I’m (finally – ed.) getting around to writing the companion piece to Things I learned from my Dad, which, surprise, is a look back at the lessons that I learned from my Mom.
Mother of Ahab did not have it easy raising us; I have three brothers, one older and two younger than I am. We’re all spread out with about 2 years in between each of us, which lead to some pretty…intense competition between the four of us. Once she had kids, Mom stayed at home to raise us – I’ll never say that she didn’t work because raising me alone would have been a full-time job, much less me plus three.
Things I learned from my Mom
- Blessed are the peacemakers – Just as Dad taught me the value of fighting for things, Mom’s guidance often showed me that “there are alternatives to fighting”. Mom always had the ability to defuse tense situations and negotiate opposing parties into truces. Not just between myself and my brothers, but adults as well. I often observed this behavior at church, as our family was somewhat prominent in our church.
- Raw talent is useless without discipline – I’m kind of scatterbrained, I have no doubt that had I grown up this modern day and age, I would have branded ADD and given mind altering drugs by the school shrink faster than you can say “he’s 8”. One of my mother’s most valuable lessons to me was personal discipline. Without her guiding hand during my early years, my later scholastic aptitude would have been much more difficult to come by.
- You’ll never regret reading – We read before we watched TV. Apparently, my first sentence was “read that book”. Mom always pushed us to read, compiling summer reading lists for us that made the requirements held by public schools look pathetic in comparison. In part, her desire for us to read is what inspired my love for the sea. Books like Moby Dick and the Hornblower novels made a boy raised in the desert wonder what it was like to live on the ocean.
- Sometimes it’s better to be taken advantage of than let your heart be hardened – Mom had an inability to say “no” to people when they asked her for help. She still has it today; sometimes people would (and do) take advantage of her helpful nature. Through Mom I learned that helping people of your own free will, when you stand to gain nothing in return is often its own reward. While that may sound cheesy, it’s also true.
- Don’t be doormat – Going hand in hand with the above entry, I also learned how to say “No” diplomatically. While Mom would sometimes over commit herself to too many obligations, as I grew up I watched how she would say no to people, the reasons she used and the times she did.
Just like my Dad, I learned a lot of lessons from my Mom. There’s no way I could encapsulate everything that she taught me in five bullet points, or in an entire blog. Mom’s instruction often served as an excellent counter to my naturally combative personality; where I lacked patience, moderation, and compassion; Mom was able to nurture those traits in me.
Of course, I still have some work to do on the “patience” issue.