Of the many things that I have going right in my life, I can count being on good terms with my mother as one of them.
We live on opposite coasts of the country but I am lucky to know that she is there whenever I am having a crisis and need someone to talk to. I may not always like what she has to say once I am done ranting. The important thing is that she is willing to listen.
Here are a few things I have gathered from almost thirty years of watching, talking to, and sometimes listening to her…
- Life is too short not to be enjoyed. It is crucial to take joy in life, or else it will become a sad, miserable thing. There are situations where laughing is inappropriate, true, but there are also cases where laughing is the only thing that you can do. It may also be a sign of stark raving lunacy.
- Follow your dreams, but be prepared. Getting what you think you want often takes a lot of work and it may not always be what you want by the time you get it. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. Just bring a crash helmet with you in case something goes drastically wrong.
- Karma is real and sometimes painful. I was a little princess when I was a teenager, and not in the cute tulle-and-tiaras kind of way. I was difficult. Now, when people ask me what I do in the military, I half-jokingly say that I raise other people’s children. “You vent to me about how your junior sailors don’t listen, how they do things that you told them not to and the headaches you get cleaning up after them…” My mother paused, then said, “You sound just like a parent, and it makes me laugh sometimes.”
- Be good to yourself. You only get one body and, with technology being what it is right now, each one of us has an expiration date. What we do to that body will either postpone that expiration date or bring it closer. One of the most important things I have learned from my mother is the value of unplugging when feasible and giving yourself some space. Learning when you can and should say “no” is also a worthy lesson.
My mother has taught me that no matter what shirt someone may wear to work, they are ultimately still human with all of the flaws attached. She has shown me that with patience and skill you can make cake or pastry look like almost anything – be it an anatomically correct “Studly Do-Right” sugar cookie, or a floor-by-floor mockup of our local hospital. I have been mistaken for her on the phone and told that I have her smile.
No matter how many times she has made me roll my eyes, though, I now know that one of the best compliments I can get is that I am like her.