Be A Good Listener
Listening is a skill. It’s something you can practice and get good at.
I learned a lot of my listening skills from my mom, who was always willing to listen to whatever I had to say, no matter how trivial or insignificant some of the topics must have seemed.
During the school year, we had a cleaning service that would come to clean the house 1 time every two weeks. We did all the other cleaning in-between “deep” cleanings.
However, during the summer, in order to earn money for school clothes, my brothers and I became the cleaning service. Mom held the money she would have spent on professional house cleaning to pay us instead. Each of us got a job. Adam got bathrooms, Brian got floors (all of the vacuuming and mopping), and I got dusting.
I’m sure it was difficult at first for Mom to have to go back through and teach us about all the things we missed or needed to clean.
I DREADED that after I got done dusting, Mom would find something I had missed, because I didn’t want to be corrected, and because I didn’t want to disappoint Mom.
But because she took the time to point out the things I had missed, I learned to be thorough and to pay attention to details.
Always Be Everywhere All the Time
I don’t know how, but one or both of my parents was always at every soccer game, football game, lacrosse game, baseball game, awards banquet, OM Competition, theatrical performance, choir concert, etc. Knowing they were there watching, encouraging and loving, made all the difference in my life.
Thank-you Mom for always being there.
Sometime around the time I turned 13, Mom decided it was time for me to do my own laundry. Where I might have initially had some fear about messing up my clothes (mixing reds with whites, etc.), Mom showed me how to separate my clothes, how much detergent to use, and whether to choose hot or cold water.
This skill was not difficult, but it was much better to learn how to do my own laundry at 13 rather than waiting until going to college.
I witnessed my roommates doing their laundry for the first time when they were 19. It was not pretty.
From doing my own laundry, I learned to take responsibility and to take care of my own things.
Plant A Seed
31 years ago, When my parents bought the property where they live now, there was one tree on the property.
Today, there are thousands of trees, and every year Mom plants new flowers.
There are plum trees, apple trees, and some years there are even a couple of pears.
Almost every year, we would also plant a vegetable garden.
Growing up, using produce from the backyard, we made choke cherry jelly, plum jam, zucchini bread (from giant zucchini), and ate snap peas direct from the garden.
I HATED weeding the gardens (flower and vegetable), and probably complained profusely about having to do it.
But I learned that if you put something in the ground and care for it through watering and removing the weeds, that the harvest which comes back to you is often greater than the work you’ve put in to get the harvest.
I remember when my mom got her first new car. I was 24. It’s the strongest example of my mom’s enthusiasm that I can think of.
Carrie and I were at my parent’s house watching a movie with my sister Deanna. Mom came into the house almost jumping with excitement and exclaiming “Well??? “ … “Well!!!”
“Aren’t you going to come and see!!!”
We had no idea what we were going to see. But her enthusiasm moved us to stop what we were doing to go and see.
Mom’s enthusiasm moved us to action. Mom’s enthusiasm has moved me to action a lot throughout my life.
Practice, Practice, Practice
To my 6-13 year old brain, learning piano was too hard.
Of course it wasn’t. I just needed to spend more time with it. The more time you spend working to perfect a skill, the better you will get at it.
Over 7 years, my mom must have cajoled me to practice piano thousands of times.
Eventually I stopped playing piano, but because of practicing piano, I learned to read notes (very helpful for all the singing I did in high school and college), hear music for it’s various parts and rhythms, and I also learned persistence.
It is this persistence that helped me learn the skills I needed, in order to build an Internet Marketing business.
At some point soon, I will pick up piano again, and because of the experience I had growing up, I will know that in order to get good at something, what I need to do is practice, practice, practice.
Be a Little Thinker
I used to have these tapes that I would play in my Fisher-Price battery-powered hand-held cassette player. (My older brother later dissected the still-working player for scrap electronics. I cried. But I digress…)
The tapes were called “Little Thinker” tapes, and they would take the listener on an adventure through a jungle or into space or under the ocean. Halfway through the cassette there would be this sound that would let you know it was time to turn off the tape and draw what you saw.
I loved being a little thinker. Mom encouraged me to think and dream, and to use my brain to dream of possibilities.
Frosties, Ice-Cream Cones, and Licorice
On long car trips, Dad knew how to keep three boys quiet if Mom was sleeping.
At even the slightest hint of raised voices, a large hand would mysteriously come from the front seat, grab whatever limb it could get hold of, and squeeze hard enough to say “I mean business.”
Mom didn’t have that mysterious hand.
But at some point, mom decided to use licorice as a bribe. For every 15 minutes we could be quiet on a car trip (so Dad could sleep), we would each get 2 pieces of red licorice.
It worked like a charm.
Also, some of my favorite time with my Mom comes from the summer before we went to Rome with the John Paul 2 Youth Chorale (Summer 1993).
On the way home from rehearsals, sometimes we would stop by Wendy’s or McDonald’s and get an ice cream cone or a frosty.
Every once in a while, a sweet treat is just the thing to ease tension, or create a nice memory, or to make the rest of the world melt away.
Family Is Always First
No matter what Mom was doing, no matter where we were, if family had something fun going on, or family was in trouble or needed help, Mom was there. Always, and without exception.
Thank-you for always being there for me Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day!