Lessons From Mother

1983It was on this day 32 years ago that life took a sharp right turn. This was the last day before I became a Mother. My first due date would have given me the title in time for Mother’s Day the previous Sunday, but this child was not on time.

My son’s father drove me to the hospital in his old, black pick-up truck so as not to spoil the beautiful, leather seats of his 1978 Limited Edition Datsun 280Z. At 23 years old, nothing that crossed my mind on that drive to the hospital could have prepared me for the life that waited.

Perhaps no Mother is truly prepared. In the early years, it’s a victory to master diapers, baby-sitters, career and sleep. Then, slowly yet surely you begin to see this little creature’s personality, their view of the world, and you fall so deeply in love with this little soul… nothing is greater than this.

My own Mother was a high school beauty queen and a talented concert pianist. By her account, she set her sights on my Dad and they were married before he shipped off with the Navy. It was the summer before her last year of high school. Two years later, she became my Mother.

Mother is the kind of person that can carry on a conversation with anyone. One sentence seamlessly leads to another as she effortlessly carries the effort of dialogue. And, she’s cool as a cucumber under pressure – even if she falls apart after the fact, she’s reliable like none other during the crisis.

My two sisters look just like her. If I were a boy, they would say I am the smitten image of my Dad. Not long ago, I took my shoe off and said to my sister, “See, I have Mother’s big toe.” Raising her own foot in the air, she replied, “No, THIS is Mother’s big toe!” Fortunately, you don’t have to look like your Mother to know you are her child.

Mother taught me to play the piano while I was still quite young. We rarely sat for a formal piano lesson as she did with her other students, but she would listen to me practice and yell out from the kitchen, “That wasn’t right. Play it again.” There was never frustration in her voice, nor criticism. She was teaching me to keep trying until I got it right.

Before long, I had the privilege to play the piano in church while mother played the pipe organ on the other side of the sanctuary. Instinctively, I knew at what point in every song she might veer off into her own spectacular ad-lib and I would hold a quiet melody to allow her to shine. As my skills improved, she would reduce the volume and hold melody so that I could shine with my own ad-lib. These are such sweet memories.

It seems some of the greatest lessons a Mother could teach her child are found here.

Someone should give us the opportunity to shine, and I love my Mother for unselfishly allowing me to shine. It gave me confidence and pride in myself at an impressionable age. I didn’t always make her proud, but she loved me nonetheless. And, that’s when I can hear her saying, “That wasn’t right, try again.”