July 29, 2013

What They've Taught Me

I wrote this post months ago and never posted it...not sure why. But here it is. 

 A Not-Nearly-All-Inclusive List of The Number One Thing I've Learned From Each of These Important People in My Life
(how's that for a subtitle?)

   First, my mom. Mammas should always be first. I have very few singualr light-bulb-moment- type memories of my childhood with my mother. What I do have is more of a general feeling of her presence in nearly all my memories. Which, I think, indicates where I learned to be a present parent in my children's lives as much as possible. She was in mine. As to what she taught me, there are many things...how to bake without making a mess in the kitchen...how to fold hospital corners on flat sheets...and to always say 'I Love You' before hanging up the phone (with someone you love, that is). But I think if I had to choose one, I would say, above all,  that my mother taught me I can do anything. If I am still and close my eyes, I can still hear her saying the words. "You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do." Never, in all of my growing-up years, did I come to her with some scheme or dream to have her put it down. She never told me something was out of my reach or too hard, no matter how illogical or far-fetched or naive my ideas may have been.

Life Lesson from Mom: I Can Do Anything.

  Then there's my dad. I inherited from my father my love of reading, writing, poetry, vocabulary, classic British literature, and, I dare say, sarcastic wit. In contrast to my mother, whose inadvertent teachings pervade nearly all my memories, when I think of what my father taught me, three very direct, specific things come to mind. The first two have proven useful, if not always 100% accurate pieces of advise: Never vote for anyone with poor taste in neckties, and, When all else fails, try Masterpiece Theater. But it is the third life lesson that I remember most clearly and that has meant the most to me throughout the years: Find out what you believe in, and stand by it. Even if you stand alone. I don't know if my dad remembers the day he said this to me, but I've never forgotten it. He and I sat on the astro-turf covered kitchen porch of our small country house, watching the sunset and talking about things which, I'm sure, were mostly beyond me. At least, I don't remember anymore of the conversation than that. But I've done my best to put that teaching into practice. Ironically, many of the things that I've found I believe in have turned out to be things with which my father would disagree. So, in that sense, I do stand alone. But there it is. We teach our children principles, but we cannot dictate how those principles are applied.

Life Lesson from Dad: Find Out What You Believe In, and Stand By It.

  Now Brian. My husband and best friend of thirteen (at the time I write this) years. I don't even have to pause to think about what he has taught me, because I know it and I am grateful for it everyday. Brian has taught me that Life Can be Fun, Even When It's Not. Shall I expound? Brian has taught me that it's okay to find something to laugh about even when the rent is past due and the fridge is empty and the car needs new tires for winter. It's alright to smile to yourself and sing your favorite song even if the weather is yucky and you were late to work. And it's more than okay, it's absolutely necessary, to be happy even when you have failed. Or lost something or someone you loved.

Life Lesson from Brian: Life Can Be Fun, Even When it's Not.

Laurelei is my first baby. I could say she taught me to be a mother, but that wouldn't be exactly true. The skills of Mammahood are learned through being mothered and grandmothered, through observing other Mammas and applying what's learned. And saying Laurelei taught me that would be not only be a role reversal, but it would also be to place her value in the circumstance of her position, rather than the divine nature of her person, her individuality and soul. My beautiful Laurelei has taught me to Make My Actions Consistent With My Words. I have never met anyone truer to her proclaimed standards, more pure and Christlike and loving and fair in heart than my Laurelei. And when I, in my justifications and laziness, become a hypocrite, she tells me so. I see in her the blessed life of one who walks the walk of unconditional love and sometimes, I just want to be that girl.

Life Lesson from Laurelei: Make Your Actions Consistent With Your Words

Riley. He's sitting here, near me, strumming his out-of-tune guitar. How can I narrow it down to one lesson from you, my tender-hearted, wild and crazy, singing-silly-sweet boy? But there it is, as you, without a single guitar lesson behind you, plunk one chord, adjust the knob, and plunk it again and again before making up a tune. My Riley has taught me to Have Patience and Persevere. And I don't mean that in the way most Mammas would say their six-year old sons have taught them patience. I mean that Riley is one of the most patient, just-keep-trying people I have ever met. He'll spend hours figuring something out, and, most of the time, come away successful and happy and proud. Couldn't we all stand to be a little more like that? I know I could.

Life Lesson from Riley: Have Patience and Persevere

My baby boy Jasper is not old enough, as I write this, to have anything I say mean much to him. I hope to be  around when he is. But I will tell everyone who might read these words that Jasper has taught me to Linger in the Quiet Moments of a hug, a snuggling nap, a silly nose-to-nose laugh, a kiss. I think even more, because of the changes that have come about in my life, than my other babies did. Memories are made in those moments. And memories, I believe, are one of the few things we can take with us from this world.

Life Lesson from Jasper: Linger in the Quiet Moments

There are others...my sisters, my closest friends. Too many to list. But never could I express enough love for all of them, never except in living, as best I can, the lessons they've taught me. And hoping we get to learn many more together.