I love words! The powerful expression of words, if said or written in just the right tone, can have never ending lasting effects on people’s minds that can carry them for a life time. I used my love for words in an effort to make a powerful impact on my son when he was graduating from high school eight years ago.
One of life’s most defining rites of passage occurs when our all grown up kids become graduating seniors, as well as, for their parents. It is a natural progression that means that they could quite possibly become viable members of society subsisting self-sufficiently.
I was beginning to feel a sense of panic. I wasn’t quite sure whether or not I was finished raising him. I needed more time. Unanswered questions raced through my mind. Had I read enough books to him? Had I read too many? Had I imparted enough wisdom? Or none at all? Had I taught him enough skills to manage alone? Had I taught him any at all? Would he be able to cook, do his laundry, get up in the morning, get to destinations on time, etc.? Logically, I thought that he could, but I couldn’t be certain. Had I left any loose ends I needed to address?
So, I decided to act fast just to be sure I had covered all the mothering bases. I created a photo album called from Peek-A-Boo to Whoop-De-Doo as his graduation present. It covered all the memories of his firsts, major events and milestones from his life. It was all a deceiving camouflage for what lay inconspicuously glued to the back cover. It was an envelope called Life Lessons from Mom. It was a collaboration of lessons I’ve learned on my own journey down the path of life. In essence, I was trying to pack in eighteen years worth of parenting in one envelope. Here it is:
“Life Lessons From Mom.”
Lesson #1–Be nice to people.
Lesson #2–Laugh often. Keeping a continual sense of humor has healing powers..
Lesson #3′”Read Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking and keep it on your bedside table for reference.
Lesson #4– Never miss the funeral of friends who have lost loved ones.
Lesson #5–Keep your “feelers” open for other people’s needs at all times.
Lesson #6–Surround yourself with positive people who cheer you on and believe in you. Better yet, be this type of person for your friends.
Lesson #7–Always give good, strong handshakes. It shows confidence and interest in the person.
Lesson #8–Be interested in what others have to say. Listen.
Lesson #9–Never miss a Christmas Eve service.
Lesson #10– Embrace adversity. Accept the reality of it. Don’t be embittered by it. Learn from it.
Lesson #11–Compartmentalize your day. Break your day down into manageable segments for productiveness.
Lesson #12–Smile a lot and soon your heart will follow suit.
Lesson #13–Ask your children if they want to play a game rather than having to be asked.
Lesson #14– Never criticize or judge others. You never know what they are dealing with in their personal lives.
Lesson #15–Respect your children. Be loyal to them. Never disclose anything to others about them you know they wouldn’t appreciate. They need to be able to trust you.
Lesson #16– Encourage individuality in your children. Allow them to be “who they are” instead of requiring them to be the people you think they should be. It is the only way they can develop their own sense of self that is uniquely theirs.
Lesson #17– Believe in everyone until they give you a reason you shouldn’t.
Lesson #18– Don’t be boastful. It’s unattractive and only proves that you’re insecure. Work towards building your self-confidence and keep your pride to yourself.
Lesson #19– Live life simply and unpretentiously.
Rule #20– Don’t live in clutter. Keep your house clean (but not compulsively so) and in good running order.
Lesson # 21– Always write thank you notes.
Lesson #22–Don’t let the insignificant things take up an ounce of your energy.
Lesson #23– Develop good adaptation skills and coping mechanisms.
Lesson #24–Pray every day. Stay connected to God.
These life lessons were tucked securely in the back of the photo album. Hmmm…. I wondered if he had even given them a second thought until…..I went on a business trip to Raleigh. My son was a student at NC State and lived in an apartment, so I arranged to stay with him. When I arrived, I expected to see a chaotic mess that only a mother’s touch could improve. Much to my surprise, it was neat and clean. (Lesson #19) He had stocked the refrigerator with my favorite drinks, prepared a hot lunch and had bought breakfast. (Lesson #5) When I returned after working the next day, he had made up my bed and had picked up my mess I had left carelessly strewn all around. (Lesson #20)
My conclusion: Maybe I didn’t do such a bad job after all. I think he’s going to be just fine and I am the one who could use more lessons. The next morning, he was the one I called to lean on when I was pulled for running a red light in downtown Raleigh. He said, “Mama, you have to be more careful.” In a complete role reversal, I heard myself saying, “But I didn’t mean to — but — but, okay, I’ll be more careful”. That’s funny– those were the exact words the police officer said to me when he let me go “free.” His mother must have taught him to be nice to people, too. (Lesson #1)
So go ahead and add Lesson #25–Keep your Mama in line.
Let me cram one final all-encompassing message, as well. Lesson #26″Understand that life is “change.” Nothing ever stays the same. But that’s okay. Be content in the fact that you know you’ve done your very best in raising your children and they’re being launched off for their own hopes and dreams. Accept it and move forward happily. New beginnings are all part of the natural progression of life —