By: Emma Johnston
My mother has always played a significant role in my life. Despite the physical characteristics that we share, our personalities are in many ways very different. We like different hobbies and different music and different styles of clothing. The way we spend our free time and our money and our energy are miles apart. Our sense of humour is different, many of our life philosophies are different and despite my best attempts, she still doesn’t drink coffee! Yet, regardless of all those areas in life where we are different, she is still, without a doubt one of the women in my life that I most love and respect.
When I am struggling or afraid or hurting, I call my mother.
When great triumphs happen, or good news or interesting facts arise, I call mum.
When it’s a Thursday afternoon and I’m bored of folding laundry, I call on mumsie.
In light of International Women’s Day this week and as a recognition that none of us would be around without some of the incredible women in our lives, I’d like to play tribute to the woman who has loved me unconditionally, stuck by me through my stubbornness, independence, adolescence and pride.
Following is a list of the greatest things I learned from one of my favourite women. Mum;
1. My mother taught me that there is always a plan B, or C or D…. Probably one of the most significant things my mother ever taught me was that life will never go as planned. Things happen, opportunities come up, tragedy strikes, life is entirely uncertain. But we can never get stuck on how things ‘should have been’, instead we need to look for new solutions, pull out new ideas, try a new path. There’s always another option and another way. This has stood by me through every twist and turn and surprise in life. If the first plan does not succeed, then there are millions of other plans still left to try. Keep trying!
2. People matter most. My mother has strong principals and a deep faith, but she has never let anything interfere with her belief that loving people matters more than anything else. She has always, through both word and deed shown that loving people, caring for their needs, standing up for those who hurt, this is her purpose in life. Paupers and Kings alike are welcomed by my mother, and she is not afraid to care for even the lowest of the low and shower a good dose of love and kindness and generosity on everyone she meets. People before anything else, matter most to my mother.
3. Tea can solve a multitude of problems. I didn’t fully believe this truth until the other night when my son had experienced a week of sleeping poorly. His stress level had sky rocketed as he worried about WHY he couldn’t sleep which fed his cycle of wakefulness. It took me close to a week before it occurred to me to give him a cup of camomile tea. I can’t count how many times my mother has soothed my stress and anxiety, my new mom jitters or my flu like symptoms with a well brewed cup of tea. How many heart to hearts we’ve had with a steaming cup of Earl Grey between us! Tea sooths, heals, restores, cleanses, calms and connects. Never under estimate the power of a proper cup o’ tea.
4. Choose sanity. My mother has worked hard her entire life. I’ve never not known her to work full time, keep our household, raise her children, drive kids to music lessons, cook meals and still find time to embrace her own hobbies and friends. My mother has more energy than any midsized power station. But amidst the daily, weekly and annual grind, my mum has always taught and practiced what she calls ‘mental health days’. She argues that no one is their best, their calmest, wisest or kindest when all they do is go, go, go. Sometimes we need to do things to recharge, to rest, to find our sanity before taking on the next bit of chaos in our lives. If things are spinning out of control or we can’t keep up or we just need a break, choose sanity. Everyone is better off for it.
5. Finally, my mom taught me about the importance of honesty and apologies. Though she never ‘told’ me that these were crucial to strong relationships, she has demonstrated it every day of her life. I have never once questioned my mum’s willingness to be completely open and honest. She is never fake, hides her feelings or lies about things in her life. If you have a real question, no matter how difficult or awkward or challenging it might be, my mother has a real answer. Because of her commitment to transparency she has always been quick to apologize. Her honesty and transparency is what feeds the strength of our relationship.
Over my 33 years my mother has taught me many things, shared experiences with me and been there loving me through it all.
Each of us have been influenced by incredible women. Whether they are our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, spouses, teachers, neighbours or grandparents. Each of us have known a woman (or a few) who have made us better, encouraged us, taught us or loved us.
Thanks mum, for being one astounding woman to look up to and to call my friend.
To all the strong and incredible women out there – may we know you, may we be you, may we raise you.
Happy International Women’s Day!