Monday, May 13, 2013

Life Lessons From Moms

So many mothers have had an impact on who I am today, it's hard to give credit to all who deserve it. Of course my own mother is the first on the list. My own nest is nearing the empty stage and I suppose it makes me more reflective. As I look back, there are things that stand out as life lessons.

1. Mom always said: "This too shall pass." And she was right. Nothing lasts forever. Usually she was trying to give me perspective that bad things that seem huge, are really rather small in the scope of things when you stop to think on it. But as I age, I realize that the good things pass much too quickly--and should be cherished deeply.

2. Mom used to send me to my room when I was a naughty child and say: "Now don't come down until you have your attitude right." Yep. Attitude Adjustment 101: I was in that class a long time. But I learned about transformation, about letting go, about forgiveness, about taking personal inventory, about wasted energy on ridiculous notions, about putting relationships above selfishness--and so much more. It taught me about faith and how the heart can change. If we can take these lessons into adulthood, we are blessed.

3. Mom used to tell me when I'd had a rough day, as she tucked me in at night with a hug and a prayer: "I'm sure it's nothing that a good night's sleep won't help." God knows we need rest. Rest helps us let go of things. Rest can give us insight we didn't have the night before. Rest can make our bodies feel better, and can heal our "ouchies".  Sometimes there isn't anything left to do about a problem but to sleep on it. Mom was usually right.

4. Mom used to quote Pa from Little House on the Prairie, and tell me: "There's nothing so bad there isn't any good in it." Learn from your problems, mistakes, and mess-ups. When things seem bad, there is always something to be thankful for--you just have to search for it.

5. As a parent I have often reflected on my father's advise: (yep, dads impact mothering too!) "Say what you mean, and mean what you say; be prepared to back it up." There's not a job on this earth that I can imagine as humbling or more terrifying than being a parent. I'm pretty sure there's not a job that requires such amazing mental gymnastics to stay one step ahead of impending chaos--ready to logically reason, give appropriate consequences, or readjust management accordingly for the manipulating minds of toddlers and teenagers.

6. Practice watching your child sleep--especially after a long day of wanting to shorten their lives. There is nothing that would move my heart to compassion more quickly. There were many nights when my children had been especially trying during the daytime, when watching their sleeping cherub faces didn't just melt my heart completely. There was nothing like practicing that simple thing, that made me want to get up and do it all again the next day.

7. Teach your children to debate. This one was shared with me by my best friend, Jayne. It was during that bicker-bicker-bicker stage. I think the kids were late elementary, or junior high. She'd heard about the concept on Focus on the Family. When your kids are arguing, you turn to each of them and help them verbalize the thing they really want the most. Very often the thing they want the most, doesn't match the words coming out of their mouths. What is coming out of their mouths is their defense of what they most want. 

It goes something like this. Child A: wants on computer but child B is on it, but he asks anyway and gets a "no" without further meaning or explanation. Child A then whines, bickers, hits, acts out in some way. Child B reacts and defends and digs into her position: "mom, I just got on and my turn isn't done." Meanwhile child A believes no one cares what he wants and begins to cry. You help negotiate. Ask each child what they want. When child B finally says she only needs ten more minutes to complete her game, child A just wanted to know how long until it was their turn and realizes ten minutes is agreeable. Set the timer. End of bickering. Of course it wasn't always that magical. But it sends a message that it's important for your children to say what they need, ask for it, negotiate what is reasonable. You empower them to solve things instead of demanding they listen to you.

It saved my sanity so many times!

8. A van ride is sacred. In between giving the death glare in the rear-view mirror because they touched each other after I asked them to stop. In between passing cheerio snacks as bribes to tide them a bit longer until I'd finished my errands. In between listening to books on tape, music CD's, and singing at the top of our lungs together. In between all that---they were my captives. I had their ears. They could not escape. We had many sacred conversations no matter what age---in the van. Don't miss your opportunities.

Proverbs 31:26-31 "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many woman do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive , and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

What lessons from mothers have shaped you most? 
Which do you cherish most? 
Which ones do you wish someone would have told you sooner?

Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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  1. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. A good lesson in taming the tongue. I don't think I learned it early enough though lol!

  2. These are great, Anne! I've heard several of these out of the mouth of my own mother. I guess Mothers much have a hotline they're all plugged into. I need to find it :)

    Love the debate comment. Good idea!

    1. Hope it works if you try it Sheri. Right, need that "plug in"! :)

  3. Most of these I teach my kids, but the "van ride is sacred" concept? Oh my word!!
    We spend hours and hours driving to hockey. We are criticized for the time away from church for hockey. We, you know what? The confidences shared between us and our kids are more pure and sacred than watching them tune out when the sermon is beyond them. I wouldn't trade those van ride moments for all the tea in China.

    1. Not for all the tea in China! Priceless. :)


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