It seems to me that ‘Motherhood’ is a series of life lessons; some learned from friends and books, the internet and Family Circle ( or other such in-depth and enlightening periodicals!) Some of the more testing lessons are learnt whilst flying by the seat of our pants, with on job training supplied by our master teachers – the children.
Some of the most important lessons and tips I have learnt over the years though, are from some of the more age perfected mothers in my life…. They have struggled through divorces and heartaches; deaths and partings and a few have even sailed through long, long marriages and seem to still be smiling. A miracle in its self. Say no more!
My Mama, Minnie, who I might add, has been a single mum since I was 4 years old and managed to raise two fairly sane human beings has always been a great inspiration to me. Her most heeded advice (for stay at home mums) has been to always, always have a little bit of your own money…whether from a part-time job or hobby or from a very generous husband (who shall not be named…thanks Dude!) who flings a certain amount into your bank account each month. This gives you the guilt free freedom and pleasure of buying clothes or cosmetics or small treats or art supplies (or furniture LOL!!!) when you want…no questions asked.
Min also advises to Never talk about family and friends behind their backs – it’s not fair. Their ears will burn and no one likes burnt ears.
Always maintain a healthy friendship with your Ex Husband (thankfully I don’t have one of those!) because this way, supposedly dysfunctional families can be highly functional with a little give and take. I can assure you, this one works!! Mum and Dad are still friends nearly 40 years later and we have spend countless Christmas’ sharing our table with both of them….and their partners. It’s normal.
Always, always have a cat. They offer companionship, unconditional love and routine, often when the craziness of life makes you think there is none.
You are never too old to learn a new skill or have a new hobby or passion… have interests away from your kids.
Dance and dance often for fitness, health and a brilliant social life! Seriously, Min puts our social life to shame!
Always buy TWO if you find something good – especially shoes! This way you will never face the disappointment of wearing them out.
Never, ever wear chipped nail polish. And whilst we are on the subject of polish – make sure its the brightest red or pink that money can buy. Gently teach this vital life lesson to your 4 granddaughters.
Travel, especially to Italy and Switzerland. There is nothing wrong with returning to a favourite destination a zillion times over if it fills you with joy and you get to eat gelato whilst promenading around Lake Como.
Dont save the best crystal, the best china or the best linen – Use it EVERY day. Treasure your family heirlooms, don’t hide them away. Teach the grandchildren the stories behind these treasures. Family memories shouldn’t get lost between the generations.
More life lessons, this time from my grandma Mutti, who lived 20 years longer than her beloved husband:
Find beauty in the little things – flowers in an old family vase, fruit in a bowl picked up in a flea market in Italy. Fill your home with treasures collected whilst travelling exotic and ‘off the beaten track’ locations.
Love God, make him a big part of your life. He will keep you safe and teach you to have no fear. Look forward to seeing your loved ones again in heaven. Buy dogs for the Carmelite Nuns then spend years writing on behalf of your dogs to the nuns dogs who always reply…It’s amazing what a dog living in an enclosed nunnery can write about!
Travel is adventure, the world is an amazing place to be discovered.
Eat an orange every morning and always, always make a proper meal with loads of veggies everynight…even when it’s just you for 20 very long years.
Always have a dog…(with a human name like Mr Mitchell, Franco, Susannah, or Tracey.) Dogs will keep you walking well into your 80’s.
Red Zimmer frames DO go faster.
When not pushing your red Zimmer frame, Drive your red, Fiat 124 sports car to the local shops daily – it doesn’t matter if you don’t take it out of 2nd gear just as long as you use it.
Say “Shit” loudly and often – other words just don’t match the element of surprise that this word does when coming from a beautiful, elegant, gray-haired woman.
Now to my lovely, patient Mother In-Law Bitty who has been married to Dude’s dad for over 50 years. Bitty has advised me that soup is the way to a man’s affections. Any kind of soup – except cold soup…cold soup just doesn’t cut it.
Count to ten. If that doesn’t work count to 20…if that dosent….You get the picture.
Travel, its good for the bones and gets you out of chilly Scotland!
Embrace life in your late 70’s – living with your husband, daughter and young grandson. Surrender your house and life to raising a child once more and make sure you do this with patience and good humour. Buy your grandson a puppy…and realise that even the old and wise make mistakes! Puppies and 6-year-old boys when put together are very mischievous.
Then there is our dear ‘Bubbles’ – My Mum’s best friend since they were 16 years old and a constant in my life:
Be bubbly by name and nature…laugh often and loudly, be silly, be joyous…you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by a happy outlook.
Show interest in the people around you – ask questions, listen and get excited by what your loved ones are doing. Email with your best friend DAILY….friendship can be maintained for over 40 years even when you live on opposite sides of the globe for all that time.
Promenading around Lake Como with your childhood friend and a gelato is a must if possible, once a year.
So as you can see, these inspiring life principles are as varied as the wonderful woman who have lived by them. These ladies have at least 30 years on me…so I have plenty of time to decide on the life lessons I will teach to my girls when they are mothers. But right now my tips are these:
Always have a furchild or two or three in your life…preferably a dog. If you get cats, know that couches and armchairs make the best scratching posts.
Buy your kids real art materials…forget this student quality stuff. If you are going to be an artist and spend many hours in the studio you may as well have your kids painting with you, you never know, one day you may exhibit together or at the least if you run out of paint you can use theirs.
Do whatever you can to ensure at least one of your daughters has the same shoe size as you…this way you can justify buying the more expensive shoes knowing they will get twice the wear. Remember though, that your wardrobe will become their wardrobe but theirs does not become yours…mutton dressed as lamb and all that.
If your husband has a love (apart from you) such as a boat, learn to enjoy it with them. Fake it til you make it…
And that’s my take on life as I know it.
Happy Mothers day…especially to the more age perfected Mums that have meant so much to me.