Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mama Said, Mama Said...

I came across a interesting blog thanks to Kate at the Mommy Monologues - It's called Mama's Losin' It!  Mama Kat has an interesting writer's workshop and I saw a post that inspired me, so I decided to participate this week.

Mama's Losin' It

The theme that caught my attention is "10 Things My Mother Taught Me."  I think everyone who knows me knows how much I love my mom, even though I give her a hard time and probably caused 70% of her beautifully silver hair.  I think she did a good job raising me (and my sister) and I'd like to give her a little public credit...

1 - Look It Up - I can't begin to describe how often I heard this from my mom.  I was constantly asking about everything...and, once I could read (which was kind of early), this was the answer I got from her.  We had a set of encyclopedias and a big dictionary and they were put to use quite often.  I still look up everything.  I would have been in kid heaven had I owned an iPhone with a Google App during elementary school.  I put that thing to use every single day as an adult.  I'll give Mama all the credit for developing my lust for knowledge.  My friends can thank her when we rock it out at Trivia Night.

2 - Things Could Always Be Worse - Things weren't always easy growing up.  We didn't live in a great neighborhood (hell, it wasn't even a good neighborhood), we didn't have a lot of money or "stuff," either.  However, Mom continued to tithe, donate clothes to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, and I also remember her giving a few dollars anonymously to help pay for other people's utility bills around Christmas.  She showed me that someone, somewhere always needed help.  Even though we didn't have a lot to give, we managed to give something.  That lesson has stuck with me and, without going into detail, Chris and I still try to provide help to others and it's nice being in a position where we are able to give even more.

3 - Sometimes, All You Can Do Is Laugh - Sometimes life sucks so hard that you either break down completely or you jump straight over the breakdown and enter crazy "I can't frickin' believe this is happening" land.  You know, those times when you start crying because your world is falling down around you and then your tears turn into fits of laughter. Let's say, your cat dies, you owe money to the IRS but you don't have enough money to pay your electric bill, the only thing in your pantry is Grape-Nuts...but no milk in the fridge, and you just realized your kid with a ridiculously narrow, hard to fit foot, had a growth spurt and you can't afford to buy her new shoes.  Seriously!  What can you do but laugh?  For the record, I am of the opinion it is a LOT easier to create solutions when you are laughing than when you are crying.  I choose to laugh.

4 - You Can't Always Get What You Want...Right Now - This is the gift of delayed gratification.  Just like most kids, I wanted every toy I saw.  I'm sure a lot of people remember going through the Sears Christmas Catalog and marking all of the glorious toys you wanted for Christmas that year.  It wasn't reality for us...most often just fodder for sweet dreams.  Mom would honestly tell me that she couldn't afford {insert random toy, usually a Barbie Doll} right now, but she would always remind me that I could save up my money from various odd chores (like picking pecans or raking the yard) and buy it for myself.  To this day, I rarely purchase anything on impulse.  Now that Chris & I are debt free and planning on staying this way, we take the time to think about every purchase we make.  We waited a year to save up enough cash to get our floors replaced and ended up getting a better quality floor for less money.

5 - "It's Not A Toy; It's A Killing Machine" - This is a direct quote from the speech I received when I got my first car (1990 Volkswagen Fox - The Silver Bullet).  I was 16 and knew everything, so I'm sure I rolled my eyes...but she repeated this over and over, ad nauseum.  It stuck.  I have said it to other people upon receiving their driver's licenses.  I have said this to Chris.  I will say this to Klaw.  I will say this to my nieces (and future nephew) when they are able to drive.  I will probably also tell kids to "get off my lawn," whatever.

6 - Stand Up For Yourself - Mom taught me that, at the end of the day, I am the only person I can depend on.  I have to fight for what I want & what I believe in.  This is perhaps one of the areas she went a little overboard.  I am very good at standing up for myself & defending myself.  If I want something, I have the focus and determination to get it.  If I believe in something, I put 100% of my effort behind it.  This has paid off in many ways over the years, however, sometimes I feel like I'm always spoiling for a fight.  I have a "me against the world" attitude, which I don't think Mom was aiming for in the least, and it has sometimes made relationships difficult.  I'm assertive to the point of being aggressive, at times.  I do finally recognize this character trait, but I did not have the self-awareness in high school or college to temper it.  I could make a list of people who did not like me in the least upon first meeting me but are now some of my dearest friends (and some of the people who read this blog regularly...).

7 - Be Kind To Animals - The only time I didn't technically have a pet was during my four years of college.  Other than that, I don't remember not having pets ever.  Cats were in our home before I was born and I got a cat shortly after moving to Charleston to start graduate school.  Having pets taught us responsibility and compassion.  It also gave us our first experiences of grief and loss.  In our house, we currently have three dogs and 2 cats; all of them are rescues in one sense or another.  Most of them have health and/or behavior issues.  I can't imagine my life without any of them.

8 - You Break It; You Buy It - I think it's natural for most parents to think "my child would never do that!"  My mom had a guilty until proven innocent attitude with me & my sister.  I can't speak for my sister, but for me, Mom was usually right.  If a group of us got in trouble at school, Mom assumed I was behind it.  I usually was.  If something was missing or broken, Mom assumed I had a hand in it.  I usually did.  If I got caught misbehaving, Mom NEVER tried to get me out of trouble.  I wished she would, but I knew she wouldn't (for the record, I became really good at not getting caught).  Another great speech I received after getting my driver's license contained this gem:
"If you get arrested, don't waste your call on me; I'm not posting bail."
Some of you may think this is harsh.  I don't.  I've never so much as had a speeding ticket, much less been arrested.  I have no desire to spend the night in jail and I never have.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that if I ever got arrested, my butt would spend a night in jail.  I would have deserved it - fitting punishment for whatever actions had gotten me into the predicament.  I always have a back-up plan, though.  There were some adults in my life I knew would post bail, should I need it (even a professor in college who once worriedly offered to do so upon hearing my plans for the weekend).

9 - "Never Do Anything You'd Be Embarrassed To Get Caught Doing" -Yep, this is another direct quote from Mama and truly excellent advice.  It can easily be followed by the well-loved, "a girl can run faster with her skirt up than a boy can with his pants down."  This is one of my favorites from Mom because it wasn't a "rule" that I should follow as much as a "guideline" for how I should live.  It makes logical sense to me.  I am responsible, at all times, for my behavior.  If my behavior would embarrass me should I be caught, perhaps I shouldn't do it.  Granted, I must have had a pretty high threshold for embarrassment during my college years...

10 - Winning Isn't Everything - It's the only least if you're my mom.  By that, I mean that she won almost every time we played any game.  She was never one to "let us" win.  She beat me at poker, checkers, go fish, gin, rummy, gin rummy, putt putt golf, swimming, memory, and even Scrabble!  She will be the first to admit that spelling is not her forte but I have only beaten her ONE TIME while playing Scrabble on the board.  Now, I am doing pretty well in the online version but I have to guess it's because I have some sort of technological advantage because it's via computer and not on the table in front of us.  With all of the losing I did as a kid, I am a very gracious loser.  I am incredibly competitive during the game but if you beat me, I'm cool with it.  I'm used to it.  In all honesty, it's a little better for everyone if I do lose because I still get really over the top excited when I win and I'm pretty sure it's obnoxious.

So, there you have it, for better or for worse...10 Things My Mother Taught Me.

Thank you, Mama!

Are there any gems, any words of wisdom, from your mom (or dad) that have stuck with you through the years?
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