Mother's Day (and my approaching decrepitude) have me thinking about what advice I would give to my children, or to anyone who would want to read my incoherent ramblings.
I figure Mother's Day is the one day I could be be forgiven for being inappropriately nosy.
Anyway, this advice is written primarily for the adult children in our family - the five girls and one boy who have my heart. In no particular order:
- Don’t settle for second best in your life’s work. Reach for your goals; you can achieve them if you work hard and have a bit of luck. If your goals don’t match what others think you should be doing, forget them. You don’t need that negativity in your life. Don’t sell yourself short: You deserve to get what you work for. Don’t settle for the junk that provides the instant gratification. Wait, save, and get what you really want.
- Don’t settle in important relationships. Don’t let someone else hide your light, or take it from you. Share it if you want, but you both should be adding to the brightness. You deserve to shine. Sometimes it may be better to live alone than to let your partner make your life less joyous.
- Always carry some cash with you. There are still places that won’t accept your credit/debit card. And sometimes, you just have a hankerin' for a Slurpee.
- Pay yourself first. Save money every payday. Even if it’s just a few dollars a week – every woman should have an escape fund. If you don’t need to escape, it’s good to have the money when unexpected bills pop up (and they will).
- You are loved. You are enough. Don’t pay any attention to those who say otherwise. Mothers know these things. J
- Be kind if possible. An unreturned kindness is never wasted. Maybe there will come a day when the recipient has appreciation for what you’ve done. If not, then you know that you did a good deed…that knowledge is enough.
- An unmet want will never kill you, but an unmet need could. Be sure to get what you need, and be patient about what you want if it isn’t within your reach yet.
- Sometimes you win an argument by staying silent. But if you see a person being unkind to another, don’t remain silent. Call them out on their bad behavior.
- I figure my own life (and its many mistakes) is more of an example of what NOT to do, other than a roadmap to a happy life. My feelings will not be hurt if you choose a different path than I have. In fact, I'd probably encourage it!
- Many disagreements arise from tone of voice and the method of message delivery – not the message itself. Think about how you phrase your words to not put the other person immediately on the defensive.
- Do not put much stock in what the “experts” say is beautiful. You are already beautiful – choose health and comfort over fashion that causes pain.
- Trust your gut: If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. But if you have doubts, talk it over with someone you trust (maybe even your mother). I am available only for solicited opinions and advice – I’m not the meddling mother-in-law type.
- Look for opportunities to be silly and playful – never lose your childlike wonder in the world. It’s pretty amazing here.
- As you age, you will find that gravity always wins. Embrace it – it is part of life. Don’t feel like you have to physically alter your body to feel young. A youthful attitude will serve you much longer than Botox will.
- Age, but don't get old and cranky. You don't want to be the neighbor all the neighborhood kids are scared of.
- Worry steals today’s joy, and doesn’t prevent (or solve) tomorrow’s troubles. I still struggle with this; sometimes it helps to set a timer and worry the hell out of stuff until the buzzer goes off. Then get on with your day – most things we worry about are not in our control anyway.
- Take care of your health while you’re still healthy. Do as I say, not as I do.
- Things usually work out as they should – but it may not be on your time schedule. Have some faith.
- Bring joy into someone else’s life whenever possible – the best way to feel better about your own situation is to help someone who needs your assistance. Be useful. Be someone’s champion.
- Learn to cook. Appreciate the bountiful food that’s available. Experiment in the kitchen, try new dishes, use spices that you normally wouldn’t use. If you’re using a recipe, you’ll soon learn when it’s okay to do some substitution. Bake a cake from scratch, and make real buttercream frosting. Pile it on thick, and for once, don’t worry about the calories in that little slice of heaven.
- Travel if you can. Learn about other cultures, other customs. Be a citizen of the world – even if you never leave your own city.Read for pleasure. Read for knowledge. Read books of all genres, even poetry. Read to your children (oops, unsolicited parenting advice creeping in).
- Sing along with the radio in the car. Hum. Whistle. Dance in your chair when a catchy tune comes on. Feel the joy in the creativity of others, and occasionally lose yourself in your own creativity.
- Preserve your family history. Talk to the oldest people in your family about their lives. Find out about life before computers, before color TV. Write down important facts and observations from your own life…for one day, you will be the old person. There are days when I can’t remember a name or event from the past, and I wish I could still ask my parents about it. Identify people in photos (either on the back), or tag them in Facebook. Someday, you may find a picture in the back of a drawer and wonder who the hell that person is.
- Tell your children (or other family members) about your best memories from childhood. Talk about your day, ask them how their day went. Never forget to make those connections.
- Be yourself. You’re the only one who can do it. Be you. Be great. Remember, each day is another opportunity for excellence.
- Finally, some advice for Daniel. Be nice, especially to your mother. She’s your number one fan.