It’s our first Mother’s Day Sunday post. Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there!
I thought I would share the three biggest gifts that my own mom has given to me over the years. Three oldies but goodies that have influenced my life as a woman, as a daughter and as a mother as well.
#1 There is no job that is beneath you!
To make it in life, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty now and then. And roll up those sleeves, she sure did. When I was little, my parents split up and divorced. At the time, she had 4 kids under the age of 14 and no void of financial stress. My dad was spotty at best in paying child support. My mom worked a full-time job and then she worked another part-time job to feed us and keep the lights on. Sometimes she worked two part-time jobs when she could find them and the scheduling worked out. She wasn’t making a lot of money either. She never went to college, but she was a hard worker and took on mostly clerical/office jobs.
On top of all this, she proved time and time again that there was no job that she couldn’t tackle. I have many memories of her trying (sometimes not succeeding but that’s okay) with fixing anything that may have broken in our house. There is the obvious stuff like yard and home maintenance but no repair was past her. She tried to fix leaky pipes, broken cars, broken washing machines, leaking basements. Basically anything that may be done DIY, she’d try to fix herself before calling in a pricey professional. The hardware store knew her well. She wasn’t shy about asking for advice on what she needed to buy to fix a problem on her own.
I guess that is why I’m handier than many women are with basic tools. Tools are tools and you will not find me buying those pink hammers and screw drivers either!
Later on, when my mom semi-retired but found she needed more money to make ends meet before collecting Social Security, she took a job at a chicken processing plant. Suffice it to say – it’s a smelly, gross, and back-breaking job. You are on your feet all day. Touching chickens. Raw chickens. Let’s just leave it there because we begged her not to go into too many details about how chicken is processed, least we may never eat chicken again. But there are tons of people all over the country that are doing really shitty jobs to make food available for you to buy in the local grocery store! Hard working people, like my mom! These jobs are important to everyone. They may be dirty and tough. They are no less honorable than high paid professional jobs. They just pay less.
I never treat people differently based on their occupation. People are people. You may clean bathrooms or lead boardrooms – you are still a person that deserves to be talked to with respect and dignity.
#2 Even when it seems you have little, there is always someone who needs your help who has less!
So we struggled. A lot. Paying the electric, phone, and gas bills was a struggle for my mom not occasionally, but most of the time. It was a really big deal when she had enough money to have the gas company come out and fill up our propane tank for heat. We mostly didn’t use the heat and just piled on extra blankets and socks to stay warm. I thought my friends who had the heat running all the time were well-off. Such an interesting barometer, don’t you think? Had heat? Richey Rich! No Heat? Poor Polly!
Regardless of her own struggles, my mom is known for helping any stray that she comes in to contact with. She would often let other people stay in our extra bedrooms. For extended periods, we had other families living with us. At one time, we had two families living with us! I’m sure they helped out a little with the bills, but not much. She did it because they needed help. For a while, they were just part of our extended family. They may have needed help between jobs, or because of their own recent divorce. It didn’t really matter. She did what she could even though she didn’t have heaps to give.
Recently in that chicken-processing plant job she held for a while, she often packed two or three lunches for her shift. One was for her, but the others were for coworkers who were living out of their cars. I think some of them were immigrants who didn’t have other family around. She just couldn’t let someone go hungry.
#3 Fun & adventure can be found on the cheap and you should go find it!
My mom is a world-traveler at heart. She works hard, but likes to play hard too. Sure she would like to travel in style with 4 and 5 star hotels, and first class plane tickets. But she has more like a Miller-Lite budget than a champagne budget. I’ve actually never seen her drink a glass of champagne (I should buy her a bottle just because).
A small budget doesn’t hold her back from seeing the world and wonderful and interesting places. She researches deals, she camps, she stays with friends while they are on work trips, she hitches rides with friends and families going her direction. Bottom line is she is resourceful and it allows her to take fun trips on the cheap.
I once invited my mom to come with me on a work trip of my own to NYC. I knew she could keep herself entertained while I was at my work meetings during the day. It’s the Big Apple after all. There is tons to do. I planned to treat her to a Broadway show (she likes theater) and take her out to dinner. She showed up on the train with four bags. Only one of them was for her clothes and toiletries. The others had food, drink, even all the mix-ins for cocktails. She knew the prices in NYC are ridiculous and although I was paying for her meals, she wanted to help save me money. So we mixed our little cocktails in our room and another night cap when we came back from our spendy night on the town. Good memories. Good. Cheap. Memories. Fun memories that I wouldn’t trade for a $14 bar drink.
I’m proud of my mom. Of course I love her tons, but I am proud of the example she set for her daughters and sons. Working hard is essential but you can have fun too! Treat people with respect and help those in need. Lessons for all of us to live by.
Happy Mothers Day! Now go call your mom! I’d call mine, but she’s on a cruise right now in the middle of the sea! Go figure.
What is one thing that your mom taught you that has impacted either your work ethic or your outlook on priorities?