When I was young, my mother wore red as often as possible. She had a red car and a red front door. Red was her favorite color. Now as a mother myself, I realize there was much more to her color choice.
My mother was a single mother of three who worked as a teacher and spent most of her time around children. She balanced work and family long before there were modern conveniences like online shopping and virtual assistants.
I knew other mothers stayed home, but even though my mother worked, she was always there to pick me up from school or a dance and take me to weekend activities. If I was sick and couldn't go to school, I stayed home alone. If I wanted my clothes clean for school, I washed them. If I wanted lunch, I packed it. She made the working mother thing seem easy.
From growing up with a single, working mother, I learned a few lessons that serve me well today.
- Make your kids help. I make my kids do dishes, help with cooking, make their beds…all the things my mom made me do. It teaches them responsibility and takes some of the household chores off my plate.
- Be organized. My mother, a teacher, shopped during the summer for Christmas, birthdays, and emergencies. She had gifts in her closet at all times so we were never caught off guard should an invitation come our way.
- Savor Sunday night. Sunday nights were quiet time in our house. My mother paid the bills and planned dinners for the week. We did homework, read books and went to bed early. It helped to start the week from a place of peace.
- Insist on family dinners. We had all kinds of activities during the week but we knew to be home for dinner. Today, I credit that family time with how close I am with my siblings.
- Consider school as important as work. As my mother headed to her workplace, she told us our jobs were to go to school and do well. We took that responsibility seriously and today I tell my children the same thing.
- Only spend what you have. My mother only had a Sears credit card. That’s it. Everywhere else she paid cash. Money was tight but mom would not let us buy a thing unless we had the cash to pay for it. Otherwise, we would do without. I try to abide by the same rule and have stayed out of debt.
- Don't feel guilty for "me time". On Saturday night, my mother would go out and we would have a sitter until my older sister could babysit. It was my mother's time to do whatever she wanted as a woman, rather than a mom. Taking time for herself was how my mom kept her sanity and how I now keep mine.
While my mom still loves the color red, she doesn’t wear it as often today. She no longer needs to convince herself that she has power and determination to survive as a single mom. She has done her job well as a mother, grandmother and role model.
Happy Mother's Day to my mother and all of the other moms out there. You rock!