What my mother taught me
A special post from me on Mother’s Day. 5 things that I’ve learned from my Mom. This list will continue to grow because I’m learning from her every day.
1. You can always start over again.
Second chances will always come. Until the day you die, each new day is a second chance. Take it or not, it’s there.
2. You can’t forgive AND forget, and that’s for the better.
There are people in your life who will try to hurt you. As a human made of flesh and feelings they will almost always succeed. Healing is hard but forgiving will help. If nothing else, always forgive. To forgive someone is to show them how strong you can be. It’s a gift only you can give. Passing on your pain to others is a trap that will spiral out of control and hurt more people than intended. Forgiveness can seem like giving up or giving in but it will heal you and make you stronger.
Forgiving AND forgetting is a mistake. Once you forget something it is gone, out of your control. You can never look back in order not to repeat mistakes and those that wronged you will take advantage. To forgive is to acknowledge then accept, to forget is to accept then ignore. Something that is ignored will come back, only this time stronger. Pain and hurt are never gone for long so when it comes back, and trust me it will, be prepared with all you know already, exhale, acknowledge, accept, remember the past, forgive.
3. If you keep your cards close to your chest you’ll keep people guessing and always leave them surprised (in a good way).
This one’s a metaphor and at the same time, not. My mom’s side of the family plays this card game called 45’s. It’s slightly obscure in that it’s only played in what is known as the Merrimack Valley area of Massachusetts but if you’re from there and don’t know how to play, you’re pretty much an outcast.
The general gist of the game is for each hand everyone gets 5 cards and based on those cards you bet how many points you think you can win if you played with those cards. 15 is the lowest bet, then 20, then 25, then 30. The person who bets the most gets 3 extra cards and then has to play to try to make that many points. There are certain cards that guarantee you lots of points and it’s considered poor form if you low ball your bet with a good hand.
My mom is really good at 45’s. She’s very quiet and will pick up small points throughout the game but will occasionally squeak out “15” to bet. The joke in our family is that if Merri bets 15 it means she’s got an amazing hand. The joke’s on us really because while we’re all distracted by the few times she has an amazing hand we’re completely missing when she’s picking up 5 points here, 10 points there. Anyone can win with a great hand in 45’s but it’s those other points that add up. We underestimate her and she knows it. She’ll use that to her advantage to beat us all. And when she wins (and she does, often) we all are so surprised, she came out of nowhere! The victory is that much sweeter.
This lesson is not one I’ve gotten the hang of yet. Anyone who knows me will say I’m the exact opposite of this, my motto might as well be “hit first, hit hard, hit often,” or better yet “tell all the people all the things.” But the moral is not lost on me, I’m working on it.
4. There is an easier way to put the pillow case on than just shaking the fuck out of it.
My mother doesn’t remember teaching me how to do this (I was about 16 at the time) but I promise you, she did and I will show my kids and anyone at all who will watch me make my bed (a rare occasion I’ll admit). This video will show you the secret and is also hilarious.
Did this little trick change my life? I suppose not. But every time I put a pillow case on I think of my mom and that’s pretty neat.
5. An unconventional family equals the most unconditional love.
There is nothing normal about my family, both my father and mother’s sides. We’ve all been through shit, seen “rock bottom” more than once, and had to start over, forgive and love again. It is painful and sometimes lonely but when we come back our love is stronger than ever.
I’m not knocking “normal” families (if that even exists). I’m thinking white picket fence, 3 kids and a dog type of thing. I’m sure that’s all just swell but I wouldn’t trade what I have for any of that. To know the love between me and my mother has endured through what it has is incredible to me and it’s something that has helped me in other tough relationships with family and friends.
Nothing is ever so broken it can’t be fixed, people aren’t ever so far gone they can’t come back. And when they do, I’ll be there. I think that’s what love is.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you more than I could ever say or write.