Friday, May 17, 2013


circa 1980
circa 1986

I was going to post this on Sunday, which was not only Mother's Day but also my mom's birthday. However, it took me this long to get my thoughts out of my brain and into a coherent share-able form. So here goes.

My Mom is awesome. She taught me so many things intentionally and unintentionally and I am so grateful that I got to be her daughter. 
The top things she has taught me:

1. Always choose your words carefully. You can be honest without being cruel.
2. Girls and boys are equal in every task. She was one of the only women in her field for a very long time. Her tenacity and hard work have paved the way for so many (and they don't even know it). And this dovetails into
3. You can have a family and a career. She would leave for work at 6 a.m. so that she could pick us up after school and we could have dinner as a family. She was the leader of my Girl Scout Troop--and there she taught us how to build a fire (and cook over it), how to be a leader, how to work toward goals.
4. Always question new information. This is probably because she spent most of her time in a lab and looking at medical study results. But the lesson has taught me to be a careful consumer of information and always look to the original source. Full disclosure: when I was younger, it annoyed me to no end that she was always asking me "where did you learn that?"
5. Learn new things. She was always trying new recipes, taking classes, and reading. When I was home from college in the summer, we took watercolor classes together. I have tried food from all over the globe (one of my comfort foods is Kefta from Morocco). I have continued to take classes online and in real life (and will be going to grad school in the fall). And I have read enough books to fill a library.
6. Find time to do what you love. Yes, spending time being a mom/wife/friend IS important. But it's also important to spend time doing what nourishes you. When I was in high school, I remember she would get up and go running at 5 in the morning. On the weekends you could find her in the garden or weaving at her loom. 
7. Travel as often as you can. Pay attention to what's different. Enjoy the differences. We have traveled together, and we have traveled separately. But we are always scheming our next big trip.
8. Be a good listener. My mom is the person I call when I need to get things out of my head and into the world. I find myself on the listening end of many conversations. It's amazing how much better you can make people feel by just listening, and not merely waiting for a lull in the conversation so you can put in your two cents.
9. Be kind. The world is full of hurt, which as a nurse in a pediatric oncology ward she saw every day. The thing I remember her saying most often is "Don't be mean". And I have said the same to my children. 
10. Work hard. It's true that both of my parents have a strong work ethic. They both have masters-level degrees, and they have both succeeded in their fields. For my mom, I think it is a matter of "do the job in front of you" as well as being the eldest of 5. I learned that just because things are hard it doesn't mean that you should give up. 

This list has the potential to be never ending. I am learning new lessons every year as I go through my own trials of motherhood and finding my place in the world. I would not be the woman I am without such an amazing role model. I hope that I am encouraging my kids and allowing them the space to grow in the way my mom did for me. 

I love you Mom!
(I know you don't like the attention, so I won't do this again. But I just had to put it out there once)

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