As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, I’ve thought about my mom and the type of mother I hope to be! I truly feel like I hit the parental jackpot! This post could list hundreds of ways my mom has impacted my life, but today I have narrowed it down to 5….5 things my sweet, selfless mama has taught me, and a few stories of her amazingness! Sweet handwriting above courtesy of my four year old Logan.
Show kindness to everyone
We like to joke that my mom is a magnet for those in need…my dad may have even used the word “sucker” a few times in jest. But the truth is, she has a truly giving spirit. I can remember spending lots of time growing up delivering food to people, volunteering at school and church, and doing random favors for others. There was a woman struggling in our neighborhood that my mom would drive around town and “loan” things to all the time. She would knock on our door often in need of something, and every time my mom would help her. It got excessive, and I honestly began to get angry and felt like this woman was taking advantage of my mom’s time and generosity. I remember my mom telling me it is our job to show kindness to others in whatever way we can, not to judge if they “deserve” it. That stuck with me, and while I am not near the saint my mother is, I try to show kindness with a cheerful heart.
Get up, dress up, show up
My mom insisted that we get up at a decent hour (even in the summer…..insert eye roll from teenage Bethany!), look presentable and show up. Missing school or church was not an option. If we had committed to a team, practice, party, etc. we were going to be there unless we were on our death bed.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time about 7 years ago. She was treated with chemo therapy and knew that she would probably lose her hair at some point. We had gone to get hats, scarves and fun accessories in preparation, but when the day came that she woke up with big chunks of hair on her pillow, it was still very difficult. She took one day off work and went to have all her hair buzzed off…no need to delay the inevitable. She woke up the next day, put on her cute hat and headed to work at the elementary school. As you know, children are curious about everything and when someone at school suddenly shows up bald, they’re going to ask questions! So the school had made it hat day! As mom walked in for the first time with her freshly shaved head and hat, a little shaken I’m sure, every child and teacher in the building was also wearing a hat. I wish I’d been there to see it. Kindness comes back around, and good things happen when you get up, dress up and show up!
Sweet dance team mamas handmade these sequin hat bands and my scarf in honor of my mom! The girls wore them throughout football season as a show of support for her!
Make your people feel special
My love for planning parties and events comes from my mom. She always made events special growing up. From driving all over town to find just the right rainbow cookies for my Rainbow Bright party to making matching t-shirt dresses for my bestie and I to wear to church camp, the details were always important. My mom went back to work when I was ten. She had three children, a full-time job, and a jam packed calendar of events, but she always took time to know our likes and dislikes, celebrate our victories and console us when we were down. I probably did not say thank you nearly enough, but all those little details always made me feel loved, seen and heard.
Even as adults, she hosts everyone for birthday dinners. On my birthday I get to choose the menu and she makes my favorite 3 layer Italian cream cake every single year. She always has special treats and activities for my boys and they love going to visit. Love is in the details and my mom has mastered showing love to her people.
Invest in things that matter
I am thankful that the focus in my house was never on “stuff” but more on experiences. If you don’t have the money for it, don’t buy it. I think I took for granted that not everyone was raised this way. I never felt like I went without, but there were times where I had to pick and choose. My parents were not going to go into debt to let me chase every passing fad or fleeting interest. There was give and take. In middle school I wanted to take voice lessons in addition to dance. My parents agreed to pay for them, if I would cook dinner once a week. I had to figure out what I wanted to make…..before the internet, which meant looking through cookbooks and my mom’s recipes, give them a grocery list and prepare the meal. I became more confident in the kitchen, only started one fire, and learned that singing was NOT my strength! My voice teacher gave me songs where I could show “personality” Translation: You can’t sing, but I’ll take your money! Haha! BUT I appreciated those lessons much more having “worked” for them!
My mom was the first person in her family to graduate from college, and it was very important to her that we all go. My parents gave us a set amount each semester. We could attend any school and live wherever we wanted, but that amount was all they would cover in terms of tuition, books, living expenses, food and our social life. Anything needed above that we would either have to work for or take out in student loans. I really appreciate now that they did that because it taught me to budget. I had one credit card in case of emergencies, which I never used, and I made smarter decisions knowing I would be the one paying any loans back…and on a teacher’s salary! So many of my friends left school with huge student loan debts and credit card balances, and while I ALWAYS think education is worth the investment, I was thankful my parents had made me think through my choices on my own.
Bad things happen, you keep going
My family is far from perfect. We have had our share of disappointments and heartbreaks, but my mom’s strength is the glue that holds us together. My mom went through chemo and beat breast cancer. Prior to that my Papa passed away and left her almost the exact amount she would need to go back to school to get her master’s degree to be a principal. She knew using the money in this way would honor him, so she went back to school, got her masters, worked several years as a vice-principal and was FINALLY made a head principal. We were SO excited for her! No one could have worked harder!
Mom’s first day as a principal!
As she prepped for her first year as principal at her new school, she was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. It just seemed so unfair. She does everything right, why her? Why again? But she did not let this diagnosis get her down. She would schedule all her treatments on Fridays so she would only miss half a day of work, rest and recover all weekend and be back at school on Monday. She went through it all….treatment, losing her hair again, dr visits…..while managing a new school of students, teachers and parents. She only missed a few days and guess what? Today she is cancer free and still rocking her job as a principal! I know it was hard, and there were days that she was in extreme pain, but she pushed through with a smile on her face and a cute hat on her head!
My mama is a role model to me in more ways than I can count and a constant source of help, love and support! I was also blessed with an AMAZING mother-in-law. She raised three kids, worked as a nurse, is a pro in the kitchen, makes me laugh and has taught me so much! Motherhood can be tough, but between these two, I pretty much have the BEST examples!
I hope as we head into this weekend you will take time to tell all those special mamas in your life just how much they are loved! I love you Mom!