The older I get, and the more established in my own mothering patterns, the more I appreciate this woman. The one who taught me everything I need to know. The one whose middle name is the same as mine and as Grace’s. The one whose hair my sister and I unabashedly share (I remember her saying, when we were children, that sometimes – for example if we were whiny in a store – she wished our hair didn’t make us so glaringly, unquestionably hers!).
My mother has a big, shiny, extroverted personality. She exemplifies casual competence and resolute cheerfulness. She is a hugely effective natural leader, she’s never met someone she didn’t welcome into her life with open arms, and she has a million friends. When she enters a room the energy shifts palpably; her charisma is both entirely natural and absolutely undeniable. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that most of my very closest friends are sparkly extroverts. It occurs to me that maybe I’m just trying to surround myself with people like my mother.
Though I don’t generally go in for big mother’s day celebrations (the day just feels a bit artificial to me), today seems as good a time as any to reflect on some of the important lessons she passed on to me:
– Sailing is an art, not a science. Knowing how to read the water and the wind, how to time a racing start, how to know when to tack to make that harbor entrance is all pure instinct.
– Speed limits are suggestions.
– So are the times that people put on invitations. Or start times in general.
– There is always, 100% of the time, a way to see the good in a person or situation. There is no use in dwelling on the negatives because there is so much positive to celebrate in the world.
– There’s no better outfit to garden in than a towel wrapped around a just-out-of-the-shower body.
– Cooking dinner for someone is a way of demonstrating love, and homemade food is grace incarnate. Let there be no obstacle to this: I remember Mum and Sally cooking spaghetti on the grill during the power outages after Hurricane Sandy.
– Always, without exception treat everyone you encounter – a superior at work, a server at a restaurant, the gate agent at the airport, a member of the royal family – with the same degree of respect and kindness.
– Outdoor showers are hugely superior and can be used at least 10 months of the year (in New England).
– Picking people up at the airport is a really nice thing to do.
– Handwritten thank you notes are essential. Always.
– Throwing together a gourmet dinner for 10 with an hour’s notice and no special grocery store trip? No problem. Recipes? Unnecessary. Fresh flowers? Crucial.
What did your mother teach you?
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