Life Lessons From Mum
I grew up without a dad as he passed away 32 years ago. Almost all my memories revolve around Mum who has been My Strength, My Comfort, My Solace, My Role Model, My Everything!
Life was harsh on her, she became a widow at just 37. She was a school teacher earning a meagre salary, had four young girls to raise, the oldest of us being only Eleven. Mum’s responsibilities increased greatly with the passing of my dad. However, being the kind of person that she is — She never gave up! She ploughed on, shouldering the responsibility of bringing up four young girls determined to make it despite innumerable shortcomings.
The fact that we didn’t have a dad did not earn us leverage or brownie points. We were still the same to her and I think that only fuelled a need in her to toughen us up. As time rolled by, there are lessons I’ve learned from her that I will carry with me all my Life and hopefully one-day pass on to my children.
Knowing Mum, she would rather I share it with the world than keep it to myself, so here are some of them;
Never Give Up: Mum would say, “No matter how tough the situation, remember there is always a way”. Her “Never Give Up” Attitude is Contagious. She has always been “as determined as a hawk with his eye on a field mouse”. Seeing her tenacity, her unflinching spirit to keep trying till she succeeds has many a times prevented me from throwing in the towel. So, whenever I have encountered hurdles or leaned toward giving up, I’d recall her words and the tough times she has been through. I would realise that the situation at hand is not even half as much as the cards she was dealt with and I would pull through. That’s why tenacity is second nature now. Remember, Nothing is Over Until You Give Up!
Keep To Your Word: Mum has always reiterated the importance of keeping to our word. She said if you tell someone that you will do something then make sure you keep to it no matter what. If you are unsure of whether you can come through with it, do not commit, because when we don’t follow through we let people down and it decreases the value of our word. When people discover that a person is all talk and no action, they stop listening and they stop believing. Since then, keeping my word is very important to me.
Never Lie: She’d says “No matter how difficult the situation, never resort to lies however black or white you may want to paint it, cause a lie is a lie”. She has inculcated in us the importance of speaking the truth irrespective of the circumstance or the consequence. She says, “Lying erodes trust, trust is a bases of all relationships and if there is no trust, there is no relationship”.
Do Not Procrastinate: People who are like me would think that at 69 it’s best to just rest. But no, not Mum — she is not the kind to sit around twiddling her thumbs. Every other day before leaving for work I’d tell her to take it easy, that there is no hurry, no deadline to meet, so not to rush around doing things and if she feels tired to rest. Mum being Mum agrees but then when I get home in the evening she is exhausted. When I confront her she tells me that she’d rather finish what is pending and then rest as she cannot sit around knowing fully well there are things to do. To this day, I’ve NEVER seen her postpone a chore nor neglect her responsibility.
Never Envy, Be Bold and Confident Instead: Although we came from a less than fortunate background we never felt short of anything in our lives. We had what it took, confidence in ourselves and our abilities and a powerful thought continuously working in our mind that nothing was ever impossible. We never grew up envious of those who had it better than us nor did we feel the need to be insecure.
Give It Your Best Shot: I’ve rarely seen Mum slack at anything. Whether it was down to making a cup of tea, preparing dinner, helping us with our studies or doing something for someone else. She always went about it with the same dedication. No matter how insignificant the task at hand she made sure she did it to the best of her ability. She always said that no job was menial.
Making The Most Of: Opportunity was not a luxury in our house and we have learned to make the most of what we’ve had. We couldn’t afford fancy toys and games like other children so we created our own games with the resources we had and we delighted in them. (Left to Right: Georgina, Dolorous, Mum, Sharon and Yvonne) I remember the four of us, putting two chairs to face each other, covering it with a bed sheet, pretending we were travelling by a train, making sound effects and sprinkling water when someone announced that we were crossing a river. Makes me smile, creative right? :-)
Quit Complaining: No matter how rough those days were, I do not recall Mum complain. She didn’t dwell on what we did not have, she focused on leading us to a better future so she accepted the situation for what it was, dealt with and went about her life as normally as she could.
Be Happy: Despite hardships I always saw Mum happy, smiling and cracking a joke. Looking at her, you wouldn’t be able to say that the lady was roughing it out and I had no idea what she was going through alone until I could comprehend it later. I asked her how she did it, she said she put her faith in God and knew that no matter what, he was there for us.
Don’t Be Too Proud To Apologise: A strong person is never too proud to apologise when they are wrong. Mum says, “It takes courage to accept that you are wrong, so don’t be afraid to apologise if you have wronged someone. Apologising isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact it is a sign of strength”.
Finish What You Have Started: I’ve come across people who start something, aren’t able to complete it — ditch it or leave it for someone else to do. Although I agree that ditching it is probably better when you realise you are at a dead end, I also realise that if someone else can complete it so can you. Mum has taught me not to do a half-baked job. To finish what I start even if it is as difficult and as annoying as it could be.
Stand Up For What Is Right: Mum has never hesitated to voice out her opinion even if it meant questioning authority. Of course she did it tactfully and politely. However, despite our circumstances she didn’t feel the need to compromise her self-respect to the things she believed in, her principles, ethics, morals and values.
Treat People Equally: Whether it was the Garbage Collector and the Post Man coming home requesting for Christmas treats or the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) doing a door-to-door campaign for votes, Mum treated both people equally and respectfully and she inculcated the same thoughts in us to treat others with respect.
These are some of the values I have grown up with and have inculcated and will treasure for the rest of my Life!
Mum now lives with me, she is a globe-trotter and visits my three older sisters who live in different countries. She says life was tough but it was well worth the sacrifice as she is happy with the way it turned out.
What Life Lessons have you learned from your parents which you carry with you till date? What would you advice your Children? Let me know your thoughts.
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Originally published at www.linkedin.com on November 20, 2014.