Learning from the expert

Mum Dad Lindsey 1975

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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  1. Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    I love the “speed limits are suggestions” one and the one about treating all with equal respect, regardless of their standing. She sounds like a very wise woman. My mother, who is also very wise, taught me how to see the wonder in the little things, and to always attempt to see the bright side.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you. What a great lesson from your mom. xoxo

  2. Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I am an extrovert who surrounds herself almost exclusively with introverts 🙂 Must be something about filling in our “gaps,” no?

    My mother, who has been gone 11 years, taught me so many things, many of which I’m just beginning to understand. And, even though she’s no longer here, she’s STILL teaching me things.

  3. Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Whoops! Accidentally hit “Post Comment” prematurely. My mother taught me that you shouldn’t invite more children to a child’s birthday party than the honoree’s age, and although Abra’s only two, so far I have found that to be excellent advice!

    admin Reply:

    That IS excellent advice. And yes, I think perhaps there’s something to filling our gaps!! I’m glad, and not surprised, to hear that your mother keeps teaching you, despite not being bodily here. I can imagine that this weekend is an emotional one. xoxoxo

  4. Nella
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    What exactly right details! I can picture it all, having grown up with your mom as one of my many surrogate moms. I remember that our mom’s taught an improvisational cooking class together once – featuring the “Sally-Susan” method of throwing in a little of this, a little of that. I’m totally influenced by their confident, casual approach to taking care of family and friends with open arms.
    Happy mothers day!

    admin Reply:

    Oh, I am so happy to hear from you! Your mom was definitely an enormous influence on me as well, and I think she and my mother share a huge number of stylistic details. I just added a point about the way they cooked spaghetti on the grill in that long week of no power after hurricane sandy in mattapoisett – do you remember that? xox

  5. Christina Bonney
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Your mother is a true gem. My mother taught me that you can never make “too much food” for a gathering. 😉

    admin Reply:

    That’s something my mother believes too – there is no such thing as too much food! I think it’s a manifestation of her abundance in general! xox

  6. Posted May 9, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    What an awesome (and inspirational) list. She sounds like a wonderful woman, and this post is a great reminder that life should be enjoyed!

    admin Reply:

    That is probably one way to distill her lessons beautifully: this life is to be enjoyed. Thank you! xo

  7. Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I looove this, Lindsey. My mom taught me that often “good enough” IS enough (which is really, really true), that hard work pays off, and that there is a lot of joy in the little things. xox

    admin Reply:

    Both sound like very good advice! I definitely didn’t realize the power of good enough IS enough until I had my own kids. xox

  8. Posted May 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    She exemplifies casual competence and resolute cheerfulness.

    This is what I aspire to:)

    My mom has taught me so much. Goodness, I don’t know where to start. I think Kindness with a capital K. My mother is so kind and giving. And she is an incredible listener. Mostly though, I think she has taught me that getting lost – spiritually or navigationally – is no big deal.

  9. Amy
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Your mom sounds like a wise and wonderful woman! The post makes me wonder what my kids will say/remember about me, though. This is something I’ll be thinking about this weekend…

  10. Posted May 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Your mother sounds AWESOME!! I love the lessons she taught you (and am working to teach many of them to my own children). I love the one about homecooked meals, and am working to teach MYSELF that one. 😉

    Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Posted May 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Happy Mother’s Day, my dear! I love that you picked unusual things that you learned from your mom to make these such vivid, unique memories. Always lovely.

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