Today is Mother’s Day and even though my mother moved on to the next plane of existence fourteen years ago, I still think of her and the lessons I learned from her when days like Mother’s day roll around.
My mom was a, shall we say….ahem….colorful character. She liked fast cars and faster men, in an age when such a thing was REALLY frowned upon. She also liked the lifestyle that went with fast cars and fast men. Some say I had an abnormal childhood because of who and what she was, but I never compared my childhood with others, so I didn’t see it as abnormal. I never doubted my mother’s love for me, even if it was expressed in unconditional ways. Our relationship was rocky, and there were years when I did not speak to her and years when I lost my respect for her. She was never really a traditional mother figure for me, but she was, still, my mother. At the end, I had done my work and loved her and honored her place as mother in my life. At the end, forgiveness was complete for me. I continue to be grateful for what my mother taught me, so here is some motherly wisdom for you.
1. Always tip the cab driver, because you never know when he’s going to sit at your table. Back then this had a practical aspect: she was a waitress and I ended up being a waitress for many years while putting myself through college. Today I know this wisdom is another way of voicing a basic spiritual truth: we receive what we put out, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something because you’re a girl. My mother was a feminist from the get go, she didn’t believe in women not being able to do anything they wanted because they were women. She illustrated this by becoming a very good amateur race car driver, she raced Porsches. She taught me to drive, and owning a Porsche Targa convertible is on my bucket list, that’s a legacy from my mom (my dad prefers British cars…just sayin’). Today I see what she voiced back then as another version of the concepts of non-duality and non-separation. Just as Spirit is not separate from us, neither are we separate from other humans by virtue of our gender, race or any other perceived difference. To this day I really don’t much care for all women retreats, or for anything that excludes because of gender or race.
3. Forgiveness gives the person doing the forgiving the relief, not the forgiven. My mom wasn’t the only one who taught me this, but she was the one who taught me it was important to forgive before they move on to the next plane of existence. Forgiving to someone you can’t consciously communicate with is, at least for me, unsatisfactory. Somehow, when she was getting ready to move on, I knew this, even though I hadn’t yet even begun my Practitioner training, and made sure that nothing was left unsaid before she went. I also made sure that I did everything humanly possible to be there for her and be a good daughter to her in those last months. This entailed many trips to Fallbrook, CA, where she was living at the time. I would work my weekends as a wedding photographer, then go to see her for a day or three during the week, then fly back home to Tahoe and do it all over again. During my times with her I would sleep on the floor in her bedroom (no room for a cot, and it was too painful for her to share the bed) because she didn’t want to be alone, and I would spend the days with her watching TV together, or talking, or reminiscing. I am so grateful for that experience!
4. Downshift and slow down coming into a curve, then speed up coming out of it, and hug the corners. This is standard race car driver speak, and she taught me well. I’m sure my mother never meant any of the stuff she taught me to be metaphors for life, but that’s what I’ve done with these lessons. The metaphor here? We all experience curves in life, those times when the path we are on becomes a bit tougher to negotiate. This is the time to slow down a bit and be gentle with ourselves. The slower gentler pace will make it easier to negotiate the curve, and when we begin to come out of the curve we can speed up a bit if we like. And just as there will always be curves, the curves will also always straighten up.
5. My mom also taught me some lessons that I’ve had to unlearn. The biggest one was “don’t rely on anyone for anything.” I don’t know why she felt she couldn’t rely on anyone, but I do know that the people in our lives are mirrors for ourselves. All that color and character did make her a bit unreliable in certain situations, so it is no surprise that she attracted unreliable people into her life. My journey has first been to make myself reliable, and then to know that others are reliable too. And in order to rely on others, I’ve had to have a certain amount of trust. Guess what? I had to trust myself first before I could trust others. I still have to consciously remind myself that I can ask for help, and it is always rewarding when I do.
I am so grateful for the lessons my mom taught me. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for her influence, and I like that person. Today is a day when many are celebrating their moms. If you’re mom is alive, spend some time with her and tell her how grateful you are for her influence in your life. And if you can’t do that, just wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and make it a goal to be able, by next Mother’s Day, to be grateful for her and to express that gratitude to her. You will be glad you did.