Today is the day everyone recognizes and shows their appreciation and love for the woman that birthed them. Happy Mothers Day y’all! Especially to my own mother, Melanie. Here are just a few of the countless lessons my mom (and I’m sure your mom) has taught me throughout my existence.
“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” – Tenneva Jordan
Selflessness. It takes a lot to carry another human being inside you for weeks. And if that’s not enough for you, the giving birth thing? Yikes. Kidding and birth stories aside, my mom has taught me the absolute art of being selfless. Our family has always come first for her. Making sure we were fed, taken care of, healthy and happy. I’m still at the point of my life (who are we kidding, I’ll be at this “point” for awhile, to be honest) where everything is all about ME. Weekends are ME time – I do whatever I want. My mom spent essentially every weekend (up until her recent empty nesting) doing whatever we needed done: driving us to swim/crew/soccer/basketball/volleyball/softball at the crack of dawn to obscure places, shopping for us, making food for us, etc. I pray one day that gene will kick in for me…
The importance of bringing people together with food. Albeit, we all learned this from my grandma, but this lesson has always resonated with all of us. My mom loves cooking… I think it’s less for the skill and finesse (although she has a lot of both), and more for the outcome of seeing everyone together eating. It doesn’t matter what we’re making, I love cooking and eating with my Mom. Even if we’re at a family dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Oakland, the emphasis on bringing everyone together is always there. Food is the key to the soul.
How to entertain. Melanie is the ultimate party planner. Alex and I had the hottest parties of elementary school… pirate themed [see Exhibit A], Harry Potter themed, etc. complete with intricate decor, magicians, games, contests, and entertainment (which sometimes was outsourced to older neighbors or nannies). Obviously we have outgrown that, but Melanie still has a knack for dinner party planning. She knows the essentials: what alcohol do we need and what mixers/glassware is necessary?; what will we eat?; what does she need to buy at Costco?; It’s truly an art.
You have to work hard to get what you want. One of the most irritating things my Mom always said while we were growing up was “God helps those who help themselves”. It’d be a mundane thing like, Mom, can you make me a sandwich? to which she’d respond “God helps those who help themselves” (I see right through it now, Mom. Religion as a cop out? Good one!) Regardless, my Mom was never one to baby us and was a firm believer in doing things yourself. This message has come across both explicitly and implicitly ever since I could say the words “glass ceiling”. My mom busted her ass off to get a Masters by busting her ass of in universities, then busted her ass off some more to get to where she is in her career now. She knows she worked hard to get where she is, I know it. I’ve learned the importance of assuming that nothing will ever be handed to me, instead, I have to bust my motherfucking ass off to get exactly what I want. Even if its as simple as the respect of my peers. Melanie defines HBIC… so obviously I am my mother’s daughter.*
Don’t spoil others’ fun. When my sister and I were younger, the highlights of our days was when our parents would come home and relieve the nanny. Like dogs, every time we heard a car pull into the driveway, Alex and I would hide somewhere and “scare” our Mom or Dad (whoever was the first unlucky parental to return home). I think we stopped at the age of when I could no longer comfortably hide behind the couch, but I do remember that my parents ALWAYS acted surprised and in complete shock. They never let on that they were tall enough to see behind the couch and could see us (and expected us) every night.
Treat yourself. A lot of the time when I try to justify a spending spree or a massage/manicure I will call my Mom and tell her what a rough week I had or how I just needed to update my wardrobe. 90% of the time she’d agree and support my financial decisions. 10% of the time I’m usually just being absurd. But in all seriousness, Melanie has taught me that its good and healthy to pamper and treat yourself every so often because you deserve it! She has very much instilled in me a sense of good quality. Don’t worry though, the woman is always on the search for a good bargain and sale too.
Travel. My mom LOVES airports. Which is great considering the amount of international travel she does. Sometimes I’ll call my parents only to find one of them is in Brazil, Shanghai, India, London, Frankfurt, who knows really. I, too have learned to love airports. My mom loves them because she loves people watching and seeing where people are coming from and where they possibly could be going. My parents have both shown me that travelling is important. As a family we’ve been to places all over the United States, Italy, France, Turkey, Spain, Greece, each time learning more about the expanse of cultures, peoples, practices, foods in the world. Granted, vacationing in the Italian/French Riviera is a primary desire, but with it comes the exposure to people and tastes all over the world, something I’ve been blessed my parents have been able to open me up to. There are so many places to go and people to see…Melanie has always been a strong proponent of that.
How to be a woman. Sure, she took me bra shopping back in the day… She always says things like “A woman should always have a nice pencil skirt” which pencil skirt can be replaced by anything such as pair of wineglasses, good glassware, a nice purse, a pearl necklace,etc. And I’ve always taken note, of course. But more importantly is how she has always taught me how to be a lady, by being the best example for me that was humanly possible. I take her explicit advice, but also use her as my standard. I’m always thinking, Would Melanie approve? Sometimes the answer may be no (but I know you still love me, right Mom?), but most of the time, almost all of the time, the answer is yes…. because she always loves me unconditionally.
Moms are the best confidants and best friends. One year when we spent Easter in Hawaii, I went shopping with my Mom to buy some “Easter bunny stuff” that we’d put in a basket for Alex. That was the same time my Mom accidentally let the cat out of the bag that there was actually no “Easter bunny” (I think that I had had my suspicions), but also marked one of the first times I remember sharing a secret with my Mom. My mom has not only been my best friend to share everything with, but also one of my fiercest advocates (and a great drinking buddy). And for that I am grateful.
So Happy Mother’s Day, Melanie, the one that birthed me into being. The woman that has made me the sassy chick I am today. I love you!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Moms out there that read this blog! Know that beyond your offspring calling you, they are always grateful for everything that you do and the role models you are to them