The original document that became this post was a gift to my mom. Some of the jokes may not make sense to non-family, but I think most of it is universal! If you know her, wish her a happy birthday today!
To my Mother, to commemorate the anniversary of her birth (which occurred in Eugene, Oregon some sixty-odd years ago…during a blizzard…uphill both ways).
A short list of lessons my mother is proud to have taught me:
- Jesus is never not the answer.
- The grammatical corollary: Sometimes double negatives are the best way to construct affirmatives.
- There are no neat compartments in our brains or in our lives: everything is connected. Like God and geometry. Ewww, geometry.
- Problems never go away when we ignore them; they simply loom larger on the edges of our lives until they swoop in and take over.
- Our strengths are our weaknesses. She told me this today, in fact. Again. Apparently I haven’t learned it well enough yet!
- It is possible to be logical, rational, and correct in our arguments even when we are crying.
- The relational corollary: Men will rarely take us, or our patently superior arguments, seriously when we are in this condition.
- Things are just things and we never need as much as we have, to say nothing of as much as we want.
- The hospitality corollary: We should share the best of what we have, not the least.
- To damage a person’s sense of dignity is an unspeakable abuse.
- The sports corollary: Learning to lose well is at least as important as learning to win well. This also applies to checkers, rummy, Scrabble, gin, Trivial Pursuit, and Bananagrams. Among others.
- The charity corollary: It is better to provide a way for someone to earn something than to provide the thing itself.
- People are endlessly fascinating.
- The nerd corollary: It is good to be a nerd, to be weird, or to be generally too much.
- The down time corollary: Down time from friends is not a bad thing, especially because I will otherwise never stop talking.
A rather longer list of lessons she may be chagrinned that I learned:
- In a dressing room we never cry when we can laugh instead.
- The fashion corollary: If a dress looks good on neither of us, there is very little hope for it; but if it looks good on both of us, it is a marvel of sartorial splendor. I’ve always wanted to use that phrase!)
- I should be able to install and/or assemble anything sold at Wal-Mart by myself – without breaking something further or harming myself.
- The electrical corollary: It is wise to have a voltmeter in the house to make sure no wires exposed during installation of, say, a ceiling fan, are hot. Don’t worry. Adam is fine. He twitches a little now and then, but he’s fine. I promise.
- Getting lost is no big deal; in fact it can be quite amusing!
- The Atlanta corollary: Getting lost every time we go more than two miles from our house is truly funny…right up to the point that it’s tragic…which may or may not be the moment we back into a telephone pole.
- It is a wonderful thing to laugh at all kinds of things.
- The family corollary: No one else will ever understand that the things we laugh at are funny. Even Adam. That is just sad.
- Putting together puzzles is an excellent way to pass time while waiting for recalcitrant children and/or grandchildren to be born.
- We can be optimistic about anything except Braves baseball, because if the other team scores, “it’s over.”
- No cussing is ever okay…unless it’s in another language.
- Traffic signals are often broken, so we may have to run that red light. This is also known as “traffic laws are more like guidelines anyway.” (Thank you Pirates of the Caribbean!)
- The authority corollary: We only have to follow rules that make sense.
- Necessary life skills include: how to hit or pitch a softball, how to serve a volleyball, how to run a sprint, and how to high jump (scissoring technique, not Fosbury Flop).
- The anti-sedentary corollary: It is always better to be doing something than to be sitting around the house watching TV. (I got around this one by reading. A lot. )
- There are no bored people, only boring ones who cannot entertain themselves. These poor wretches will be given jobs to do if they should happen to complain to their mothers.
- It is a good and normal thing to hide from our children in order to accomplish simple things like reading or escaping constant chatter. The bathroom or the space between the bed and the wall are excellent for this purpose.
- The phone corollary: Children will be their loudest when their mothers are on the phone.
- The bathroom corollary: No mother is allowed privacy when using the bathroom without first locking the children in their rooms.
- Conformity is terrible. Independent thought is a mark of intelligence and there is even a time for outright rebellion.
- The parental corollary: Parents are always correct and therefore the above should only be practiced away from home.
- The respect corollary: Any authority figure deserves to be treated with respect, even when they are wrong. Don’t conform, but don’t be a smartass either. Shoot. That’s not in another language!
Happy Birthday Mommy! I love you!