While reflecting the other day, I wondered where we pick up things in life that help shape us as people. We all experience different events, and those events, interactions, and examples (good or bad) shape the very nature of who we become. Some of who we are is the product of who our parents were and we take some of it from them, reject some, but it shapes us nonetheless.
There were things I learned from my Mom. You see, she was a single mom raising three boys. She worked primarily as a waitress her entire life. The hours allowed her to be there in the morning, and when we got home from school, but the work was hard. Three major lesson come to mind that were passed from her to us. Intentionally or not, those lessons were pretty clear.
Be Tough. Work Hard. Celebrate Events.
Be Tough. This may have been less intentional, but more a product of circumstance. Money was tight, our roof leaked (a lot), and there were times when chopping wood was the deciding factor between being warm or cold. I am sure there were days when she wondered if she could make it another day, but she kept pushing forward. She demonstrated that even when life is hard (which it totally is at times), you need to be tough in order to survive.
Work Hard. Long hours and weekends on her feet “slinging hash” as she liked to call it, was what she did. It is not glamorous work, but it paid the bills (most of the time). Weeks, months, and years passed and you could tell that the work took its toll. Sore feet, sore shoulders, and shoes that looked like they had seen a war. I recently remembered sitting down as a kid and helping her dab on that white shoe polish that would make those shoes look like new again.
Celebrate Events. Whether it was a birthday, a holiday, or some life event, we celebrated. When I look at old photos, I can see the amazing cakes she decorated, the cookouts we had, the birthday parties with all of our friends. Despite the lack of funds, we had fun. When report cards came, if you did well, you got a “skip day” that meant a whole day with Mom doing something fun.
These lessons helped shape who I am today. I have had to be tough to ensure hardship. Working hard helped me in life, in college (I was the first in many generations to attend), and in my career. Most of all, I love to celebrate events. Birthdays, anniversaries, or life events are savored like fine wine.
The other major lesson that is buried deep is an appreciation for what I have. And it sometimes hits me in weird ways. A roof that doesn’t leak. Heat when you turn up the thermostat. The ability to fill the gas tank in the car without having to dive into my change stash. All of these things we may take for granted, but it is nice to remember and be content.
By the way, I don’t think she reads this blog and she would be embarrassed to be the subject matter. But just in case she reads this someday…
Thanks for the lessons, Mom.