Ben Stein did a poignant piece on CBS' Sunday Morning recently. He talked about showing gratitude to your parents while they were still alive, because there would be a day when you could not.
The piece hit me like a ton of bricks, because I have an extraordinary relationship with my mother, but I don't think I let her know as often as I think it how amazing she is. I also forget to tell her how thankful I am that—of all the women in the world—she's my mom, and I get to be her daughter.
My mother raised my brother and me (and a whole host of our friends) by herself. My father passed away when I was very young, and she managed to raise two children who happen to be productive citizens of the world. (Isn't that the goal?)
She's my biggest cheerleader, and I just needed to write about her so she knows how appreciated and loved she is!
My brother and I have things we call "Claudia-isms," things that are so ingrained in our minds because she's said them so much. I wanted to share my favorites with you.
1. You're the little girl I always wanted.
From birth, I knew I was exactly what my mom had hoped and dreamed. I have never for a second doubted that my mother wanted or loved me.
Even after my father's death, when she was forced to parent alone, I still knew that I was wanted, loved, and cared about. What a difference that makes in a child's life—to grow up knowing that you embody everything your parents could ever want.
Knowing this allowed me to be loving and caring toward myself. I learned how to treat myself by how my mother treated me.
2. You don't have to like them, but you do have to love them.
This was a phrase typically used during an argument with my brother or my BFF of the week. Hate was about as bad a word as any other four-letter profanity in our house. My mom would not tolerate it. She'd constantly remind me that even if, on that particular day, I didn't like someone, I still had to love them.
At a young age, I learned that I should extend the sense of love. I may not agree with one thing you believe, but that does not have to stop me from loving you for being you. Imagine if we all extended each other the courtesy of love before discourse. The world would be a better place!
3. That's your brother, and the only brother you will ever have.
I'm lucky that my brother happens to be one of my best friends. (Shout out to Colmon!) I
blame thank my mother for that. She made us play together. She made us work out our differences. She reminded us that the most important thing in our lives were each other. In those rare times we'd argue about something, she'd remind me, "He is your brother, and the only brother you will ever have."
It put things into perspective. As I've grown older, I realize the importance of cherishing that relationship even more. He's my brother, and regardless of every other person in my life who may come and go, he is a constant. Plus, he's known me longer than anyone else, therefore, he knows my secrets. (Like how awesome my hair looks in the morning ... YIKES!) I think I'll keep him.
4. You can not leave the house looking like Joe Shit the rag man.
Growing up, I thought Joe Shit was an actual person who sold rags, and looked a HOT mess at all times. I also thought Joe and I could probably be friends!
I despise ironing with a passion! It used to drive my mother crazy to know I left the house without ironing my clothes. (OK, it still does.) The lesson here is to always put your best foot forward. While we like to believe that people don't judge us by how we look, we know that it's the reality of life. This is not to say that I look incredible every time I leave the house, but she instilled in me the sense to have some pride in how I look. I still don't iron (much), but I do love my dryer to help get out wrinkles!
5. It's OK to have a bad day, but a bad day does not equal a bad life.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say my daily happiness is usually an 8 or 9. Overall, I can count my numerous blessings, and that can push me through a so-so day. When I was in college, I remember having a particularly bad day. I called my mom in tears between classes.
She said, "Colene, it's OK to have a bad day, just know that a bad day does not equal a bad life."
Amen to that. You can have a bad day or even a bad week, but your life can be amazing. There's always something that can remind you how lucky you are. Sometimes, it takes perspective, and sometimes, the best thing you can do is just take a nap, wake up, and try again!
PS. The next day she sent me cookies! They make anything better!
6. Be careful.
While my mom has always encouraged me to try new things, take chances, and explore all life has to offer, she also instilled the need to be smart about my decisions. She constantly reminds me to be careful. It can be sunny or icy outside, but every single time, she'll say, "Be careful." Sometimes I think she's referring to driving conditions, but other's I'm pretty sure she just means in general, be careful ... take care of yourself. Be mindful!
7. Sometimes it's about the principle.
My mom is all about the principle of things. If something is wrong, she'll fight tooth and nail to right the injustice. I cannot tell you how many school board meeting I attended as a child all in the name of the "principle" of educational standards. It drove me crazy at the time, but now, I see she just valued standing up for what was right.
8. God don't like ugly...
This was a reminder about my attitude. Normally, when this phrase was used, there was a discussion on karma, and how my attitude (good or bad) directly corresponded to what came back to me. I often use this phrase as a reminder to myself, that when someone is behaving particularly "ugly" toward me, that it's really not my place to respond in the same fashion.
9. ...and He ain't too keen on pretty.
The second part of this phrase is about pride. There have been times, (especially in my teenage years), that I had a bit too much pride. There were times that I knew everything and needed no advice from my mother. She'd always remind me that a bit of humility goes a long way. As I've gotten older, this continues to ring more and more true.
10. I love you!
Every day! Every single day, my mom tells me she loves me. Knowing that you are loved, regardless of the mistakes you make, or your attitude that day, or any other factor, goes a long way! I wish every child grew up to know the depths of love that my mother has shown me!
So, here's to you, Mom! Thank you! I'm glad you're still around for me to let you know just how much you mean to me! If your parents are still around, make the time to tell them how much they mean to you.
What's the best thing your mom or dad ever told you?