Mother's Day. That time of year when we remember our moms. Their love, their teaching, and their thoughts. For most of us, our moms will always have a rent-free space in the back of our heads, reminding us of all the things we learned from them over the years!
As a mother herself, Ellen White wrote, "The mother is queen of her household. She has in her power the molding of her children's characters, that they may be fitted for the higher, immortal life. An angel could not ask for a higher mission; for in doing this work she is doing service for God. The children are to be taught to regard their mother, not as a slave whose work it is to wait on them, but as a queen who is to guide and direct them, teaching them line upon line, precept upon precept."
So what are some of those guidance lessons and precepts? I think I can best answer you by listing five of the most important lessons my mom taught me over the years, and what I've learned from them since.
Quote 1: David, I can't teach you everything. But I can teach you where to find it.
Lesson: I grew up in a household where we read, and were read to, on a regular basis. We learned a lot that way, but more importantly, we found out that "learning" is a good thing. That adding knowledge to your brain was not just something you did in school, but that was actually "fun" even if you WEREN'T in school.
Mom was an English and History teacher, and knew all sorts of other things as well. But she was wise enough to understand that she didn't know everything, and was never going to. And also that sooner or later, there would be things my sister and I would want to learn that she couldn't explain to us. So she made a strong effort to teach us the skills of research. How to look things up in the dictionary or encyclopedia (yes, we had no Google back then). And how to look it up in more than one place so that you could find different viewpoints; a fact that taught me that it’s ok to have differing opinions on things. As a result of her efforts, I have loved researching and learning things my entire life.
Quote 2: You come from a teacher's house. You have more to live up to.
Lesson: Where you come from affects who you are, and what you do with the privilege. We all come from different families, different backgrounds, different environments. But no matter where or how you grew up, those experiences have given you advantages that other people may not have.
Now you may not have thought of them as advantages back then, or even now. I know I told my mom more than once, "It's not fair you expect me to do better - I didn't choose to be born into a teacher’s family!" But it was what it was, and those experiences will always be a part of my life. So look for the parent-perks that are part of your life because of Mom. They are familiar to you, so use them to your advantage! (and you'll make Mom proud besides)
Quote 3: I'll pay you a dime to pick those elderberries...
Lesson: Across the road from our house was a large open field full of weeds, narrow creeks, and bushes. Occasionally we'd venture over to explore, but our yard with the nice lawn was much more inviting and with far fewer bugs in residence. One day, however, Mom decided that she wanted to make some elderberry jelly. Her mom had made it when she was a kid, and it was now time for her to give it a try.
Because she was busy with other work, she called son David into the house and offered me a dime to go pick her a basketful. Now I was no dummy, and I knew how many clusters of elderberries it would take to fill the basket, not to mention how much of my afternoon it would take to do it. So not realizing that this had been a rhetorical offer, I shrugged and declined the opportunity, saying it didn't seem to me like that was enough money to pick THAT many berries. At that point, Mom drew herself up to her full Five Foot Zero height and said, "Then I will TELL you to do it, and you can pick 'em for nothing!" Needless to say, I quickly reconsidered and accepted her offer of the dime.
As I spent the next hour or so over in the weedpatch hacking at the elderberries, I pondered on the lesson I had learned. Our moms love us like nobody's business. But they also MEAN business and as mentioned above, they are expected to "guide and direct" our path in the proper way. So while there may be a rose in the fisted glove...it’s wise not to forget that the glove is still there!
Quote 4: We were given you kids. But I married your dad.
Lesson: This was a statement my sister and I heard more than once growing up. Mom loved Dad more than anything in the world, and he was Priority One. I know he felt the same about her as well; their mutual admiration society is why their marriage lasted happily for 65 years. Biz and I knew we were loved by our folks, no question, and that they would do anything for us that they could. But we ALSO knew where Mom's heart really lay, and that was with my dad! As the kids, we knew where we stood in the family pecking order, and while it was pretty high, it wasn't at the top. That was reserved for Mom and Dad. And it gave us a secure feeling knowing that they were there for each other when it mattered.
Quote 5: You're a pretty good kid.
Lesson: It's a simple statement. Not elaborate. But hey, it's a badge worth pinning on your shirt. As Mom got older, I heard this on a regular basis whenever I'd stop by for a visit. I'd just chuckle and say, "Mom, you have to say that. You're my mother!" She would look at me with her motherly wisdom and reply, "I wouldn't say it if it wasn't true." Now that Mom has passed on, I must admit that I miss hearing those short five words. Because there isn't a one of us that doesn't like to hear that someone thinks we are doing well. That we make a difference. And that the world is a better place with us in it.
As a result, I have learned to tell more people that what they did was great. That I appreciate their service. That they made my life easier by what they did. I have lost count of the surprised looks from the supermarket checker or the bank teller when they hear "Good job!" instead of "Hurry up!" So take the time to tell your kids that you appreciate them. Tell your spouse and the neighbor and the person sitting next to you in church that they make a difference. Trust me, they'll love it. And you can tell them, "I learned it...from Dave's mother."
Happy Mother's Day! - Dave Fairchild