The older I get, the smarter my mom gets. (Funny how that happens).
She celebrates her 80th birthday this month. She's practically a matriarchal genius. As far as mothering goes, she's seen it all -- and done it all.
She raised seven children to adulthood, kept us from annihilating ourselves (and, at times, each other), fed and clothed us on a shoestring income, helped dad with his television repair business (taking care of customers, hauling bulky televisions, and keeping the books), and managed to mother most of the neighborhood's ragamuffin kids too.
On Sunday, during church service tributes honoring mothers, naturally I thought of her. All those decades of mothering have crystallized into some significantly wise bits of knowledge which she condensed to zingy, truth-filled one-liners to whip out for the edification and correction of her brood during the daily demands of raising a small tribe. Most moms distribute tidbits of wisdom similar to hers:
* Be a doer, not a viewer.
* Bad times won't last forever. Neither will good times.
* The world does not revolve around you.
* Not everyone who looks happy is. But everyone who looks sad is.
* You were never meant to be an island, so stop acting like one.
* People are important not because they say so but because you think so.
* You can never selfish your way to happiness.
* Families can be forever. Sometimes forever seems like it's already here.
* Life is not fair. So stop trying to make it fair.
* Raising children is the hardest thing you will ever do. Fortunately it's also the most rewarding, or the human race would have died out generations ago. Ditto if men had to have the babies.
* You can feed a family of six on a half pound of hamburger and three potatoes.
* You don't need to buy everything new. Besides, five minutes after something's bought, it's used.
* Doing good never goes unrewarded. Neither does doing bad.
* Don't compare yourself to others. You'll use your worst side and their best side, and you'll always come out last.
* If you do something wrong, you will get caught. The hard part is not knowing when. It's just not worth the worry.
* If someone spreads an untruth about you, let your behavior prove they're a liar.
* There's no way to love all your children equally, because they're not equal. Just love them for who they are.
* Squirrel some chocolate away for the time when you have to be noble and give up the last piece of cake to someone. It doesn't mean you're being deceitful. It just means you plan ahead.
* Things sometimes fall apart and we throw them away. People sometimes fall apart, but we hang onto them tighter than ever, and help make the repairs.
* There will always be someone in this world worse off than you. If you can find them and do something to make their lives better, your own life will be made better. It's an absolute fact.
Sooner or later, most of us will hear our mom's words coming out of our mouths, usually directed at our own children. The first time this happens is stunning. We get used to it, though, because as our lives progress, we become comfortably familiar with the truth in what we're saying. We end up wanting those tidbits of wisdom to flow from her to us to ours to theirs.
They say that with age comes wisdom. That's not entirely true. Experience has to be involved too. And no other group has more experience in human relations than moms. They conquer hard times, overcome huge problems, and make the impossible possible. That's what makes them wise.
And able to spout out depthy truisms that shape the next generation's lives.
You can contact D. Louise Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.