September 5th, 2007

Lessons I learned from my mom, Part III...

Life's Mishmash

I could seriously post every day for years and not reach the depth of my mom's wisdom :) But to finish up this little series, I thought I'd jump to the crux: Life is complicated (shocker).

My mom is the first person to admit (and suggest) that there's no one right answer for everyone. Even though she was adamant about certain things when I was young (as in elementary school age), by the time I was a teen, she'd learned that life is complex enough that you can't make across-the-board judgments. for example, the last lesson involved problems in marriage -- and certainly, judging from a couple of the responses, it implied that marriage should be forever. Actually, however, my mom doesn't believe that. For her, divorce wasn't an option -- though she assured my brother and me that if she'd ever feared for our safety, she would have left. That didn't happen in our case, but whenever it does, she would be the first person advocating divorce :)

My cousin found herself in an awful marriage a few years ago -- the man she married had fooled many people; she wasn't the first. There are many zealous people on that side of our family, and most of them told my cousin that she was trapped -- that she had to perservere and reap the fruits of her mistake. My mom was not one of them. Instead, she reminded my cousin that her safety and happiness were of utmost importance -- and divorce is not the end of the world (not even close).

Other little tidbits I've gleaned:

1) Don't fight dirty. This applies to any relationship (spouse, parent-child, friend) -- always treat the other person as you want to be treated. She specifically would mention my husband and children: with DH, she used to say that even when I was angry (even if justified), that I either choose my words carefully or wait until I could; with the kiddos, remember that they're people too and use a respectful tone. I have seen many of my friends fight with their spouses, and too few of them follow this tidbit. They call names and use a very condescending tone of voice. This, of course, is another of those relationship rules that works for the better of the relationship only when both parties are committed to following it!

2) Things can't be bad forever. This is actually something that she has to remind herself, I think. But I tell myself this often. When life is hard, there will come a day when the sun will again shine brightly. My maternal grandma died from Lou Gehrig's disease. My mom spent 13 months in CA taking care of her (because my grandpa couldn't do it alone) -- through that, my mom saw many days where life was just awful. Her mom, the once talkative and bright woman, couldn't speak or move. She couldn't even eat. but her mind hadn't lost any of that sharpness. It was my mom who finally encouraged my grandma to let go. She told her that she couldn't remain in CA any longer, that her own family needed her. She reminded my grandma that life didn't end with this world -- that she had something better awaiting her, if she could just gather her courage one last time. Thirteen years later, my grandpa had his turn at death's dance. He died of prostate cancer, and again, my mom was there at his side. That time it was only a few months, for my grandpa was older, wiser, more willing to say good-bye. My mom bathed him, took care of his bodily functions, fed him. And then she let him go.

3) There is beauty to be found, if you're willing to look. I'm grouchy by nature (well, that's my excuse). My mom has to remind me of this often, because I usually don't want to look. But when I take the time and the effort, she's right...the beauty is there, somewhere, even if it's as small as a single ray shining through the leaves of the trees.

I'll stop here, because three is a good number. Any lessons you know that I've missed?
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