10 Ways to Rock at Motherhood.
I realise more and more that I am the Mum I am because of the mother you were. Here are some of the valuable lessons you’ve taught me along the way.
From the time I was born, magic existed in my life. It was first revealed to me when you magically appeared from behind a fluffy blanket in peek-a-boo. I discovered it again in the tiny, glitter-encrusted note from the tooth fairy and the equally glittery trail that she left to the window. (Even when I realized you were the Tooth Fairy, I continued the pretense for the sheer magic it created in my life.) Magic was in the tree at the bottom of the garden, where the tree elves would enjoy the feast my siblings and I had painstakingly set up for them (they left crumbs and a very polite thank you note, suspiciously in your handwriting). I discovered that I could magically make people smile, just by smiling myself. Together, we discovered my inner-magic – my ability to do things I never knew I could, from traversing monkey bars to speaking solo in front of my entire school. I learnt the magic of envisioning something and making it happen. As I grew up, you showed it to me in more sophisticated ways. You showed be by achieving unachievable things yourself. My stay-at-home mom wrote books, plays, television shows and got them published – you showed me by your actions that I, too, could one day make obstacles disappear. Your mantra was always “Show me where it is written that I cant do this.”
I am a passionate person. So are you. You taught be to stand by what I believe, whether it makes me popular or not. I can’t count the number of times I sat on your lap, howling and crying crocodile tears because I had been ostracized for not doing what the cool kids expected of me. You gave me comfort, let me cry and always told me you were proud that I’d chosen the high road that led to your lap, rather than going against my conscience in order to fit in. I learned that sometimes the cool crowd aren’t that cool…sometimes the cool crowd are really the cowardly crowd. You taught me that not only is it okay to be me, it is, in fact, the most important thing in the world. You were never part of a herd and you are fabulous. I learned that my quirks make me fabulous too.
One of my strongest memories of growing up as your child is of you admonishing me for something where I knew I was in the right. The reason I remember this clearly is because, when you realized that you were wrong, you looked me in the eye and admitted it. Wow, even mothers can be wrong! You, my mother, said the most important words in any relationship: “I’m wrong”. You followed them with two more phrases you have never hesitated to say: “I’m sorry” and “Forgive me?” You taught me that day, and every day after that, that winning an argument doesn’t make you a winner. In fact, often in relationships the prize for winning an argument is loneliness and bitterness. Real winners are those who can open their minds to the possibility that they might be wrong, admit it and apologize. Those people earn the prize of respect, trust and love.
When you published your books, produced your TV series’ and started up your own magazine, people around you watched with mouths agape. How did this suburban housewife pull it off? I had the privilege of growing up and learning, first-hand, that if traditional methods don’t work, you just have to try harder. Time and again, I watched you forge new paths, push through the barriers and tear up the rule book. I watched you do this again and again. I learned that there is always a way to achieve my goals, as long as I’m prepared to step out of the box and work hard. Which leads me to lesson #5.
You always gave everything a fair go, from baking a cake (almost always a failure – sorry!) to creating giant polystyrene props for shop windows (mostly successful). You weren’t afraid to fail and that lesson was massive for me. You are a hero to me, not for your successes but for your failures. You taught me that failing at something is not a big deal. You taught me that the words “failing” and “learning” are interchangeable. Failing, unashamedly acknowledging your failures and moving on to do things better gave you the skills to succeed the second, third, sometimes fourth time around. Failing ultimately made you a success.
As a kid, I’d come home to you, complaining about some kid who had been mean/called me names/hit someone. I’d hear other mothers gossiping about how so-and-so’s child was always scruffy/badly behaved/stupid. You always sat me down, calmly, and explained that we are not privy to other people’s lives. Maybe that child was hurting inside. Maybe that child wasn’t showered with love like I was. Maybe that family didn’t have money for new clothes. Maybe maybe maybe. You taught me that it’s not always about me. This constant stepping into other people’s shoes taught me compassion. From you, I learned to truly love. Even today, when I am faced with rudeness, I almost always reply with “Are you okay? You look like you’re having a bad day” and a hug. 99% of the time, I’m faced with a flood of gratitude and an apology. This lesson has led to stronger friendships, a stronger marriage and a very positive outlook on my life. I am so grateful for this, Mom.
You and I have always laughed. Our family loves to laugh. Growing up, I recall us retelling funny stories we all knew at the dinner table, just so we could laugh. My memories of childhood are framed with laughter. You have always punctuated life lessons with humour. When I was a kid, after shouting at me for something, you’d grab me and pretend to try kick me and I’d run away shrieking with laughter. You’d chase me yelling about how you were going to ‘get me’. The result – I knew my boundaries, but they were not bars on a jail. I learnt from you that life is fun and if there have to be tears, choose the ones that come out of joy.
No matter what I did, no matter how bad the transgression (painting flowers on the toilet seat with nail polish/ digging up your flowers to make a Smurf Village/ cutting my entire kindergarten class’ hair) I knew, unequivocally, that I was loved. No doubt. You made sure I knew by both your words and actions. You let me know clearly when you didn’t love my behaviour, but always made it clear that you loved me. Because of this, I never lied to you (okay, not entirely true, but almost…), discussed my deepest feelings with you, openly asked you questions. Not one of my friends spoke to their moms about the things we discussed. You may not have liked my decisions at times, but you listened, guided and loved me without restraint. This love created trust, respect and a relationship envied to this day by so many mothers and daughters alike.
This one is a tough one, because I watched you get hurt so much. Your forgiving, peace-loving nature often led other not-so-lovely people to take advantage of you. I would pull my hair out and think “Why is she letting this person get away with this?” The more I watched, however, the more I learned. You taught me that forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you. I learned that hanging on to hate is like swallowing poison every day and hoping it will somehow hurt them. By forgiving others for hurting you, you let go and moved on. You gave them back the metaphorical steamy turd they had handed you and politely said “no thanks!” That’s why you’re strong and positive and happy. You own only your issues.
One day, when I was about fourteen, you took me into Hillbrow (for those not familiar with South Africa, Hillbrow is a particularly dangerous and poverty-ridden part of Johannesburg). We drove around until we saw a family on the side of the road – a mom and 2 children, sitting on a folded up box, selling a few sad bits and pieces that nobody was in a hurry to buy. You told me to take note of the sizes of the kids and we kept driving, until you pulled up outside a large department store. We filled a trolley with underwear, clothes, jackets, socks, shoes, toys and cosmetics. You paid and we left. I will never forget the gratitude of that family. I will never forget the simultaneous sorrow and joyfulness I felt as we handed over the bags of shopping. We didn’t talk much on the way home. You taught me that lesson with your heart. I learned every day – and especially on that day – that the joy of giving far outweighs the joy of receiving. You taught me that when you give from your heart, there is no loss.
I am so grateful that you are my mom.
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Posted on J June, 2012, in Family, Gratitude, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-esteem and tagged 10 ways to rock at motherhood, be generous, believe in magic, family, home, how to be a winner, I love you Mom, It's okay to fail, laugh every day, learn to forgive, Love your family, march to your own drum, Mother, motherhood for dummies, parenting, Pigs can fly, rules for motherhood, tooth fairy. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.