Things I learned from my mom

(I actually started writing this nearly a month ago... but finals happened and it didn't get finished until just now... for a better explanation of the insanity of finals... see my other post.  :) )

I'm linking up with Jen from Ramblings of a Suburban Mom today for Thursday Thoughts

Today, I am going to write part two of my ode to my mom.  After I posted yesterday, I realized there was a lot more I wanted to say.  So, I'm going to continue part two of my ongoing series... honestly, it might only be a two-part series, but I want to keep my options open.

I'm going to start off by telling you the things my mom did not teach me.  She did not teach me how to cook, or bake, or sew, even though she was great at these things herself.  Not for lack of effort, mind you, but because I had ZERO skills.  I'm going to give her credit for attempting to teach me those things, but I don't think Martha Stewart herself could have imparted any homemaking knowledge onto me during my teens and early twenties.

However, my mom taught me the importance of knowing how to cook, and bake, and sew.  It took me quite a while, but I have learned how to do all of these things on my own (not withstanding the baking/hostage plan I outlined in yesterday's post).  According to my husband, I'm the most Amish person he knows (granted, his bar is pretty low).  I've made him a couple of quilts, I jar and preserve produce, I've been known to make my own jam.  My mom did all of these things and I was able to recognize their place in the world -- even a 21st century, iPhone and fast food world.

(jarred peaches)

(a lovely quilt)

My mom taught me two things that I think are more important than anything else.  She probably taught me hundreds of things, but I'm going to stick with two, mostly because it's late and I think all of the important stuff can be boiled down into these two.

1.  My mom taught me the importance of reading.  As far back as I can remember, I had almost unlimited access to books of every level, in every subject.  I saw her reading very regularly.  My mom bought me more books than I could ever count.  I wish I still had some of them, because they were amazing -- especially the sesame street series.

(If anyone has these, let me know!)

Because of my mom's encouragement, I read all the time.  I know that gave me a leg up when I started school, and I know that I would not have been nearly as successful in school if I wasn't such an avid reader.  I read non-stop, something that continued right up until I started law school, which requires endless reading of another, less exciting, sort.  While she didn't know it at the time, research has proven that a child's success in school, and life in general, directly correlates to the number of books they have access to at home.  There must be a limit to this, because if there was a direct dollar to book correlation, I should be a millionaire.  

2.  My mom also instilled a moral obligation to care about others.  Realistically, 90% of the good things that I have done in my life come directly from this morality.  Probably the most obvious manifestation of this is my career choice:  I am a teacher in one of the highest risk schools of the nation.  My students are struggling academically, socially, emotionally, and in every other way you can imagine.  I choose to work in this type of school year after year because I care about my students and the education they receive.

I gave away a kidney because of this moral obligation.  No one forced me to do it.  When I learned that Mike's mom needed a kidney donor, it seemed absolutely natural to offer my kidney.  I think I did this shortly after our second date -- long before we got married and a couple of years before the transplant surgery. I had two of them, science says I only need one.  Easy answer - give up a kidney.  Part of me still does not understand how in a self-proclaimed Christian nation, more people do not subscribe to this theory.  People need organ donations.  Other people have organs they aren't using.  In the spirit of Christian charity, people should give them away.  Problem solved.

This is also where the foster-care thing comes into play.  Really, it's sort of the same logic I used with the kidney.  Children need homes.  We have a home.  We want, but cannot have children.  Bam.  It all seems so simple when we look at it that way.

Maybe all of this is over-simplified.  Maybe I should spend more time thinking through the consequences of my choices and what all of this really means... blah blah blah.  But, I don't think I will.  So far, my life has been enriched by the choices I have made.  Granted, giving away a kidney completely killed my dreams of becoming an MMA fighting champion, but you know, give a little (kidding!).  In a weird way, my kidney donation got me into law school.  (I'll tell that story another time)


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