What My Mom Taught Me

I'm the girl in the pink t-shirt

I’m the girl in the pink t-shirt

My mom is responsible for so many of the passions in my life. The background in this picture shows two of them…my love of books and my thirst for knowledge.

I suspect that she also inspired my love for writing, particularly poetry. As often happens when we’re young, we emulate what we see. My mom used to write these long, drawn out odes…probably inspired by reading Psalms. All I know is that I was enthralled with the idea that she had created something that other people wanted to read…with her mind and her imagination. And, as happens with the oldest child, I attempted to emulate her…with my own little twists. My sister would tell you that I took it a step further and spun tales to entertain her and my brothers.

Mothers and daughters are complicated relationships…and I suspect it will always be that way. Through her I learned to be timely because it’s a trait she lacks. Yet there were other things that would blow me away…like when she told me how she chose my name. My passion for music comes from her, too. Every member of my immediate family is actually vocally talented. She and my dad used to sing all the time. She was disappointed that I didn’t take more interest in learning an instrument, too. Even when we didn’t have much, she found ways to help my sister and I pay for our voice lessons in high school.

My mom also has a love for cooking and baking; one she passed on to my sister and me. My first memory of making bread with her was when I was 3. She made sure she had mini-loaf pans and tart pans to go with her pie and bread pans. As she would make hers, she’d double the recipe so my sister and I could make “ours”. We loved that. In fact, baking is something we both do to relax us. Like my mom, I’m an intuitive cook… a pinch of this and a dab of that are commonplace in my cooking. It’s all to taste, which makes it difficult for me to share recipes, but it was always fun.

As some of you realize, my dad wasn’t really a presence in my life. She was the one who never missed a concert that I performed in, she who told me that I could be anyone and do anything I wanted. She did everything she could so that his absence wasn’t missed too much. She found a way to support us with nothing more than a high school diploma…and chose not to take advantage of “aid” agencies, though we qualified. She believed there were others that needed it more and that as long as she was working, accepting things like food stamps would send us the wrong message. She wanted us to be strong and independent. She taught me the value of hard work and dedication.

Don’t get me wrong…we had our ups and downs. Having me so young made us more like siblings than mother/daughter sometimes… We both had our tempers and we knew how to push each others buttons. The single mom in her gave her a very vivid imagination. (She thought my catnip was marijuana and that my sister’s contact lens enzyme tabs were birth control pills that I’d procured without her knowledge or permission.)

Thanks to her, my sister and I were independent enough to spread our wings and fly from the nest as soon as we were old enough. Unlike most kids, we didn’t do it because we were rebelling or needed to escape. We did it to exercise the independence she raised us to crave.

Even then, we knew she was always just a phone call away. If we ever truly needed her she’d drop everything and try to find a way to help us. She still would.

She’s not perfect… In fact, she’s a bit of a hypochondriac. She gave us vitamins one year for stocking stuffers. She’s spiked my sister’s OJ with fish oil to “enhance her memory” when we were in high school preparing for finals… (Yeah, that was hilarious for me, disgusting for her.) She has a brutal temper. She’s beyond protective. She jumps to conclusions and has a tendency to shoot first, ask questions later (a trait common in single moms who want to keep their kids safe).

Through her, my sister and I gained a very clear vision of what a loving God looks like. She raised us to do what was right, even when it wasn’t always easy or comfortable. She taught us to be tough, resilient and self sufficient. She also showed us what commitment looked like.

When we lost our brothers she was there…strong and steadfast. She knew that as long as we had each other and faith, we would survive. She never let go.

Watching her over the years I’ve learned so much about strength, resilience and love….and the kind of mother I’d like to be (if I ever have any children). It always chokes me up and blows my mind a little when she hugs me and tells me that my sister and I inspired so much of what we inspire in her.

May I grow up to be as inspiring to someone as she’s been to me.

Now it’s your turn…. What traits have you inherited from your mom? What inspires you? If you’re a mom, what do you love most about being one?

Sunday Is For Intimacy

I love Sundays…especially the lazy ones. I adore Etta James…she was the original on this particular tune. Why did I choose Reba for this song? Because no one tells a story with her videos quite the way that she does. With this, she captures that “feel good” feeling, how special time spent with family can be, and the importance of children seeing that their parents love each other.

Sometimes I look at all the issues that face the world today…and think it all boils down to lack of love and family stability. It seems to me that people are so quick to throw love away when it gets hard. We don’t spend enough time together…talking to each other. People rarely sit down at the dinner table as a family anymore…not even on Sundays. We communicate through text messaging and email more than we do face to face. The intimacy of pure conversation, gone by the wayside.

A friend of mine joked one day on her Facebook page. She posted a picture and titled it “Teens At Risk” then added “no need to rub your eyes…these teens are actually playing the board game-gasp!” Sadly, that used to be something families did together. It was a great time to talk, to laugh, to build bonds….and we rarely see it anymore. When I was younger it was all about Scrabble and Life in our house. Can you imagine how a Scrabble game could go with our youth of today? With all the online and text short hand, it’s no wonder why writing and grammar is such a struggle in school. Even more importantly is that it’s just one more deterioration of family intimacy.

As important as family intimacy is, there’s also the intimacy between couples…the desire to work things out or love things out. As many of you who’ve read my poetry know, I have a predilection towards rain. I find rain to be intensely sexy. I love making out in the rain. I love walking in the rain (when it’s not too cold). I firmly believe rainy days were meant for three things…sleep, sex and reading….and not necessarily in that order. Isn’t it interesting that the ever so sexy Keith Urban just happens to have a song about rainy Sunday sex?

Am I completely off base in my assessments of what is lacking these days? I know there’s more than just this, but I think it’s a great place to start. So if you’re home with your family tonight, why not watch a show together? Or play a board game? And if it’s only you and the one you love, why not hide under the covers?