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Ice Breaker

[Photo: Mother + Child by Sarae]

To get the ball rolling, I thought I would start with a trivial question to break the ice and get this thing started. So, here goes:

What was the most important thing that your mother taught you?

As is probably true for everyone, it is hard to decide what one thing is most important, but the one drop of wisdom I often use is that "it's not what you say, but how you say it." This lesson has definitely carried me through many sticky situations!

How about you?

I'd actually have to say that the most important thing my mom taught me was less a teaching than an allowance. What I mean is, she allowed me to explore, to try on different veins of thought, different religious ideals, experiment with different philosophies, even those that violated her belief system. That allowance both gave me the ability to find things in life that I never would have otherwise, instilled in me a curiosity and explorative personality, and taught me the tolerance that now permeates my approach to life.

Thank you, Mom!

My mom taught me a lot of things. Both good and bad. Things I want to remember and things I'd rather not know. Probably the best thing she ever did for me was to teach me to read. She read to me from the time I was an infant and as a result, I learned to read at a very early age (3yrs. old). She also always strived to give me the best education possible. This meant getting up at 5am every morning to drive me to pre-school and later a gifted program at a kindergarten across town. Because of this, I learned Latin & Greek mythology from kindergarten through 6th grade (when we moved to the suburbs) and took Japanese duirng the summer programs. I swear that to this day, I still remember much of my Latin vocabulary and the backgroud knowledge of Latin & Greek cultures helped me tremendously during college.

Then there's the bad stuff. Like "No one will ever love you as much as your mother." While it may be true that there is nothing like the love a mother, I find it sad to think that no other person could love me as much. Or "I feel sorry for people who go to therapists because they must not have any family who love them. If you have family, you wouldn't need to pay someone to be your friend." As someone who has seen therapists regularly since college, this one cuts to the bone whenever she metnions it.She knows that I see a therapist and she constsntly tells me that she thinks it's a waste of money.
Then there's the guilt trips....."Why don't you want to come visit me? You must not love me. I am the only mother I know who's daughter hates her. I must be a horrible person that no one loves me." You get the idea.........

The most important thing that my mom taught me was to be fair. Fair in how you love, fair in how you treat people, fair in how you work. While difficult, most of the time it serves me and helps me sleep at night. I have ran accross people that are just crazy as all get out or very mean and spiteful. I have found that when you treat them fairly and without predujice you will sleep better and whatever the outcome you can walk away from the situation knowing that you did your best because you were fair.

This is especially true in matters of the heart because it is so easy to get so wrapped up in the situation, be it good or bad. You know things that would really hurt that person and you know exactly how to implement it as well. DONT', be fair about the situation, if they person wants out give them out...if they want you to leave...leave. Trust me being fair helps you sleep at night and it can help you walk away from a situation without feeling that the lesson was lost even if the love was.

In work, it is a no brainer, be fair to fellow co-workers, leave the gossip at home and do the best that you can. Do not try to get back at someone, or hold a grudge as it is not worth it. SO, all in all, be fair and you will be prospersous in everything that you do.

When I first read this, I had some early pat answers about talking, reading, math (all stuff she'd experiment with teaching me when I was like 2).. etc. But it's obviously a bigger question than that. I think the best single-sentence advice(?) I heard constantly growing up, was "When you play, you pay."

I'd stay out with my friends late, watch tv, or play games and such - and never have time to finish homework that was due. Or even the play itself.. we'd be out, further than I was allowed to be, and when I'd come back home, I'd get in trouble, having boundries reduced drastically sometimes depending on where we were at. I was out camping for a weekend in the dells once, and two days in a row spent the better part of the hottest times of the day outside, shirtless with no sunscreen or anything on... first day was sunburnt, and the second I burned the burnt bits. When I came home, she did what she could to take care of me, but it was always the same sentence; when you play, you pay.

When I was out of high school and into college, we'd talk a lot more about her (and my) past relationship with my dad, and the impacts decisions he'd make would have on the two of them (and me, in some cases).. always a blend of dreadful importance that they rush into whatever new deal he thought he was getting on some car, or dreadful untruths told to cover poor choices with other women, and that sort of thing.. great detail over what the consequences were to short-term excitements.. when he played, they paid..

It was always just a running commentary about being responsible for our own actions, and understanding that the consequences -would- come in some form or another when you choose to "play now" instead of upholding your responsibilities. It wasn't to say I couldn't do what I wanted... I was free to make choices on my own, regardless of the topic.. but I had to be aware that with those choices came their natural results, that she certainly wasn't going to undo for me.

So. For me, it's responsibility. It's knowing that I can't pin the blame of my own choices onto other people, and to not accept responsibility for others' choices either. I saw a poster or something the other day that said "Failure to plan on your part, doesn't constitute an emergency on mine." I laughed, and thought about that that same running sentence..

Wow! I did not expect to get so many responses to start off! I want to thank everyone who decided to visit this site based on my email, and also send out an additional thank you to those who posted! You all seemed to put so much thought into your answers, I felt like I skimped a bit on mine! So, I wanted to add a few additional things.

We all obviously have our own biases, prejudices, fears and areas in which we lack confidence. Some of these we are consciously aware of their origins, others we are not. Some we probably learned simply by observing the actions and behaviors of our parents. As an adult, I am well aware of many of my own hang-ups. I have also become aware of some of mom's via the types of interactions you have with your parents as an adult. I have found that there are not many areas in which our "issues" overlap. I view this as a huge credit to my mom in that she was able to remain an objective parent during my childhood, careful not to pass on/force her biases to/on me.

I don't believe that this type of emotional and mental control comes easily, and I think the world probably would be a much happier and peaceful place if more parents could send their children out into the world unbiased and free to form their own opinions based on their own experiences and not their parents'!

Well if that is your idea of trivial I would be wary of you in a serious vein! :)

Actually you have got me thinking. Mmmmm.....

Yes, Rob, I think you are right that 'trivial' is a misnomer. I guess I was thinking in relative terms since it was my first official post, and my vision is to address more indepth topics and questions sucha s the post on Speciesism!

Do report back to us after you are done contemplating the question! :)

Because of tonsilitis I missed a lot of schooling around the age of six. My mother, who was a teacher, taught me how to read.
Who knows I might have ended up illiterate if she hadn't!

Rob, thank goodness she did! What would we do without Mmmm...?! :)

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