Thursday, April 15, 2010

Knowing when to do (a lot!) less. One of Mom's best lessons.

My mom was a hard core homemaker. (Not to mention her mom, who majored in Home Ec at a prestigious California school back in the day. Imagine!) She cooked dinner every night, clipped coupons and made detailed shopping lists, breastfed, baked from scratch, sewed her kids clothes, used cloth diapers, shopped ONLY on sale, you get the picture. Not only did she do all that, but she taught each of us kids to do the same - brother included! And we all enjoy it all to this day...

Today though, as I sat feeding my own babies, I realized that one the lessons I've thought of most that I learned from my mother flies in the face of ALL that I just listed. I doubt if either of us knew just how profound of a lesson it would be at the time.

Mom was also sick for a long time, fighting cancer. Her last summer, when I was 16, I was gone for most of the summer on a mission trip. While I was gone, my spendthrift homemaking mother went in her wheelchair to a higher end department store and bought me two entire outfits at full price. You have to understand that such a thing had NEVER been done before or since in our family. She knew I desperately needed some new clothes, and she knew that she could do almost nothing about it. So she gave up so many of her "principles" and blew me away. She had all these great skills and yet had the wisdom and courage to not use them. (Or maybe she didn't, she just had no choice?) Whatever the motive, she might just have saved my sanity by her example of doing less.

If Mom had never been sick, never been forced to do less, I'd probably never have known that it's OK to give up all those admirable attributes of thrift, creativity, and self-sufficiency that she had. She hired help to clean the house. She let my brother cook entire family meals in the microwave. She didn't shop around for deals, just used the ones at one store. I wonder if she felt like a failure when she did those things. I probably would have.

But today the memory of her "doing less" sets me free every day of my currently crazy life to serve frozen pizza for dinner, hire cleaners and babysitters, sew only every three years, buy stuff not even just at regular price but OVERPRICED at Walgreens, to breastfeed my babies while supplementing with plenty of formula.

Thanks Mom.

A note to myself and any other wonderful mom that stops by here - let's be less than we can be today. Our kids will thank us. Both today, and a long time from now.