Isn’t my mom beautiful? I couldn’t bear to crop this photo because I love it so much. As many of you know I lost my mother almost seven weeks ago to brain cancer. It feels so different to be in the world without my mother, like a raw nerve is just exposed and aching terribly. It’s been a very difficult experience, not made easier by my third child also arriving in the same week, but that’s a story for another day.
At my mom’s celebration of life I had the opportunity to speak and reflect on everything she taught me in my 37 years. I would like to share some of these lessons with you if you would like? Here we go:
Experiences are more valuable than things
My mom had three children, each three years apart. Now that I am a mom of three, each two years apart I fully understand what a feat it is to get everyone moving the same direction. This never stopped my mom from taking us on adventures. Whether it was walking through the rain in a new park, driving to festivals in Canada or visiting the alpine slides at our state’s mountain, she was never afraid to enrich our lives with new experiences. She most certainly said no to a number of material things I asked her to buy, but when it came to making memories, nobody was better than my mom.
Nature cures all
Growing up in Oregon, the outdoors were the place to have a good time. We camped, swam, hiked and road bikes through the wilderness for fun. It never occurred to me that maybe going to stay in a hotel somewhere was a vacation for many people. Seeing nature up close and staying in a tent was the way to go. As I got older and watched my mom go through divorce I also learned from her that spending a day outdoors can heal sadness and depression like nothing else.Recently I was experiencing excruciating anxiety and depression and sitting with the ocean for an hour nearly knocked it out completely. Thanks, Mom.
Eat the Cinnabon
My mom was always in great shape and careful about her diet. Eating well and taking care of herself was a way of life. She taught me that if you live that way most of the time, it makes room to enjoy your favorite treats on occasion without guilt. This was big to me because it’s common for people to indulge and then punish themselves after. She never did that because most of the time she made it a gift to herself to live healthfully. It’s a subtle mind trick that can make a big impact over time. I now live this way as well, and am fully able to enjoy indulgences here and there without punishing myself after.
They will never understand
I went through a period of time after having children where I was stuck in deep resentment towards my husband Alex. He wasn’t doing enough around the house, with the kids, at work….he didn’t understand how hard it was to be a mom and work…..he was inconsiderate, didn’t have to ask me if he could go surfing but I had to ask him if I could go to yoga on a Saturday. Couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to have an infant attached to your breast 24/7 etc. Sound familiar mom’s? Now in no way am I saying that responsibilities should not be divided up evenly, but my mom told me something that changed my relationship. She told me to just stop. Just stop the anger and resentment because men will never understand. No matter how much we punish them. At first that made me angry and then I realized she was trying to save my relationship. It is a complete waste of energy to hold resentment towards our partners and expect them to completely understand what we go through on a day to day basis when they are not us. She told me if I continue this thinking things will be over and Alex will not want to be with me. She was right. The second I stopped moaning to Alex all the time about how much more I was doing than him, things improved. Now, if I ‘m struggling with resentment and feeling that I do more for our household, I try to imagine what Alex does on a day to day basis to take care of our family. Truthfully, it probably still won’t be as much as us but is it worth ruining your marriage? Probably not. Thanks Mom.
Live below your means
I pushed against this one for so many years when I was young. Like most children I wanted the cool shoes and the shiny necklaces and the vacations to Disneyland. My mom said no to the $100+ dress for the holiday ball one year and I was very angry. Over time I started to think my mom actually lived frugally because she didn’t have the means to live any other way. She spent her money wisely, on things she enjoyed doing like golf, a second home in Arizona and trips to see her grandchildren. I never would have called her cheap, but I didn’t understand why she didn’t treat herself more often. What I didn’t realize is that she found ways to treat herself that didn’t always require large sums of money, and some that did but were trips and vacations she would keep in her heart forever. Not long ago I realized how smart my mom actually was with her money. All those years she was so intentional about her spending because she wanted to ensure she had an abundant retirement and that she left a legacy behind. If I could describe what my mom taught me about money it would be to live below your means and only buy what you need….not everything you WANT.
Stay close with your siblings
This goes without saying. I’m so grateful my mom left me with a brother and sister that I love so much.
Don’t be afraid to put your foot down with your kids…even when they grow up
When I was 18 years old I left college to become a fashion model. Needless to say, my mom wasn’t too happy about it. She wasn’t going to stop me, but she was clear if I took this route she wouldn’t support me financially. Less than a year into my career, things were going well but I ended up living back at her house after a long stint in Europe. I couldn’t afford to move to New York City yet, which was the next step. I also wasn’t doing a whole lot outside of modeling to save money. This could not have been easy for my mom, but she told me that if I wanted to come home and live with her again I would need to pay rent. As you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy about this, but I was so grateful she gave me the kick I needed to get out of her house and dive into discomfort. I scraped together enough money to get to New York, got two jobs and pounded the pavement for my modeling career. Only a few months later I quit my jobs and was earning enough modeling to fully support myself and then some. It was the beginning of a great career and had I not been kicked out before I was ready, I’m not sure it ever would have happened.
I was truly fortunate to have a woman like her show me the way. I miss her now more than ever. What lessons have your mother’s passed on to you? I would love hear the gems.