a few things I learned from my mother

I have written many times about the importance of my grandmothers in my life, about growing up in kitchens and porches, forever linked to stories, recipes, and hot summers where ice melted before you even carried the tea outside. I have absolutely no doubt that I would not be the person I am today without such connections to the women who came before me, including my mother. 

My mother is quiet, thoughtful, sensitive. She is a tuning fork of our family's emotions and the glue between us all. No one else could have been married to my father as long as she has. We'd all be lost without her. She is my sounding board, the greatest listener, and a very good recommender of books. 

I was not an easy person to raise, defiant and reckless, sure no one understood what it was like to be me, to know the things about the world I knew, to want so desperately to be in someone else's skin, just for a little while. I was too smart for my own good, most days, convinced I did not need help from anyone. Strong-willed and bossy, I spent a lot of time entertaining my younger brother, particularly after the neighborhood kids decided to play their own games without me. 

But somehow, my mother perservered. She deserves an award for surviving my adolescence. 

It wasn't really until I left Alabama that I began to see my mother as a person, a person whose feelings I hurt, whose humor I enjoyed, whose stories mattered. 

What I have learned from my mother is that relationships can grow over time, that change is possible, and that a mother's love can be magic. It can heal many wounds and soothe the tender soul. It is also without question or conditions.

I have learned that listening is all too often underrated as a skill. So is kindness. 

My mother taught me to read, encouraged my love of books and always praised my quick thinking and intelligence. She stood up for me against teachers and administrators when my creativity got me in trouble.

She always believed I could do anything. She made me feel big, unstoppable as if I could conquor any obstacle. And so many times, she still does. Knowing she is in my corner makes a huge difference in my life.

I never learned the patience my mother has or how to comfort people. But I did learn the importance of trying.

I learned to pay attention to the small things in life and celebrate them.

I learned it's okay if not everyone likes you or understands you. And that you should surround yourself with people who do. You should also be appreciative of their friendship and try at all times to be an understanding and kind friend. It doesn't mean you always have to agree but you do always need to be present.

My mother is the person in my family who makes it work, the behind-the-scenes person, planning and scheduling and getting everyone, or trying to, on the same page. She is almost certainly undervalued for this feat, yet rarely complains about it. Me, I need acknowledgment. 

I learned not every opinion is worth sharing just because it's yours. My mother has a gift for knowing what to say and when to say it. Me, I am not good at holding back. 

I am very much like my father, wild and unpredictable, full of ideas, and stories, absentminded, messy, and a little bit weird.

But I hope I am also like my mother, deep and caring, quick to laughter and kindness. I strive to be a good friend, a committed co-worker and a person who is easy to be around. Just like my mom.

 

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to one of the best people I know.