|My mom and me at the lake....perhaps my favorite picture of her.|
1. Don't leave the house without mascara on....The older I get, the more I follow this rule. In fact, one day I didn't wear any to run to the grocery store and saw someone I know, only to have them proceed to tell me how tired and awful I looked. But it isn't just about looking good....its more about confidence. Do you feel confident going to the mall in your sweats and no makeup? If so, you're a better person than I.
2. Always wear your nicest outfit on the airplane. I never understood this before. Others would be wearing basketball shorts and flipflops on the plane and we'd be dressed in our nicest vacationing outfit. I guess it sort of makes sense. I mean, what if you are upgraded and are seated next to Mark Wahlberg. Nobody wants Marky Mark to see them in shapeless soccer shorts (and no mascara). Or what if you're getting off the plane behind Nicole Kidman and end up as the background in some Tabloid magazine? These are the most reasonable things I can come up with to this day....yet I still follow the rule.
3. Suck it up and go to school. It doesn't matter if you were embarrassed to the highest degree yesterday or if your heart got broken two hours ago. You're friends all turned on you yesterday with some backstabbing note they passed around? You will go to school and you will look like you're having the time of your life. Looking back, and as a mother now, I wonder how my mom had the strength to ship me off to school when I clearly was in agony. It would have been so much less heartbreaking and easier to let me stay home. But, then would I ever really bounce back? Would I be as strong as I am today? I have a dear friend from those days that just told me recently that she wishes her mother would have done the same for her.
4. It's just "stuff." When my parents moved to Brazil I went home for one last weekend. I pulled into the driveway to see my mom selling what seemed like everything they owned in a garage sale. I was in shock. I went through everything saying "Are you sure you want to get rid of this?" over and over again. I couldn't believe she was selling vases from her wedding and plates I had eaten off of growing up. That, on top of the fact that she was walking away from the house my dad and her built right before I was born. It was more than my 20-something heart could take. She just kept telling me "It's just stuff."
5. Dress for the job your want. It took me 1.5 years to get a teaching job after college. I worked at a daycare in the meantime. I was fed up with my situation and afraid of never getting the job I wanted. One day my mom saw what I wore to work. It wasn't nice, or professional...it basically looked like how I felt about my job. That was the end of that.
6. Smile with your eyes. The secret to perfect pictures....a rule I'm still trying to figure out. I found myself saying it to a student just the other day. She looked at me the same way I'm guessing I looked at my mom when I was that age and she was shouting that at me from behind the camera.
7. Eat the chili. One time when we were little we went to my aunt and uncle's house for Sunday lunch. My aunt had made chili in the crock pot and had somehow burnt it. I remember we could smell it as soon as we walked in. As we were waiting to eat my mom swept us three older kids into one of the back bedrooms and told us up front. 1. The chili is burnt. 2. You are going to take a little bit. 3. You are going to eat it. 4. You will not complain. There are a lot of things in life that could be classified as "burnt chili" and I think that this tiny little moment was such an important one in my development as a little person.
8. Invite everyone. I had a Halloween party in 8th grade. It was my first boy/girl party. My mom told me if I did it that I had to invite everyone. I thought that was incredibly awesome.....except that she really meant EVERYONE. Not a single eighth grader and seventh grader (my brother was only a year behind me) from our middle school was invitationless. I even invited what classified as the "mean girls" and "losers" and "derelicts". And you know what? It ended up being awesome.
9. You are never too good for anyone else. I was not allowed to think this even for a minute. And I think it is one of the most valuable things my mother taught me.
10. Find the thing you love to do more than anything in the world.....and turn it into a career. When I told my mom I wanted to be an Art Major she never asked what I can do for a living. When I switched to Photojournalism she never reminded me that I would be working nights and weekends my whole life. When I switched to art education I could hear an audible sigh of relief on the other end.....like she knew that was what I was made for....she just wanted me to be sure.
So for my mother....Happy Mother's Day. I am reminded today of my friends who have lost their mothers too soon. I just want to remind you that I have a lot more to learn from you...so please stick around. You are my lifeline.
I love you.