My mom taught me heaps. A few years ago, I published a piece on Thought Catalog called “Things My Mother Couldn’t Teach Me.” It’s a bit of a downer, and super full of mid-20’s angst (I wrote it post break up, whilst full of feelings and whiskey). I came across it this year when Mogul.com re-published it. I winced the entire time I read it. Ohhh, to be 27 and full of agony again.
ANYWAY – it’s made me think of the important lessons my mom taught me (and continues to teach me). Beyond teaching me how to not shit myself, how to use a drink from a glass and eat without spilling (well God knows she tried), and eventually how to not wet the bed, she also taught me the following nuggets of wisdom:
- Always scrape the bottom of the bowl when you’re mixing, so all the ingredients come together. I like to think this applies to more than just mixing – but also to real life. It reminds me to look at the full picture – when I’m working, when I’m writing, when I’m putting together an outfit, etc. – and to not forget the little details. Lest they bite you in the ass.
- Always turn the pan handles in, so little hands can’t grab them/you won’t knock them off the stove and burn you or someone else. I think of this every time I put a pan on the stove. But I also think of this when I’m going through personal shit. I like to keep the handles of my depression/anxiety/shit feelings turned in so other people don’t knock them off my emotional stove and get burned. It’s important to be open about your struggles, but equally important to not force the burden (or responsibility for “curing”) on those around you.
- Always open the pan lid away from you. There’s a difference between a steam facial and a 3rd degree steam burn to the face. I could also extend this into a life metaphor about managing the hurt in confrontational situations. If you’re about to tell someone something critical, take the time to consider their reaction and plan accordingly. “Hey you don’t do the dishes enough and it’s pissing me off” is more aggressive than “Can we alternate what days we do dishes so it’s even between the two of us?”
- People will judge you on appearances so keep your hair brushed, your make up simple, and your nails clean. Lest you look trashy.
- Don’t make yourself too available. Or people will take you for granted, and walk all over you. I didn’t learn this lesson until I was 29. And professionally until I was 32.
- “We should all live more gracefully.” I forget who said this quote originally, but my mom loves it. My mom collects antique china, linens, and silver flatware, and she loves to set an amazing table. Every once in a while, she and I would have a proper tea with a tea pot, tea cups, saucers, and little snacks on serving dishes. She would occasionally bring me a decked out tray when I was home sick. And breakfast with the grandkids normally had a fancy (well, toddler equivalent) flair. And now I like bring it up a notch every now and then. Most Sunday afternoons I’ll have tea in my tea cup and saucer, and we have started to only use the nice cloth napkins for every day use. It’s the little things, but they make a big difference.
- Mental health days. From a young age, my mom has taught me the value of taking care of myself, and taking moments to recharge. Naturally, I’ve been known to abuse the privilege, because I’m a terrible person sometimes, but taking care of yourself is important. If you’re overwhelmed, try to take a break.
- “Leap and the net shall appear.” Another quote my mom loves. She has always encouraged me to take risks and to follow my dreams, even when those dreams made move 12 hours – or even a hemisphere – away. Or even when they made me move back home, broke and unemployed, at 27. Because I am a champion.
- “This too, shall come to pass.” When I was depressed in college, she wrote this on a card and hung it from my door so I’d find it when I got home. She reminds me of this quote every time I’m in a shit place. And she’s never wrong. It may pass like a fucking kidney stone, but it’ll pass.
- Drink lots of water and take 2 ibuprofen. Mom’s cure-all. Normally very accurate.
- Don’t steal, and NEVER steal from family. It’s the lowest you can go.
- Life isn’t always fair, it’s something you have to get used to. When I was 8, I went shopping with my friend and her mom. My friend Jamie got a new special edition Barbie doll, and I wanted the same special edition Barbie doll, too. But new Barbie dolls were a rarity around my house. I came home and asked my mom if she could buy me the doll, and I got the same response: “no, we can’t afford it.” I cried. She then explained to me that Jamie’s mom was divorced and got child support and alimony, which meant they had more money to throw around. It wasn’t fair that we weren’t as rich, but it wasn’t fair that Jaime’s parents were divorced and she couldn’t live with both her mom and dad, and now had a shitty step-dad, to boot. It’s just the way life is sometimes. It taught me that just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you have the world sewn up for you.
- How to sew a button, darn a sock, take the hem out of pants, sew a basic stitch. You don’t know how much money I’ve saved on tailoring.
- If you want something bad enough, you’ll sacrifice and do whatever it takes. My mom has seen some shit. She was a child of divorce, an adult adolescent, shuttled back and forth between homes, a teenage mom, a teenage mom in a bad marriage, and then a single mom in a time when it was NOT ok to be a single mom. It would have been so easy for my mom to give up, live off of other’s or go down a really shitty path. But she didn’t. She rose to the occasion, worked her ass off, and became a strong, independent woman who had her own home and means to provide for her family. It’s so inspiring, and she never gives herself enough credit for it. “Because it’s what I had to do.”
Thanks, mom. I love you.