I feel a little like a copycat after Laura Spinella wrote that wonderful post about her mother last Friday. Not only was it Friday the 13th, but it was her mom’s 83rd birthday (hope it was a happy one!). Tomorrow is my mom’s 75th birthday. So that she doesn't feel left out, I figured I’d pen a piece in her honor, all about some very important life lessons I’ve learned from her. Let’s just say, they’re invaluable (or at least chuckle-worthy). Here goes!
Lesson #1: Threats Don’t Work
I remember one particular time in my young life when I was furious with my mother…for what, I can’t remember. I was about 10 or 11, and I recall very clearly telling her how she’d pissed me off and then letting her know I was running away. Not only did she basically say, “Terrific,” I think she offered to help me pack. I ended up leaving the house, racing across the lawn and down to the grassy triangle up the street, and climbing a tree so I could see the house. I was certain she’d run outside crying hysterically and shouting at the top of her lungs, “Susan! Sweetheart, I’m so sorry! Please, come back!” I don’t know how long I sat in that tree, waiting and watching for her, but it had to be at least an hour (which felt like days). My pride wounded and stomach growling, I finally slunk inside and found her in the kitchen. “I see you’re back in time for dinner,” she said. “It would’ve been a shame to give the dog your meatloaf.”
Lesson #2: Don’t Troll Mom’s Bathroom for Empty Boxes
I bought what was surely a fabulous present for my mother one Christmas long ago but I needed an empty box in which to stuff and wrap it. So, of course, I poked around my parents’ master bathroom (this was before The Container Store, you see). Lo and behold, on a shelf in the linen closet, I found a cardboard box that was light blue with tiny white flowers all over it. Gorgeous! It wasn’t until Mom unwrapped the box and began laughing that I learned the box once contained Tampax tampons. Not sure at that point I even knew what that meant. But she said that next time I needed an empty box, I should just ask.
Lesson #3: When it’s Dad versus a Kitten, the Kitten Wins
We always had at least one dog in the house. When I was really little, it was a cocker spaniel named Cindy. As I got older, we had a couple of golden retrievers and a giant mutt named Puppy. At some point after my sister and I were in grade school, we started asking for a kitten. My mom thought that was a grand idea. My dad was not so keen. “It’s either me or a cat,” he very sternly told us all one night at family dinner. My mom replied, “You’re going to lose there, buster,” then asked us, “So is it a kitten or your father?” My sister and I looked at each other, grinned, and squealed, “Hooray, we’re getting a kitten!” And we did.
Lesson #4: Don’t Dump a Guy Just Because He Wears Weird Shoes
When I was a sophomore in high school, I dated a senior who was brilliant (he went to the Air Force Academy), talented (he played piano like a pro), athletic (he was a star on the soccer team), and hunky. He also wore desert boots when no one else was wearing desert boots. For some reason, that bothered me enormously. Superficial, I know. But then again, I was 15. My mom kept saying, “Don’t break up with this wonderful boy over a pair of shoes.” But I did anyway. Fast forward 26 years to when I met Ed. He used to wear this motorcycle jacket—a real one, with hard pads that made the shoulders stand out like a linebacker—only he didn’t ride a motorcycle. (Oh, he had one. It was just not drivable and still resides in his parents’ garage because he won’t get rid of it.) My friends teased him about it unmercifully. The meanies. But Ed wore it anyway. He also had a neon-green striped shirt he donned for Christmas Eve dinner at my folks’ the first time they met him. The next morning, Mom asked, “So, what about that green shirt?” I felt the same way about it as I did the motorcycle jacket. Yuck. But thank goodness I wasn’t 15 any more. I recognized and appreciated all the wonderfulness of Ed that had nothing to do with his clothes. To this day, I’m so glad I didn’t dump Ed over something as superficial as a silly jacket or a fluorescent green shirt. I would have missed out on the best thing in my life.