I know my Mom had it rough when raising me – of course she never mentioned it. Even when I was young I understood that my dad, who left us, would never come back, though our family believed otherwise. I am sure the uncertainty of “what’s next?” must have worried my Mom. After all, she was only 18 when she had me. Yet, she was strong and stepped up and made the sacrifices to ensure I had a good upbringing.
It really was the little things she did that makes her such an amazing person. She also taught me to smile through life’s situations after my initial reactions – point was – don’t dwell on the negative stuff. Instead, move on. And as I think back today, I realize that with important life lessons at each stage, I must have imbibed some parenting lessons too!
She Encouraged “Me” Time
As she was only a seventh grader when she got married at 13, she had to struggle to fast track her education so she could support us. We were back at my Grandmother’s place, luckily and she could go to school without worrying about keeping an eye on me all the time. Oh, granted I was an angel, but I was also very active. Too active perhaps! Yet, she wasn’t afraid to let me do my own thing. She understood that alone time helps spark creativity (and it certainly did!) because you have to use what’s around you and make the best of it. After all, I am a child of the 60’s! Because of this freedom, I found a love for art, crafts, nature, reading, and travel.
There’s a parenting lesson I learned here. Children must be encouraged to pursue hobbies that don’t involve you. In fact, it makes sense to challenge them to come up with new ideas and have a contest to see who can do it better. Let them start little projects of their own. Let them create secret hideouts. Let them invent games. Don’t get too worried about them scraping their knees.
Immortalized Us in Photography
Back in the early sixties, obviously we did not have a camera. In spite of being hard up for cash, Mom arranged to get professional photographs of us. Those photos are almost peeling off today – I really ought to scan them. This may not sound like much but I think it’s something special, because looking at old photos is one of my favorite ways to take a break. Beautifully preserved in a vintage album, it showed that even in the muck of things, we still found happiness.
Parenting lesson – family portraits are a great way to preserve memories. I take pictures all the time. When I am upset, all I have to do is look at those photos to bring back the smiles. It is easy. Set up a small budget, make a checklist of family portrait tips (Picture People has some great ones on their site) so you show up looking great, and even better, go with a professional. They’ll immortalize that slice of life. It’s one thing you can feel proud of many years from now when reflecting back on those memories.
Removed the Mythos of Money
One of the things I appreciate most about my Mom is – she never complained about finances with me – she instinctively knew that I might feel sad I couldn’t help in any way. While she kept a lot of the finances private, she made sure I understood the value of frugal living and smart choices when we were to spend money.
I remember how she would take me shopping with a list, give me some money and made me understand the difference between “wants” and “needs”. Today I am much better off, but I still don’t feel compelled to buy items just because I see them on the shelf. I take time to do my research, let my emotions die down, and analyze the value. Doing this has saved me a ton of money in the long run.
Parenting lesson learned here is the importance of taking the time to teach your kids about money. Even if they’re young, it’s important to understand finances because it’s something we all deal with later in life. If they can gain a good grasp on savings, smart buying decisions, and fairness – I believe they’ll grow up to be well-rounded individuals that won’t have to face financial troubles like so many others have.
I know I’ve barely touched the tip of what I’ve learned from my Mom. Just had to share this today!
What special lessons have you learned from your Mom / Dad / Guardian?