Monday Musings: To teach without talking

Today I’m thinking about my mom and appreciating what an amazing teacher she has been to me.

She was a stay at home mom for almost all of her adult life. She raised eight kids while our dad worked. She and Dad are on the old fashioned side as far as husband/wife roles. Mom always did the housework, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. She also made Dad’s lunch and ironed his clothes!

(I cracked myself up making this image. Lol)

She raised the children for the most part. Dad provided the income and was the more dominant, decision-making, authoritative parent. He laid down the law and enforced it. He always had words of wisdom like “choose your friends wisely” and often spoke about being respectful, working hard and doing the right thing. He’s the one who gave us “a talking to” which usually happened when we were being scolded. He had some great advice but, thinking back, I now realize his approach wasn’t always the most effective for me. It’s hard to learn from someone when they are angry or disappointed in you. I know he meant well and did learn some valuable lessons from him. I definitely have gotten my hard work ethics from him.

Recently though, I’ve been realizing how much I really learned from Mom. She is a woman of few words. Those words are usually more insightful than they originally seem.

For example, I recall telling her my problems, not too long ago actually. I was crying to her telling her a story of some trauma that happened to me in the past. She lovingly listened. I know she really heard every word and felt my pain. However, in the end she only said, “you’re ok now.” In her infinite wisdom she knew that it wouldn’t make sense to continue to dwell on it and that I needed her to just hear me. Truly, it was all I needed to hear from my mom. She didn’t say anything negative about my dwelling or the person who hurt me or anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Truly, that is so wise. It totally took me out of my head and into the present moment. I felt so safe after hearing that.

Her replies were always gems while I was growing up too. She never argued or even raised her voice at any of us kids. How that is even possible, I do not know. Don’t get me wrong, she did occasionally raise a wooden spoon. Lol I don’t remember being swatted by her though. It was always just a threat. It was almost comical like “uh-oh, Mom’s really mad now. She’s got the wooden spoon!” She had plenty of reasons to scold or swat us to be sure. When all of us were together there was always a commotion. It seemed like one of us was always getting into some sort of trouble.

I recall complaining as a young teenager that I didn’t have anything nice to wear to school. This was an ongoing morning battle cry for a while. Mom always said the same thing. It drove me absolutely crazy at the time. She’d say, “then go naked.” It wasn’t even really sarcastic. It was just her answer to my ridiculous rants about how everyone else had more than I and whatever I had wasn’t good enough. She knew that I would inevitably find something to wear to school. And I did. My complaints were pointless. So one day I stopped complaining, realizing it wasn’t getting me anywhere with her or doing myself any good.

If I was fighting with my sister she’d say, “stop fighting before you get hurt.” Of course, we’d end up hurt and go crying to her, blaming the other. She didn’t coddle us if we did get hurt, choose sides or yell about it. It just was what it was. We knew she told us so and she knew she told us so. It didn’t need to be said. She simply allowed us to work it out, get over it and learn our lessons.

Mom taught me that you don’t need to raise your voice to be heard. You don’t need to say more than is necessary to make a point. You don’t have to have the last word. To be soft spoken can be very powerful. To be open while listening is to truly hear and understand someone. You don’t need to take credit for anything you perceive to be good or feel guilty about some mistake you perceive to be bad. There is strength in being able to go with the flow even though it doesn’t look like it.

Mostly my mom taught me things through example hence the title of this post. She is a natural beauty who never wears a lot of makeup (though she does “put on her eyebrows” and wear lipstick and a little blush for special occasions). She dresses simply and never tries to impress anyone. She’s always true to herself. She appreciates the little things and never seeks material possessions. As a teenager, I used to think she was out of fashion or too simple. I just didn’t understand what classic beauty was. At the time I didn’t understand what being down to earth meant and what a beautiful trait that is to have. To truly not worry about what anyone else thinks is an authentic way to live. People strive for that and sometimes never attain it.

Mom treats everyone with kindness and compassion. She has always done what needed to be done for the family without expecting anything in return. Everything she does is with her whole heart. I think that’s beautiful.

When I was younger I saw my dad as the hard worker (and hard-working he’s always been!) but my dear mom had a baby in diapers (cloth, mind you) every year for about ten years. Not to mention every bottle she gave us was boiled in water on the stove to be sterilized. She didn’t have a dishwasher back then. Most of the time while raising us she didn’t even have a microwave!

Occasionally, she gets meals that are simple to prepare now that it’s just her and dad at home, but when raising us she cooked full meals every single day.

She’s the best cook because the main ingredient is always love (I really do believe that). Seriously, she can even make a sandwich to die for. She has the magic touch in the kitchen.

She loves us all equally and has been there for us always.

She is so real. I don’t know how else to explain her personality. She thinks, speaks and acts in alignment with herself with whomever she’s interacting. She’s genuinely herself at all times.

I wish I’d thought about all I learned from her sooner. I’m 50 years old and am just realizing this for some reason. I’ve always known I was lucky to have her, don’t get me wrong. Mom’s always been one of my closet “people” during my whole life. Maybe now that she’s approaching 80 I have a different perspective. Now that I’m older too, I have a lot to reflect back on.

Recently, my oldest sister posted a comment on my Facebook page in regards to a selfie I posted. She said I looked just like Mom. It warms my heart to think that I look like her. I’d like to think I’m becoming more like her all the time.

I wish everyone had the type of mom I had growing up. I’ve been so lucky and blessed. She should write a book on parenting. Maybe I’ll interview her for some of my posts.

It’s funny how we’ve been shaped by our parents in ways we might have never really thought about until much later. It just shows the importance of parenting and how different parenting styles affect us. Maybe some kids need more of a disciplinarian like my dad. It’s fascinating really.

What lessons have you learned from your parents that you realized later in life?

Thank you for reading.

May you be happy and well.

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