So in case you, the reader, were unaware, I have a mother. In fact, I have an incredible mom to whom I owe much of my character and personality. Although she was most certainly the smartest of everyone in the family and probably could have been some high powered lawyer somewhere, or a leading scientific researcher, or an astronaut, she decided to pour all of her intelligence, passion, gifts, and time into raising me and my 3 siblings. I am truly blessed to have her, I don’t tell her enough. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from my mom over the last 26 years.
1. Your past doesn’t have to define your present – Without going into detail, my mom didn’t have the ideal upbringing. The main issue was her dad, who didn’t find Jesus till much later in his life. Christianity was not present nor encouraged. This made her home life challenging in many ways. I’ve met quite a few people in my life with similar histories, and for the most part, all wear the scars to prove it. Whether its a lack of trust in people, debilitating insecurities, indiscriminate affection, or just unhealthy distancing, people raised in a hostile setting show it in their lives.
If my mom has scars from childhood, they are not visible now. She is confident, unbelievably gracious, elegant, trusting, and secure. She has not allowed any of the hostility experienced as a child play out in her own life as a mother. I had a great childhood, but there are even times when I am tempted to let my past mistakes define how I act today. I’ve learned from my mom, and the example of what Jesus did in her life, that my past doesn’t have to define my present.
2. Unique memories are worth the effort – For most of my childhood, we had an extra storage unit to store Christmas decorations. That’s right, we had so many decorations, we needed an entire storage unit! We now have a giant shed in our backyard for storage, but regardless, it is overwhelming. Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was always dedicated to making multiple trips back and forth from the storage unit to the house bringing our THREE Christmas trees and boxes back to our house. My dad, my brother, and I would do this, not always cheerfully, because my mom loved decorating for Christmas. She loved listening to the music, making the house look beautiful, and maintaining the traditions surrounding the holiday. We all knew what to expect at Christmas time because my mom and dad worked very hard to maintain consistency with regard to tradition.
I didn’t appreciate all the work my mom put into Christmas time until I went away for college. I was surprised how much I missed the decorations, the schedule, and the Mariah Carey Christmas album being played ALL the time in our house. I even downloaded that album one year to secretly play in the car so I could remember home. It was a lot of work on my mom’s part, but she created a unique memory that I will always carry with me. Mariah Carey’s “Silent Night” reminds me how much I am loved. So many events and holidays, especially now, are haphazardly approached. I’ve learned from my mom that good memories take work, but have incredible lasting effects.
3. There is wisdom in talking less – The first time my wife, Lauren, had a meal with my whole family, she was shocked by how loud it was. My family is very close, but we’re all pretty loud and opinionated. So our meals together usually consist of debating politics, theology, philosophy, or just trying to one up each other on jokes. In the course of events, all of us end up saying at least one stupid thing that we wish had never come out of our mouths. All of us, except my mom. Like I said before, my mom is by far the smartest and most eloquent one at the table, but instead of talking too much and putting her foot in her mouth, she just sits back and watches the trainwreck of a conversation crash in front of her. This is a lesson I have barely learned. But any restraint I show in conversation, I learned from my mom.
4. Grace is beautiful – It probably won’t surprise many people, but I did a lot of stupid things growing up. I embarrassed myself and my family and I have no doubts there were times my mom would have rather wrung my neck than hugged me, but she didn’t. I was never shamed by my mom, I was never guilted. Despite the stupid things that I did, I always felt safe in talking to her about them. Now my mom is a beautiful and elegant woman, but a beautiful person without grace can quickly become ugly. My mom has grace, and it makes her beauty all the more incredible. I have learned the power of grace in the way my mom treated me growing up and the way she deals with my idiocracy still.
I know this is cliche, but the list could definitely go on and on. I’m very blessed and I hope my mom has a great Mother’s Day. I love you, mom.
On another related note, the example my mom set for me made the standards for who I married incredibly high. Lauren has exceeded them. If you want to read more from another incredible mom, check out Lauren’s Little Blog Book or my wife’s newest blogging adventure, Dallas Moms Blog.