Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons from Mom

I learned much of what I know about love by paying attention to my mom. People say that there's nothing quite like a mother's love, and although I have no children of my own, I can confirm that they're right. I've seen that strong and abiding love in my own mother. The Bible tells us all about love, but seeing those concepts acted out in the world around them helps us to truly understand and internalize them. Scripture told me a lot about love, and then my Mom showed me what those passages were talking about. Because of that, I understood and embraced love from an early age and grew into a stable person with a strong heart.

My Mom has taught me a lot of things. These are just a few:
  • Sometimes you have to put someone else's needs before yours. I didn't always know all the pressures Mom was under. She took care of me the same, whether she was having a good day or a bad one. She did things for me when she would probably have rather been doing something else. She made sure I got what I needed, even when she might not have been getting everything she needed herself. 
  • It's OK to get angry—just don't stay angry. My mom has a temper now and then, but it only lasts about 30 minutes. Give her a half hour and she's fine again. No grudges, no having to suck up for what you did, no guilt trips. She uses her moment of anger to completely purge the negativity from her system, and then she's over it. The offense is all gone. I am forgiven. The anger was never a weapon or a means of control. That's why I learned not to be afraid of anger—it doesn't have to last very long, and it doesn't have to ruin anything. The anger is brief, but the love abides strong as ever before, during, and after it. 
  • It's acceptable and necessary to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves. I remember the day I was playing in the public pool and a bunch of big boys were throwing pool toys at me. I tried to get out of the pool to escape them, and one of them grabbed my foot and tried to pull me back in. That's when my mom looked up from the book she was reading, saw what he was doing, and yelled, "You let go of my daughter!" in a very strident voice. The lifeguard seemed affronted that my mom had dared to disturb the peace and tranquility of the public pool, but she wouldn't back down. She had a right to defend me, and if she hadn't stepped in I could have been hurt. That's not the only time my Mom stepped in to defend me, even when it might cause other people to think she was strange. My elementary school teacher probably thought mom was a nuisance (and I was a wimp) when she went to the principal to discuss the fact that the other kids were mercilessly picking on me all day every day. But she didn't care what anyone thought. She cared about me. I know now that peace, decorum, routines, and even social norms can be tossed by the wayside when someone's in trouble. Love means putting yourself out there when someone else needs help, even if it makes other people look at you funny because you dare to step outside the typical.
  • The best gifts are personal. When I was a kid, my mom made a lot of my presents. Mom's presents were made with love and built to last. They weren't made out of cheap plastic parts that would break if I accidentally sat on them (I did that a lot). They weren't generic things that anyone could have. They were special. Later as I got older, Mom gave me other kids of personal gifts like homemade birthday cards with poems she had written. She made me an afghan when I went off to college, and she made my birthday cake nearly every year. Some of the best gifts she gave me were the memories we made together and the fun times we had. Mom never tried to prove her love with money and expensive gifts. She showed me she cared by investing herself into the things she gave me, and I got the message loud and clear.
  • It's OK to need someone to talk to, and it's OK to ask for help. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes, and that's OK. Mom's always there when I need to talk through a problem with equal amounts of sympathy and wisdom to share. Now that I'm all grown up, sometimes the sympathy and wisdom can go both ways, and that's a good thing. God created us to be social creatures for a reason, and we're stronger when we stick together. Even though we live in different states, my mom and I are still together in some really important ways, and that makes both of us stronger. 
  • The truest love lasts a lifetime. It changes and evolves over the course of a relationships, but it doesn't fade. My mom's love for me wasn't confined to the years when I was tiny and adorable or even to the time when I needed her to meet all of my needs. She still loved me when I became independent and self-sufficient, and she still loves me today when I live far away and only call a couple of times a month. The love changes, but it stays strong, and I can count on it.
Happy birthday, Mom. You've taught me a lot, and I'm lucky to have you.

1 comment:

Mom said...

That was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. I love you so much.

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