“You’re just like your mother.”
I’ve heard that curse thrown at many a woman, and never as a compliment.
Just like your mother. The implication? Critical. Nagging. Sharp-tongued. Impossible to please.
But the phrase always gave me hope. If all women eventually transform into images of their moms, I was seriously in luck! Nancy Smerdell is one of those rare and beautiful women full of grace and tact who lights up a room. So often, I’ve felt myself to be her polar opposite: clumsy and awkward, prone to do and say just the wrong thing at just the wrong moment.
“Any minute now,” I’ve often quipped, “The change will begin! This curse is really going to work out for me!”
This morning, reflecting on Mother’s Day and mommy-hood, it struck me. The metamorphosis is well under way! In so many ways I’ve become my mother. Hallelujah!
In honor of the glorious change I present ten life lessons learned from my Proverbs 31 mom…
- Make people a priority… Feed them, listen to them, hug them, welcome them into your home and your life. My mother taught me to love people fiercely, actively, and without reserve, even the ones that grate on you.
- Laugh like you mean it… You will know if you share a room with Nancy Smerdell. Joyous and enthusiastic laughter frequently spills from her, ringing through the room. As a teenager I used to imitate the way my mother talked on the phone in her office, head thrown back, chortling with joy at what she heard. Nowadays, it’s not imitation; I’m the woman whose laugh commands the attention of a crowd.
- Don’t take yourself (or anyone else) too seriously… A lot of time we’re laughing, my mother and I, it’s because we’re telling on ourselves. The stories roll round the room, as we lovingly tease each other and reminisce about the-one-time-I-… No family member is safe from imitation and all of it is hilarious.
- Throw your whole heart into your work… I come from a long line of women who love to work. My mother, like her mother before her, modeled for me a strong work-ethic and a passion for excellence in all you undertake. I watched her, after she and my father’s divorce, start as a secretary in an industry she knew nothing about and work her way up over the years to Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
- Get out and play… Don’t be mistaken, though, she’s not all work all the time. She turns most every occasion into a party! Family dinners at mom’s have a way of morphing into game night; the second the table is clear we’re dealing out cards or mixing dominoes. O, and family vacations! She’s constantly scheming up ideas to rope a dozen or so of us into a trip to New York (Broadway, baby!), a week on Lake George, or a three day getaway to her favorite place on earth, Disney Land!
- Don’t let the world dull your spirit… Life has not been easy for my beautiful mother. Yet I have seen her find joy through divorce, death, and great loss. The joy of the Lord has truly been her stength.
- Make the world around you more beautiful… As much as we tease her for almost compulsive habit of stashing mess in closets and washing everyone’s drinking glasses before they’re done with them, my mom strives to beautify the world around her. Each item in her home is lovingly chosen and artfully arranged and her garden becomes a riot of colorful blossoms each spring. She shares this gift with her daughters, helping us all to decorate our own homes. At Christmas time, she gifts us with rainbow crocheted blankets and pastel paintings of her own design.
- Be a beautiful woman in an ugly world…Smile graciously right into the faces of those who have been unkind. Answer wrath with grace. Return cursing with blessing.
- There’s always room for more family… Her step-children call her mom. Our friends ask to be adopted by her. My mother has always been the quintessential mother hen, gathering lost chicks around her. She is never quite so happy as when surrounded by her whole brood and will go to great lengths and great expense to gather us.
- You can love again… Despite heartbreak and loss- two divorces and the tragic death of her third husband- I never saw my mom grow bitter or hardened. Instead, she has modeled again and again the power of a soft heart. She loves wholeheartedly and without abandon, even after those she loves hurt her.
Mom, what a blessing and inspiration of womanhood you are. The greatest thing I could aspire to be is just like my mother.