Magical Moral Mothers
Sunday 26th March is Mother’s Day in the UK. Yes, it’s two months earlier than the Mother’s Day celebrated in the US and Australia. But I’m writing a Mother’s Day post anyway, and not just because I’m gifting this to my own mother because I’m out of the country … Most people believe their mother is a good person and I hope most people would be right in that assumption. As children learn their morality from their parents, good mothers raise good children (in theory). The lessons taught to us, either consciously or subconsciously, by our parents stick with us all of our life. Here are some of the lessons my mother taught me and how to be a good person.
Be kind to your sister
Let me just start by saying that I was a terrible big sister and it took me many years to learn this lesson. But both my parents tried really hard to get me to see how great it was to have a little sister. My mum is one of four children and as I grew up and watched the way they interacted, I began to see the benefits of having siblings, both in the good times and bad. I remember my mum showing me on many occasions the small grey circle on her wrist where my aunt stabbed her with a pencil, now over fifty years ago. In hindsight this was her way of reminding me that even if the scars from our fights faded (or didn’t, as the case may be) the memories would always remain. She was right and my sister has far more memories of our childhood which involve us fighting than I do. Luckily we get on fine now … usually.
Listen to others
Since beginning working with children, I have realised how much kids prattle on about nonsense and completely uninteresting topics. And yet my mum listened patiently to me and my sister as we chatted away, never once cutting us off or failing to answer questions when prompted. I’m not the best storyteller now and perhaps that is why but I am an excellent listener and I believe this is because of how much I was listened to when I was younger. I understand the importance of feeling heard and recognise quickly when someone needs to talk which means many friends do come to me for advice or just a friendly ear, a quality I pride myself on.
I come from a fairly tactile family and was often hugged and kissed as a child. This has always been rather curious to me because my mum certainly didn’t come from a household where affection was openly displayed and suspect her insistence in doing so with her own children was to counteract her childhood. Living in Cambodia I’m surrounded by tactile people all the time now and am completely comfortable with their culture of touching one another all the time. The feeling of being embraced remains a positive one associated with the love and warmth of my family, a physical representation of the bonds which bind us together.
If I am ever dishonest, a rare occasion, I feel really guilty. I am also a terrible liar (although excellent at saying my friend has a birthday party so I can’t attend work events …) and believe that my parents must have effectively instilled in me the importance of honesty. Some people have called me blunt, my best friend even refers to me as a ‘verbal slap in the face’, but I believe my mum’s emphasis on the importance of telling the truth has made me not only trustworthy but also pragmatic and straightforward when it comes to communicating, yet another quality valued in Cambodia.
Laughter is the best medicine
Although laughter isn’t always appropriate, I definitely grew up in a giggling household. And by giggling, I mean I have lost count of the number of times my mum and I have been reduced to tears. My mum taught me not to take myself too seriously, to see the funny side in situations which didn’t go to plan and to make others around me smile. We’re both equally mediocre joke tellers, however, but we make ourselves laugh so that’s ok, right? Happy people are certainly more pleasant to be around.
My mum is a child psychologist and as such she was in regular contact with children who had difficult childhoods and unpleasant home lives. She and my dad strived not only to give me and my sister the best upbringing they could but also reminded us to be grateful for what we had. I suppose in some ways we were spoilt but I also believe that we both truly appreciate what we were given and did not take anything for granted. I know my parents worked hard to give us that life and I know I went to school with people far less fortunate. My mum and dad somehow, impressively, managed to provide their children with an amazing childhood while also instilling in us feelings of appreciation for what we had and compassion for others who were less fortunate. Even now, working for a charity and running one of my own, I am acutely aware that I could not be doing my job without the support of my parents. Both emotionally and financially they have allowed me to chase an economically unsustainable dream because they understood it was important to me to be helping others. It has only been in the past six months, since I began to write professionally, that I have been able to truly become financially independent.
So I suppose this blog has a four-found message. Firstly, mums are amazing and the way we are brought up by this significant figure in our lives really does influence who we become as a person. Secondly, my mum was particularly awesome because she created me. Thirdly, humility is not one of the traits I was taught as a child. And finally, despite being theoretically financially independent, I am still too cheap to buy a Mother’s Day present so … Happy Mother’s Day Mum!