Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Mother, My Best Friend

Since my post about my Cousin becoming a mother, I have been thinking quite a bit about my own mother. My mom has taught me many lessons throughout my life. Obviously when I was a young child she taught me the basics of life. However, as I got older many of the lessons that I learned from her were not "taught" per se, but more of observations on my part...observations oh how I should live my life in order to be a good person. She is an incredible example.

My mother has always been the most loving and unselfish woman I know. She has raised 3 kids and always thinks of herself last. She has always had to be thrifty. She made us clothes. She could make us a good supper out of virtually nothing in the cupboard - hence, our love for "toast and goo". She was always willing to sacrifice any little bit that she had to for her children or to help someone else. She is the type of person that would give away something that she loved just to put a smile on someone's face. She very seldom sat down to rest because we always needed something - or at least we thought we did... I remember, as a child, how she would put an extra blanket on my bed in the winter, even if it was HER blanket. I remember so many times, when we were children, she would make sure we had warm coats or new school clothes even though she needed a new coat herself. She has instilled this in me, I now see, as I too find myself putting things back, in the store, so that I can buy things for others.
To this day she knows the exact way I like my scrambled eggs - she makes the best "milk eggs". She would either buy or make us a new pair of slippers every year even though we may not have outgrown our old slippers. Actually, she made us all slippers again for Christmas - and I mean ALL of us, her children and their spouses, her husband's children and their spouses and all the grandchildren. As you can see, she unselfishly gives of herself to each of us even now that we are grown. Even now, my mom lives her daily life showing love to those around her. She unselfishly gives of her time, her resources, her luxuries and sometimes even her sleep. Without any second-thoughts at all, she gives, not wanting anything in return except to be loved back. She doesn't always get that love in return but it does not stop her from giving.
My mother delights in making us and those around her feel special. This, for me, goes way back to my school days. On the first day of school, each year, my mother used to make us "smiley-face toast" and it meant a great deal to us. I recently did this for my husband on his first day at his new job, it really is a delight to do this. I am seeing more and more as I grow older that the actions that fill my heart with joy are actually things that my mother has done before me. Somehow, this woman actually taught me to be a kind, loving, selfless person simply by being my example.

My mother, along with my two grandmothers, taught me manners. I was taught manners that don't seem to exist as much as they used to. Not that kid, and some adults, don't' have manners now...they just aren't the same or maybe they just aren't as important as they used to be. Now that I really think about it, I wasn't taught only manners...I guess it was more about etiquette. I learned many of my manners from our family dinners and outings in public. We had to say please and thank you, have napkin in our laps, chew with our mouths closed, wait for everyone else to be at the table before you start eating and do not talk with food in our mouths. Yes, these are table manners. I also remember being told things such as; a lady does not slouch, a lady does not put her elbows on the table, don't' swing your feet in church - that one really irked my Grandma Waters - , don't put your lipstick on at the table, address your elders with respect and in an appropriate manner - Mr. Smith, Pastor Scott, Grandma Watkins, Uncle Bill; yes, I'm 38 years old and I still wouldn't dare call my Uncle Bill just Bill, that's not respectful, personal grooming is done in private - I recently witnessed a 17 year old in a restaurant cutting her fingernails at the table...good grief - and ultimately "Always be polite, as manners are how we show other that we have respect for them." I would not say that my mother or grandmothers would rival Hyacinth Bucket ~that's "boo-kay"~ in her efforts to "keep up with appearances" - that's a British comedy reference for those of you who follow. I would just say that my mother has good manners and wanted us to be raised to be respectful, respectable and polite.

My mother has always been the best friend I could ever ask for. Even as a teenager, I never really had a rebellious phase. I generally did what I was told, even today. Mother knows best, but that doesn't make me a pushover. Instead, it makes me someone who respects the advice of both my mother and my best friend who are one in the same. A mother's love is unconditional which isn't always the case with best friends. I can choose my friends, but I can't choose my mother. Ours is an everlasting bond. If I didn't often say I love her...well, I don't really know what would happen because I always tell her that I love her. She's my mother, my best friend.

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