Who knows what life would be like if she were still here. Twenty four more years of her wisdom on this earth. Maybe she’d have her own blog. Maybe she would have written books. Maybe we could have written one together. Alas, her words from the past still ring true today so I’ll share them with you in her place. Some direct quotes from a letter she wrote to me and my sisters are included. She was a funny lady. A little sarcastic/sassy but with the warmest, most thoughtful heart and so much peace. Time can’t steal our memories and I have so many good ones. Miss you mama!
People do get dumber!
My sister once used this as an excuse why she got a poor grade and while mom thought it was hilarious at the time, she came to find that it was true, if you’re lucky. “I went along struggling to be this perfect person and built up some large walls so no one could see the real me. I didn’t think that anyone could love me if I wasn’t perfect, didn’t have all the answers, had fears and needs of my own. Thank God I got dumber!…..You can learn that your way isn’t the only way, that you don’t have to be in charge of the whole show, that other people’s ideas might work, that your first thought might not be the best one — that if you get quiet and ask for God’s will and not yours (and stay quiet long enough to listen) things really do seem to work out better.”
Play on the floor with Tupperware
“With your children, not by yourself, you’ll look ridiculous!” Mom spent much of her young life trying to be perfect and living up to someone else’s expectations. Hindsight knows this is never the way to happiness. She got wiser in her years and displayed that with her grandkids. The Tupperware cabinet was free game and she let them into it whenever they came over. It would drive a new mom crazy to have breakable dishes or sharp objects at kid level, so why put them there? The Tupperware would be strewn over the floor and called for extra washing, but she’d tell you that nothing beats a pause in a busy day to sit on the floor with the kiddos and play with them. Watch your kids imagine serving you a pizza or mixing up some cookies. The magic of enjoying a child’s imagination and letting them PLAY is really incredible.
Give your children wings
This was helpful to read as my kids are at an age that I need to let go a bit more. “Over the years I’ve learned that our children aren’t ours — they’re loaned to us by God for a short time to love and guide them as best we can. Then we have to set them free. You have to let them make decisions (even if they aren’t yours), you have to let them hurt sometimes, you have to hope they’ll know that they’re responsible for their actions, not someone else. All this while hoping you are ‘doing a good job,’ wanting to protect them from any pain, knowing that you certainly know what’s best for your child.” So much easier said than done mama!
Nobody can hurt you unless you let them
Well this is a tricky one because yes, at first instinct if someone talks behind your back, lies to you, etc. it hurts. But her point was why do we let the opinions of others mean anything to us? When somebody does or says something hurtful we need to take the time to consider the source. Is this person a trusted friend meaning well, is it a loving spouse who spoke some truth we didn’t want to hear? Well then maybe we do need to hear it. But overall, the only opinion that counts is between you and God. If you are doing right by him, other opinions do not matter. We spend so much time worried what others think. Often when other’s spew hate it’s because of their own dissatisfaction in life. Ignore the haters (clearly my word, not mom’s) and focus on doing right by the bible. She’d also definitely throw something in about the people you surround yourself with. Stop spending time with people who people who treat you badly!
I got it from my mama — man am I guilty of this. She was an expert in doing it so as she grew in wisdom she knew to tell us to stop. What is projecting? Here is an example: I could ask people over for a party. But everyone is really busy. They probably have other plans. I never get invited anywhere so they probably don’t even like me. If it rains it will be more dangerous to drive so the ones who said yes will stay home. My house isn’t nice enough. I should remodel it first. They probably think I’m boring. Nevermind, I guess I won’t have a party.
If you heard a friend spiral like this you would tell them they were ridiculous but it’s harder to recognize this behavior in ourselves. Fear and what-ifs can be paralyzing. First Mom would look at you and remind you that you give yourself too much credit — that you are giving yourself way too much power. Then she’d soften a bit and tell you to have a little faith. Nobody grows from playing it safe.
Take care of yourself
I always say you can’t fill other’s cups if yours is empty. Time for yourself, especially if you’re a mom, is so important for your worth, identity and energy. I thought I was so clever. Apparently she may have planted that seed in my brain. Thanks mama! “Something I’ve learned that is so hard for me to do, but so important — the better I take care of me, the more of me is left to take care of those I love. I need to be quiet, to figure out my needs and wants and then go from there.”
We don’t eat it that often
Ok, maybe you shouldn’t take this advice. Mom was a fantastic cook but nothing about it was healthy. Mom thought taste trumped health because, “we don’t eat it that often.” Only trouble was that she said that about A LOT of things!! Fried chicken, Dairy Queen, mac and cheese…..Yes, treat yourself. But a different fattening food each day is still bad for you. Sorry mom!
Your spouse comes before your kids
Mom was a big proponent of this one. She even cut out an article about it and gave us girls each a copy. I was only 17 at the time but she saved it for me because it was that important of a message. Maybe empty nesters can attest to this. When your children move away you better still like the person you’re living with. This is why my husband and I still have date nights and why we escape the house to be without the kids. Our friendship needs feeding and nurturing to make it the long haul.
I could make that!
Oh mom. Here’s another tricky one. She was so crafty that she’d see something and say she could make it herself, in theory saving money. And that’s awesome because working with your hands and having the satisfaction of completing a project is exhilarating. But we often don’t make the time or it takes longer than anticipated or we really don’t have the skill. So that said, It’s ok to pay professionals to do things for you, whether it’s making a wreath or laying tile. Sometimes “done” is more important than “done by you.”
And if you take anything from this today…
“Sticking to the phrase, ‘kind thoughts, kind words, kind deeds’ helps me — if it doesn’t fit, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it.”
I hate it when she’s right.
So there you go. My mama’s advice in a (long) nutshell. I am so blessed to have her wisdom written in letters to still help guide and teach me all these years later. You can also read her “Joys of Camping” edition.
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