RLL 31--3 Things I Learned From My Mom (And Other Moms)
For each of the past few weeks, I've been sharing bits of what I learned from my dad in terms of leadership. Today, on Mother's Day, we're going to change the focus and shine it on the most underappreciated people in the world: mothers. I've been blessed to have a wonderful and caring mom, one who appreciates good humor (and silly jokes) and is gentle and kind, but also one who is also tough as hickory and didn't allow my siblings and me to get away with much.
I'm also blessed to have an amazing wife who is, in my biased opinion, the greatest stepmom in the world. I know the statistics show that divorce and remarriage has become more common, and if anything, that would tell me that being a stepparent is becoming harder, rather than easier. Yet she handles it with grace, humility, and compassion on a daily basis, even when I ask more of her than I have any right to. She has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. And I know she got that from her mother and her grandmother, two of the most kindhearted people imaginable.
Without further delay, here are three quick things I've learned from mothers that we would all do well to emulate:
1) Do whatever it takes to take care of those you love.
I remember my mom being a nurse for all of my life, and thus she was always very busy. Dad also worked full-time, and so between them life got done, but it was pretty hectic with three kids going to school, playing sports, being involved in church, and going to various other events. Mom was great at making sure that whatever was needed was taken care of, so that we didn't have to stress: lunches were made (until we were old enough to take care of that ourselves), chores were done (and as we got older, she had us also do more of those), and everyone got wherever they needed to go.
Now that I have two kids and I work a lot, I appreciate even more the amount of effort it must have taken, and it's nothing short of amazing. Even as she got older and her job changed due to promotions at work, Mom was always there to take care of us, and she was always there to support us. In fact, she still is, and it's a lesson we can all benefit from: do whatever is necessary to care for those you love.
2) Be generous with your time, effort, and emotions.
Mom has a lot of family that lives around our area, and though she has moved a couple hours away, she still comes home regularly to see them. This has become increasingly important as she and her family have gotten older. Yesterday Mom and I went to visit her last remaining uncle on her dad's side: he was recently sent home with hospice care. He is 88 years old, and he and his wife have been married for 72 of those years (they got married in 1945 at ages 16 and 15!). We sat a while and talked, and mom hugged her uncle and aunt (possibly for the last time), and as we were driving home, the tears began to flow.
Mom has always made time to come and see her family, both immediate and extended, and this is a habit we all can do better with. Whether it's family or simply those who need our help, we can make a huge impact on those around us be being giving of ourselves in terms of time, effort, and emotions.
3. Even when no one notices all you do, be confident that what you do makes a difference.
I mentioned in the beginning here that moms are the most underappreciated people in the world, and I stand by that statement. Even when kids are tiny, moms put in ridiculous amounts of hours that no one sees: feeding, caring, reading, etc. And that's just at home! For working moms, it's doubly-difficult. And from having talked with and worked with many moms, it seems that most of what they do goes unseen. So I'd like to take this opportunity to say two things. First, THANK YOU, for all the things you've done that go unseen and unappreciated. And second, please know that everything you do matters and makes a difference, even if it isn't seen or commented upon.
The sum of all of your effort couldn't possibly be tallied or counted, but it absolutely makes a difference on everyone. It impacts those of us around you, and those unseen things are often the things that make life possible. So today, and everyday, when you feel unappreciated or that your efforts are going unnoticed, please know how grateful we are and how big a difference you are making. Again, since I became a parent I've realized just how much my mom did for us that I never even saw. And so now I try to be sure and go back and tell Mom how grateful I am for all of those things.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Biological, step, grand, in-law, and all other kinds: you are wonderful, you are loved, and we appreciate you more than we tell you! Happy Mother's Day!