Where do I begin? When someone tells me I'm like my mom, it makes me very proud.
One of the best lessons I learned from Mom is that if you're not willing to be part of the solution, you can't complain about the problem. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've heard her say, "What are you going to do about it?" It's something I try to ask myself every day. If something isn't going right or I'm getting caught up in complaining about a situation, there usually comes a point where I stop and think about what I can do.
The real reason I learned this is not because my mom said those words to me. It's because that's how she lives her life. I think she's a lifetime member of the Rice PTO. She served on the city council when I was a teenager. I can't ever remember her saying that a bad situation was someone else's fault - even if it really was. She just jumps in to any problem and does her best to make things better.
When I was a kid, Mom worked from ten at night to six in the morning. She'd get home in time to get us off to school, sleep while we were at school, and be up and ready to take care of us when we got home. I still have no idea how she did it.
Perhaps my favorite memory of her is from when I was a teenager. When I got home from school, she'd be in the kitchen doing whatever people do in the kitchen, and I'd sit at the table and go over everything about my day. I'm sure most of it was terribly teenage-girlish, and she listened to every word. She made me feel like she cared about the silly things that were freaking me out. That's what I want for my kids. I want them to each have their time with my undivided attention to tell me all the important and unimportant details of their lives. I want them to feel as valued as I did.
Sidebar - When Trey and I look at our own kids and wonder how we were as small children, we often joke that Mom blocked out most of my childhood years. My half brother came to live with Mom and Dad sometime close to when I was born, so she got a two year old and a newborn at the same time. Honestly, I probably would have blocked that out, too. Anyway, knowing now how Trey remembers every detail of every moment and I remember nothing, I think it must be hereditary.
Back on topic. I have the unique gift of raising my children at the same time that Mom raises her second family. When the situation with my brother's family went from bad to worse, yet again my parents stepped up, and now they're raising my niece and nephew. So she has an eight year old and a six year old, and I have a six year old and an almost four year old. She's always my mom, but she's my friend now, too. We deal with some of the same things with our kids, and we talk on the phone every day.
Several years ago, Mom retired from her job at the telephone company. She was ready to retire, and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis finalized her decision. But even though she has some rough days because of her illness, she's barely slowed down. She's an election official in town, she volunteers with Meals on Wheels at least once a week, she practically lives at the church, and that lifetime PTO membership is still in full force.
I hope that as I continue to get older, I can always be like my mom. I hope I can always be part of the solutions in the world, and I hope I will always be willing to jump in and do my part where I'm needed.
That's what I learned from my mom.