Groundhog Day is always a special day no matter what Phil prognosticates. Why? Because it’s my Mom’s birthday. I may look like my Dad but my mind can be primarily credited to my mother. I think like her, compete like her (particularly when it comes to Scrabble) and laugh like her! She is a superstar in the world of parenting and so much of what I do (the good stuff at least) is due to her influence.
I offer a Top Five Lessons Learned list in tribute to my Mom!
5. Family is More Than Blood
My parents brought my brother Chris home from the hospital when he was just under one year of age. Chris needed a loving home in which to die. Four months prior to his homecoming, Chris became a pawn in a domestic dispute between his biological parents. The man (only by genetics, not in definition) picked up Chris and threw him down a flight of stairs. The resulting head injury left this sweet, innocent baby paralyzed, blind and fighting for his life. Experimental hypothermia induction and brain surgery shortly after the injury saved his life but, his prognosis meant he wouldn’t see his 2nd birthday.
Chris became the featured “Friday’s Child” in our local newspaper. A loving home for pediatric hospice was needed. My mom read the story and immediately felt drawn to him. Innocent, rejected, alone — this boy needed a mother — she answered the call. I was six at the time and had three siblings. My Mom’s enthusiasm for taking on the challenges of Chris infected us all. We loved him and rallied around him to provide this guy the best life possible. Before you knew it, his second birthday arrived. Four or so additional brain surgeries and shunt revisions followed in the early years of his life but despite this Chris thrived. The reason, I believe, is his love of and devotion for the woman he called “Ma”.
Chris turned 40 last year and that boy loves his Mom more than ever. We all hold our breath when my mother takes any extended time away from Chris (>24 hours) — he becomes miserable until she returns. It’s like a reset button gets pushed when she walks back through the door. He knows what she is – she did not give birth to him but she did give him life!
4. Momma Don’t Like Drama
Self-pity does not exist in my mother’s world. She doesn’t tolerate it in herself and doesn’t tolerate it in others. This may sound harsh but, I’ve learned through this that looking inward tends to costs those on the outward. Inversely, a focus on meeting the needs of others, typically feeds the soul.
Additionally, her attitude on this subject builds resilience and enables one to endure. She taught me that having diabetes (or any “disability”) is something that can make one stronger not weaker, that badness can be turned to goodness and that life’s tougher experiences lead one to greater compassion and empathy.
3. If Mom Ain’t Happy…
I don’t want to elaborate greatly on this point — I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble! Just let me say that many of the lessons I shared in FOR MEN ONLY: Keeping Her Satisfied started in my childhood. I’ll leave it at that!
2. There’s Points for Creativity in Discipline
My mother says one day she’ll right a book — I’d recommend one on discipline! Knowing I could be beaten within an inch of my life and not learn anything, my mother took a more creative approach to discipline: THE OBJECT LESSON!
An Example: Growing up, I had a beloved Golden Retriever mix dog named Daisy. Daisy’s coat was thick and beautiful but a burden during the hot months of Summer. She’d drink like horse to counteract the fluid loss from “wearing” her fur. It was my job to make sure her bowl was filled with fresh, cold H2O but I’d often forget. I’d be busy playing outside, getting into trouble and just “not remember”. This was nothing short of unacceptable to my mother!
“Adam”, I hear Mom melodically sing out the window “could you come inside?” A cool shiver runs down my spine (despite the 100 degree July heat) as I respond, “Coming!”. I know from the tone I’m caught. At what? The possibilities are endless. The answer lies in my father’s bearskin coat now held in my mother’s grasp. “What did you forget to do?”, she asks. Frantically, racking my brain (and not wanting to confess to the wrong sin) I reply, “I don’t know.” She points towards Daisy’s water bowl and my knees buckle — bone dry! Slowly, I turn my gaze back to Mom and she gives the coat a shake. She wants me to put it on. I attempt to resist but as they say — that’s futile — the coat is going on! I slip into the coat, which weighs a third of my total body weight and hear my mother say “Run!”. She doesn’t mean walk and she doesn’t mean jog. She means full out Usain Bolt it around the house until she says stop! I comply but slow as I round the corner. “RUNNNNN!” she shouts from the corner window — Good Lord she following me around from inside the house. Window to window this continues for 15 minutes. The bear fur causes me to lose as much fluid from sweat, as I do tears. Daisy never goes thirsty for the remainder of that summer.
Touché Mom, Touché!
1. Parenting is Sacrifice
My Mom gave up a lot to raise eight kids. She put off her college education until I was almost done mine. She spent long nights at our hospital bedsides praying and caring for us. She lost countless hours of sleep helping us with homework, sewing clothes and working thankless jobs. She made holidays special with gifts that she couldn’t afford and meals fit for royalty. She pioneered special needs adoption (Read WHY GOD? from apatientnurse.com some insight) never saying no to the most vulnerable and needy within our world.
So today, I don’t care if Phil thinks it’s six more weeks of winter. My heart is warmed celebrating a hero — Happy Birthday Mom!!!