During the month when we celebrate mothers, I am prompted to ponder the lessons my own mother taught me by the way in which she lived her life. Like so many women who were children during the Great Depression, my mom learned to develop a mindset of lack and an ultra-cautious attitude about spending money, which rarely allowed her to indulge in anything purely for pleasure. She was the woman who covered the carpeting’s high-traffic areas in our home with Dollar Store rugs, saved the good dishes for a day that never came, and invested all her money for the sole purpose of leaving it to me one day rather than enjoying it herself. As it turns out, I didn’t need her money and tried to coax her to spend at least some of it during her later years (with minimal results.)
To complicate matters, my mom had had a series of three unhappy marriages, which reinforced her anxieties and kept her from really enjoying much of her adult life. She was forced to be the responsible person in two of those marriages and learned to resolutely guard her hard-earned assets from being squandered. I’m grateful that she modeled exceptional money management skills for me, because that has served me very well. I have great respect for my mother’s efforts and her devotion to me and my children, but it deeply saddens me that she lived so small when she would not have had to.
Yet there was another, unrealized version of my mom who craved fun and excitement and was still plotting dreams and schemes until she was placed in hospice care six days before her death. At the age of 79, she was not mentally done living. And after a lifetime of my emulating her practices and then losing her, wishing she’d had more time to enjoy, I was jolted into a new way of thinking and being.
I finally understand that life is meant for so much more than just moving through and enduring. Why else would there be limitless possibilities for awe-inspiring places to visit and breathtaking adventures to be had if we aren’t meant to experience all of it? My mom’s life convinced me that it’s ok to spend the money, to follow your heart, to put yourself first, and to believe you are worthy of your wildest dreams. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to spend the rest of my years in passionate pursuit of as many thrills and as much enchantment as I can experience! I intend to fully live while I’m alive.
My mother would want that for me.