5 Things My Mother Taught Me About the Kind of Woman I Want To Be
A year ago today, my mother passed. While she was not in the best of health, her passing was a shock. I miss her, more than one could imagine. As the year has progressed, I realize the good in her, more than I had before. I hope to emulate these characteristics too.
1. There is nothing you can’t learn, nothing you can’t do.
I get asked all the time, where do I get my confidence from? This was definitely a lesson from my mother. She always told me “There is nothing you can’t learn, nothing you can’t do.” My mother was raised just outside of the MadMen/1960s era, when most women went to college, worked as secretaries, married and then settled down. That’s not how things happened in her life and given the opportunity, I think she would have done a few things different. She always talked about how maybe that would have been to attend law school. She always wanted me to feel I could do anything. I could be the CEO, I could go to Harvard, I could do anything but walk two steps behind a man. Then as serial entrepreneurs, I watched my parents learn about many different things in order to create and make the most out of business opportunities. She did an amazing job balancing work and family. Seriously, at one time they were experts in Wisconsin cheeses! I learned from my mother, there is nothing I can’t do.
2. You can always and easily make someone feel good.
When I walked in the door to my parent’s house she would exclaim, “There she is!” When my father walked in the same door she would exclaim, “There he is!” She would always put on fresh lipstick for us. At Christmas time, your gift, no matter what it was, was the thing she had been waiting for, wanting, and needing. And with all the gifts passed around, all the gifts were equally special. Her smile to you and appreciation for your efforts was consistent, she was always happy to see you and always happy to hear from you. She taught me that the simple effort of smiling when someone walks in your door, is day-changing for that person. And no matter what the gift is, someone put their money, time and energy in getting it for you. No matter what it is, it’s worth great appreciation, which is what you always got when giving to her.
3. Anger and hurt only hurt you.
A number of years ago, I got in a really big, unimaginable fight with my brother and sister-in-law. I was very close with them and this thing that happened between us, as my mom said really “shook my core”. As I processed through the hurt and anger she listened, she heard every detail, and she cried as I sobbed. She took her time with me and my pain. She was on my side, in terms of rooting for me to feel better and giving me what I needed. I don’t doubt she tried that with my brother either. In the end, in one of our last emotional conversations about this long-lasting disagreement, she talked with me how I had to find a way to let go of the hurt and anger and that I was only hurting myself. It took a lot of work and the birth of my daughter to let it go but in the end, she was right. Anger and hurt only hurt you.
4. You, too, can be your biggest cheerleader.
Hands down my mom was my biggest cheerleader. She was excited for me for everything I did. Everything was an opportunity that I was going to naturally excel at. (Really, she cheered you on in such a great manner, I never felt pressure either.) Missing this part of my mom has been of the hardest. When I sent her pictures of E’s nursery, she noticed every single detail and asked me about each of them. Where did I get the pink and white striped shade for the lamp? Where is the giant bear from? How did I match the wall mural to the bedding so closely? She was proud and excited for me and our upcoming arrival! When planning my little girl’s first birthday party this past year, it was mom who would have wanted to hear every detail about how the Birthday Banner coordinated so cutely with the high-chair banner, bibs and other decorations. I miss my cheerleader but I hear her words and excitement as I continue on. I, too, can cheer myself on!
5. It’s okay to be different, be yourself and not be perfect.
I don’t know if it is because she was my mother, but she loved me just the way I am. She never tried to change me, always embraced me, and was excited to see me, always. No matter what. I know I am different than others. I know I am quirky and there aren’t many like me. I know I am not perfect nor was she. But she loved me and I loved her, just the way we were.
I wish everyone a relationship similar to the one I had with my mother. We weren’t perfect, we didn’t always see eye to eye. Heck, we got mad at each other too. But we mostly enjoyed each other’s company and loved each other very much. These are five things I have been thinking about in the year I have missed my mother.