As I sat in a meeting at work today discussing a child who was not getting the help they needed due to a variety of environmental factors, I found myself reflecting on the lessons I carry with me in life. My mother is responsible for 50 percent of who I am (genetically speaking) but I wonder how much of who I am as a person has come from how I was raised, and by who I was raised. I could think of a million lessons that I carry with me that came from my mother, but I find this one to be the most valuable..................
When someone you love is living their life in a way that you don't agree with , all you can do is love them anyway and be there for them. Judging will only push them away from you.
I could go on for days about the many ways my mother demonstrated this to me, but I will stick to just a few. At one point in my life I was in bad relationship. The short version is that the guy totally sucked and I shouldn't have been with him. My mother never once said anything bad about him and never told me that I shouldn't be with him. She knew that if she did, it might hurt me or even worse push me away from her. In my own time I realized my mistake and since my mother had never judged me, I was able to go to her for help getting out of the relationship. She was there to listen and never judged.
She does this in a lot of small ways too. Like when I talk to her about how many children I want to have, or how I discipline my kids, etc. She always listens and if she says anything at all it is usually that she points out the positive side to either scenario. She might tell me all the good reasons there might be to have just two kids (which we have now) but she will also mention the reasons three might be nice as well. This makes me feel like I can share my thoughts with her. She isn't going to ask, "Can you afford 3 kids?" or "Don't think anyone will babysit for you if you keep having babies." She listens, she talks to me, and if she is making any judgments at the moment, she keeps them to herself.
Why is this lesson so valuable to me?
Well, it's because in my heart of hearts I think everyone should show this level of love and respect for the people they love.
For example, I frequent a lot of health/ fitness message boards. People often post questions like, "my father is so unhealthy and very over weight, I am afraid for his life. How do I encourage him to get healthy?"
My answer to this question is that you cannot ask someone to change. If you tell your father that they are over weight and need to go on a diet/ exercise, not only will they not change, but they will resent you for judging them. The only way someone will change is if THEY want to. You cannot make anyone else change PERIOD.
The way you help is by being a good role model. Eat healthy and exercise and perhaps some day you will be an inspiration to you father (or whoever). And don't judge. Love them when they are at their best, and worst.
When I was in a bad relationship my mother talked about my step father and why he is a good man (indirectly of course). The fact that she was married to a good man, and in a solid relationship was inspirational to me and though I didn't know it at the time, that is part of how I knew what I didn't want in my own life.
If you truly love someone you should not remind them of their faults. I cannot tell you how many times I hear people in my professional and private life say things like "and I told my son, if he doesn't break up with his trashy girlfriend, his life is going down the drain." Or, "I told my sister if she didn't start exercising she was going to turn into a tub of lard."
I'd like to know how many times comments like that have encouraged someone to change their lives. I would expect not very many. I'd imagine the people on the receiving end of such comments harbor a great deal of resentment.
So thank you Mom, for this important life lesson. I live and breath this in all I do. It makes me a better teacher, mother, and family member. I am so glad that you have always loved me for who I am, and not for who you want me to be. LESSON LEARNED.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from your mama?