As we close on another Mother’s Day weekend, it’s not hard-pressed to think of Mom. My mother died of breast cancer thirty four years ago. Interestingly, it will be thirty four years ago exactly today- and she was thirty-four years old. But when it comes to how we ‘honor’ our moms, it’s frequent to hear how many ponder wisdoms our mothers taught us. Whether our moms have passed or are still with us and we consider memories from our childhood, I often hear the advice or expressions folks frequently and fondly recall.
For some, it’s as practical as “eat your vegetables” or “don’t talk to strangers” or “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Every mother seems to have an instinctive need to either scold or pass on lessons of life to their children in a way that was somewhat annoying or incredibly redundant to hear at the time and yet we find ourselves repeating and paying heed to these momisms later in life.
For me, I recall mom saying “your plate should be colorful.” It was her way of pointing our that a meal of all biege or white or artificially colored in orange was likely a very unhealthy diet. She taught us that a colorful plate of green veggies and other healthy foods are not just beautiful, but a delicious way to live a good life.
Another phrase that stuck with me was not one she repeated again but it truly stayed with me. She proclaimed it as she was at a juncture of major change. It was our country’s bicentennial. She was a divorced single mom of two young daughters, struggling to make ends meet in the city- sometimes juggling two jobs. After announcing that we would would be moving to a little town called Taos, New Mexico, and we likely responded in shock; she said “if we’re going to be poor, let’s at least live someplace pretty.”
We celebrated our grandmother’s birthday on July 4th, 1976, we packed up our belongings in a VW beetle, and off we went to live a very different- and a very colorful- life than we had known before. Later as an adult I experienced similar challenges and joys as my own mother did, her words made a great deal more sense. I realized her words meant that life would likely be straddled with struggles, but how we choose to take in the view was up to us.
Because my mother died when I was only fourteen and there were indeed times of adversity, I was lucky to have other strong women in my life that made a positive influence- such as my many aunts, my grandmothers, and my father’s second wife Kathleen who were all there during pivotal and significant events of my life. No doubt they all played some part in why I love being a mom to my kids/stepkids today.
So what are the little nuggets of advice or wisdoms of life that your mother or mom-like figure bestowed upon you? Was it countless “Because I’m your mother that’s why!” or something more original? And how did it affect you later in life? Please let me know~ I would love to hear!
I’ll leave you with images of classic film and TV moms on this Mother’s Day, some of which may have shaped a subtle influence in my life. Whether based on fantasy or a close proximity to reality, they were fun to idolize or entertain in my own way of filling in that vacant void. As my childhood transitioned from the late 60s to the 70s and into the early 80s, the typical family was portrayed as anything but traditional, just like my own family and many families at that time.
For all you amazing, hard-working, devoted and ‘colorful’ moms out there, hope you all enjoyed a relaxing and happy Mother’s Day!