Home of the Bellingwood Series – Nammynools

Things Mom Never Taught Me

1960 - I wasn't quite a year old.
1960 – I wasn’t quite a year old.

I found a post from February of 2010 with that title and it made me chuckle. There were a lot of things that my mother didn’t spend any time teaching me. She didn’t teach me about glamour and pretty stuff. It wasn’t important to her. She didn’t teach me about fancy clothes or popular music or movies. We didn’t go to parties, I never learned about painting my nails or pedicures or how to wear makeup. I didn’t have all the new toys (Max gave me my first Easy-Bake oven in my forties) or games.

Honestly, there were a lot of things, that if I spent too much time thinking about it, Mom never taught me. She’d had a privileged … and a rough childhood and there were things that seemed so common place to her, but it never occurred to her to transfer them to her children.

Mom grew up in Boston. She went to exclusive schools and spent time with very wealthy girls from well-known families. The woman who taught her how to drive a car was her father’s mistress. She was invited to the Debutante Ball at the Tuilleries in Southern France, but decided she had better things to do. Her parents lived in the carriage house on the estate of the Treasurer of Harvard. None of these things were important to her and none of them made sense in the life of a preacher’s wife in Iowa.

Spring 1971 - oy vey
Spring 1971 – oy vey

The first time she took me to see a stylist, the effect was horrendous. I was frightened of them for years after that experience. Both Carol and I wanted to cry. The woman had pressured mom to let her cut and style our hair. Mom knew better, but she succumbed to the pressure of a church member who offered nicely. How could she say no?  I still think about that day and cringe.

But you know what she taught me about hair and stylists? There was another day at Bell’s Dell. Some of Dad’s family was visiting us and my Aunt Mary offered to cut my hair. Oh, it was worse than this picture. For a girl with curly hair, putting a bowl over your head and cutting off length makes no sense, but that’s what happened. I went inside to look at my hair and promptly burst into tears. Mom came inside with me and sat my butt down in the chair. Rather than taking pity on me, she had a rather stern discussion with me about the fact that my hair would grow out, but if I let my Aunt Mary see my disappointment, her feelings would never be “un-hurt.” I paid attention to that lesson.

Mom on sofa Sigourney old house 2 dogsMom may not have taught me about a lot of ‘things,’ but she taught me a lot about life. I learned to love to read and to write.

Mom taught me that many times the popular kids were uninteresting and that if I spent time getting to know those who were different, I’d have a lot more fun and they’d be more loyal and trustworthy over time.

I learned that I was a person of worth because of the way Mom loved me. When I was little and dealt with nasty girls at school, she spent every evening reminding me that I was unique and special. I didn’t need to take my cues from them, I needed to be who I was.

Mom loved scripture. Her passion for the Bible lives in me. She found Jesus and was His for the rest of her life. But, she balanced her passion for Jesus with a passion for people. Doctrine and rules were never more important than His love for others and the relationship that could be had.

New Kitchen Morning Sun 1970Mom was never bored. She was never boring. After she died, Dad and I talked one day after he’d finally gotten up the courage to ask her surgeon out on a date. He came home from that evening and told me that he’d used up all of his energy in his first marriage. Mom wore him out. Those two would argue about nearly anything – and did regularly. He was not going to do that again.

There was always something going on in Mom’s mind. She hated busy work, housework and meetings. If it stopped her from being creative, it was unimportant. Life is too short to be spent on the mundane. Let me tell you, we were masters of 30-minute, full-house cleaning. Dad learned to give her that much notice before bringing someone home for dinner. In a half hour, the house was clean and a meal was ready to set on the table. She was amazing.

Mom taught me to be real. She taught me to laugh and to feel confident enough in myself to tell stories on myself so that others could laugh along with me. She taught me to have respect for people and to expect that same respect in return.

She was always learning. When she married Dad she couldn’t cook or sew. She didn’t know how to clean a house or take care of a baby. Fortunately, their first church was within a few miles of his sisters, who took Mom under their wings and taught her all of the essentials in life. She became an amazing cook, sewed most of mine and Carol’s clothes while we were growing up (including dresses for my high school dances) and when there was no money for Christmas gifts, she made glorious things by hand for us.

There were things I never learned from her and had to discover on my own, but those are inconsequential beside the things that she taught me.


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