Precocious kid as I was, I have this memory of asking OG what a beautiful woman looked like. He said, “Lynda Carter.”
Being around 8 and in the ’90’s I asked, “who??”
He said, “you know, Wonder Woman. She does those commercials for contacts now, but when I was a kid, she was a super hero.”
This was before the days of the Internet, so I couldn’t just go to Google Images and search for “Lynda Carter Wonder Woman.” So the next time we saw one of those contact commercials, OG pointed her out in reference to our conversation.
My first thought when I knew who he was talking about was that she looked like my mom.
Mommacita and Wonder Woman. Yep – it fits. Black, wavy hair. Gorgeous blue eyes. A quick, infectious smile. That’s my mom.
She doesn’t have an invisible plane, but she’s always found a way to help me get where I’m going. She doesn’t have indestructible bracelets, but she’s definitely taught me that I can stand up for and defend myself. She doesn’t have the lasso of truth, but she taught me to always tell the truth and speak my mind. She doesn’t wear spangly outfits, but she definitely sparkles and has passed on the importance of a little flair to me as well.
I know most people think that their mom is the “Best Mom Ever,” and I’m no exception. But I do think it’s necessary, for Mother’s Day, to explain why my Mommacita is the “Best Mom Ever.”
Wether she meant to or not, she’s taught me so many lessons. Here is a mixture of the lessons I learned from Mommacita, whether she intended me to learn them, or otherwise – in no particular order.
- Wear a nude-colored underwear and wear a slip with dresses and skirts. Underwear should not be discernible through clothing so wear nude-colored underwear if you’re going to wear white. And if you’re wearing a skirt or a dress, wear a slip – trust us on this.
- How to sew. I’ll never be as good as her, but I can follow a pattern and create my own projects.
- Decide on your priorities because in life, there are always trade-offs. This is a big one! During one of the many sewing projects we did together, I remember asking her why she didn’t go to college to become a fashion designer. She is so talented in that area, I was convinced she could have been the next Chanel. But she told me, “if I wanted to become a designer, I’d have had to go to school and live in New York. But I wanted to have a family and from what I knew, Lubbock seemed like a better place to do that.” Lots of people would have heard her explanation and disagreed with her – that she could have raised a family anywhere. Believe me, I voiced the same when I asked her. It’s only when I reflected on the conversation that I realized the bigger lesson: having everything exactly the way you want it, is unrealistic. Prioritizing what’s most important, enables you to handle the trade-offs with grace.
- When baking, follow the recipe. When cooking, improvise.
- The value of a dollar. So many times growing up, if I wanted to buy something, or if I wanted my mom to buy me something, she wouldn’t just say “yes” or “no.” Rather, she’s ask me how many chores I’d have to do to earn the money to pay for it. And then she’d ask me if the item itself was worth it.
- Opportunity costs. Similarly, she taught me that if I chose A, couldn’t choose B. Sure, that’s obvious, but she always brought it up to help me determine whether or not the purchase was worth it.
- Make smart investments. When I got older and I needed to buy something expensive, she’d ask me things like “how often will you use it?” or “how long will it last,” helping me determine whether or not it was worth my investment. Some purchases are more expensive than others, but if you get your use out of them, and they last a long time, it’s worth it.
- Light-colored nail polish is better than bold colors because chips are not as obvious. I actually ignore this lesson just about every time I paint my nails, but I never forgot it.
- Clean as you go. It saves so much time and aggravation to clean up after yourself during cooking or other messy activities if you take care of the little messes along the way, instead of waiting for one big mess to clean. This is both a literal and philosophical lesson.
- Open your eyes, and open your heart. When you’re little, you think that what you know is what everyone knows. It’s hard to imagine that someone else might see things differently, or that someone else may not have the same skills or interests as you. My mom taught me that all people have different abilities, experiences and preferences and that it would be a mistake to make assumptions about them. Instead, it’s better to observe and be compassionate.
- Navy is a neutral. There’s a lot of debate about this, but I think my mom’s right. Navy, black, brown, white and grey are all neutral colors and any other color can go with them.
- The point of being a parent is to raise responsible, God-fearing adults. I actually asked her and OG what their goal was in raising us kids – because I was a little weirdo – and that’s what they told me.
- Always send a Thank You note.
- Put your best face forward. She never emphasized vanity or made me wear makeup, but she taught me the valuable lesson that while how I look in no way dictates who I am as a person, it does signal to others who I am. So I should be presentable when in public.
- Always carry a small bottle of lotion in your handbag.
- Perspective. Just about every time I was upset about something, Mom would ask me, “will this matter in five years.” If I pouted and shook my head, she’d say “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I think she has a coffee mug with that saying etched on it. It’s not that she didn’t care about my troubles, but she wanted to teach me the very crucial lesson that not every problem is a crisis, and not every problem actually matters all that much. Perspective is important.
- Savor the little things. We actually used to make fun of Mom for this. To this day, she will take forever to eat a piece of her Special Dark Chocolate because she was “savoring” it. As a hungry teenager, I scoffed. But now as an adult, I eat my dark chocolate slowly. I sip rather than gulp my coffee. I take bubble baths, and I have developed the habit of pausing when things are good to savor the moment.
- Fend for yourself. There were some nights growing up when dinner was “fend for yourself.” With three kids in school for two working parents, there may have been lots of “fend for yourself” nights. We’d make a sandwich, heat up some soup, or try to cook our own food (which may or may not have been just popcorn). But this concept of “fend for yourself” worked in lots of areas. Have dirty laundry? Fend for yourself. Have a lot of homework? Fend for yourself. Need to go to the doctor (as an adult)? Fend for yourself. It might seem like I’m saying she was an absentee-mom, but that’s not true. She taught me that I was not only capable to taking care of myself but that I should take care of myself. A reality and mentality that turned into skills later on. I became a really independent kid and adult.
- Play to your strengths. When I was unsure about running for student council, auditioning for a school play, choosing a major in college, Mom always asked me “what are you good at?” “What do you enjoy?” “How can you apply those to what you want?”
- Marriage is a partnership, not a fairytale. As I was growing up, the divorce rate kept climbing. When I asked my mom about it, she would emphasize that lots of people get married to have a wedding, but not a marriage. A wedding is pretty and like a fairytale, but a marriage is work and life with another person. And before I should have a wedding, I should decide if I really wanted to be married.
- DO what you want. It was made very clear to me that life involved productivity, doing something. I needed to contribute, to give, to make, to do. And I needed to enjoy it as much as possible.
- If you have to lie to your mother about it, you probably shouldn’t do it. I don’t know that she ever said this, but I can think of a few occasions when I knew the painful truth of this statement.
- Life is up to me. Mom didn’t really push or emphasize too much. What she stressed instead is that, within reason and feasibility, I could do whatever I wanted and live however I wanted. If I wanted travel, I could go – provided I earned the money to pay for it. If I wanted a career in anything, I could have it – provided I worked for the grades and took the necessary steps to get there. Once I decided what I wanted and how I wanted to live, the encouragement and support never stopped.
- Love is not a scarce resource. My mom has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She loves God, her family, her husband, her kids, her students, her friends, her country. She also loves the kids at the children’s home where she has volunteered as a tutor. She loves every little baby she sees. She loves her hobbies and interest. She loves so much that it’s obvious that love expands at will.
Twenty-five lessons from Mommacita. That’s actually the short version.
This Mother’s Day, I’m so glad that I’ll be spending the weekend with her, the Best Mom Ever.