Moms do a lot for us. They teach us many life lessons and encourage us throughout our lives. Here are three things my mom taught me.
1. Try New Things
When you first meet my Mom the words adventurous and thrill seeker will not spring to mind. One of the things my Mom, Caroline Weise, taught me was to try new things.
Mom wasn’t good at sports, but she was a good sport. Growing up in northeastern Michigan, there were ample opportunities for winter sports. My Dad saw someone cross country skiing and he was hooked. My parents got skis within weeks of that first sighting and we, the entire family, were cross country skiers. So my Mom tried cross country skiing. Actually, she skied with Dad for nearly 30 years. She wasn't the fastest in our family, but she was never left behind. Why? She always carried the snacks!
When new boyfriends joined our family ski weekends, they would generally start at the front with Dad, but end up at the back of the line with Mom. When there was a hill we had to go down the guest would look at my mom for guidance. Mom would take one look down the hill, shake her head, then take off the skis and walk down. “I’m not breaking my neck on that hill. Besides, who would cook dinner tonight if I got hurt?” No one could argue with that logic.
She tried roller coasters, small roller coasters. She went hiking in the Swiss Alps, sampled Greek food, and touched a snake—once. Mom wanted my brother, sister, and me to try new things so she led by example. We’re not afraid to look silly when discovering something new.
2. Critters and Shenanigans
Mom understood that kids needed to be kids. There is a great big world out there, and sometimes the best way to learn was to get out there and get messy. She allowed a lot of critters and shenanigans.
Although the winters were long in northeastern Michigan, there were some years I’m sure she welcomed fall and the cooler weather. Then, the turtles and frogs would return to the ponds. The snakes would go back to the fields or woods. There was no more salamanders in the house or June bug races in the garage. She could be relatively confident she wouldn’t lose good Tupperware containers to caterpillar condos or tadpole pools. We had our share of critters.
Growing up, some of my homework assignments were hands-on. We could be creative while problem solving. One of these hands-on, problem solving assignments was to develop an escape route in case the house was on fire. I was grounded at the time so I decided maybe I should practice the escape route out the window. After successfully climbing out the window and dropping six feet to the ground below, I went to the neighbor’s house, the “staging area”. There happened to be a kickball game in progress so I stayed.
Mom found me and listened as I explained how successful my homework assignment had been. I would probably get an A because I practiced the entire plan including going to the neighbor’s house. And I made sure I reminded her that she TOLD me to do my homework. It was practically her idea. She then reminded me that if Dad found out all the details of this homework assignment, he might be a little more ‘hands on.’ Shenanigans!
3. Be Nice
Mom was nice to everyone, but she seemed to be drawn to seniors. She cleaned homes for several seniors over the years and although that was helpful, they often needed more. Mom would take them to doctors appointments or to the pharmacy during the day when their families were at work.
She listened to their stories. There were stories about their children and their grandchildren. My favorite was watching them tell Mom tales from their own youth. Their faces would light up and their eyes would sparkle just from remembering these adventures from their past. And having someone listen, one more time, was so special. Our culture celebrates youth, so our seniors become invisible. Mom taught me to be nice to everyone; they might not be with us forever.
Today is Mother’s Day. Whether we hold her hand or hold onto her memory we treasure all she taught us.