As both a caregiver to my 94-year old mom, Gladyce, and a mother of seven, Mother's Day is a holiday that I cherish with my family. It's a time to reflect on the lessons we've learned from mom, and the way those teachings have shaped who we are and how we instill values in our own families.
My mom Gladyce is the ultimate positive thinker. She always saw the glass half full and that's how she taught us to look at life. Growing up she taught us many life lessons that I still hold dear to me. While I've learned a lot from her throughout my life, what I find myself teaching my own children most often is the importance of letting go of anger. Mom always taught us never to hold a grudge. She showed us that you can discipline your children, teach them right from wrong, but with Gladyce... after a moment of frustration or anger with us, she would let go of those emotions minutes later and move on, often suggesting we do something fun together to change the mood. She always told us that holding on to whatever anger or resentment you have, will ruin your time as long as you're holding on to it. I try to teach this to my children every day. I tell them that if you have an argument or someone doesn't behave as you hoped they would, it doesn't mean that it has to ruin your day, or more importantly, your relationship with that person.
To me, this lesson has been the best gift my mom ever gave me, especially now that I am a caregiver to her. Families are dynamic and often burdened with conflict that people can hold on to for decades. I am learning more now than ever that when you get to the point in life where you begin to act as a caregiver to a loved one, you have to let it go! Being angry at your mother or father for not being the best parent all the time or making a mistake in life, will dominate your new relationship as caregiver. Letting go and forgiving is such an important part of the beginning steps of caregiving and it is your decision to make. Holding on to resentment and anger can make this process a negative experience and I believe that it can actually be positive and even strengthen your relationship with your parent... if you can let go and move forward together.
Being outspoken about my own journey as a caregiver, I've heard powerful stories from families all over the country who are coping with the complex issues of aging and caregiving. The strength of mothers around the world -- and the families that support them -- is inspiring.
On Mother's Day, we can honor our nation's mothers in many ways. Serving as a loving, devoted caregiver is one -- recognizing what our mothers have taught us is another. Recently, A Place for Mom asked Americans about the most important lessons learned from mom in its second annual Mother's Day survey. The responses were insightful, touching and addressed topics such as life, happiness, compassion, career, love and more. I thought I would share some of my favorites here:
· "You cannot control what life gives you, but you can control how you handle it."
· "Seek first to understand, not to be understood."
· "Work hard and always have something for yourself."
· "Love unconditionally and steer your child in the right direction with positive energy."
· "Don't give up. Remember your roots. Stay strong, and if all else fails, have a good cry (but privately)!"
· "Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it's easier than the alternative."
· "It is important to be kind to your family, because you are stuck with them forever."
· "No matter what obstacle you are facing, no matter how difficult, daunting or terrifying, if you attack it with everything you are made of you will always prevail."
· "Love is what matters most in the world."
· "Always have a good pair of red heels and red purse."
You can read more about the inspirational wisdom shared as part of A Place for Mom's survey on their blog: www.aplaceformom.com/