10 Reasons I Love My Mother

If you’ve been following my 30-day blogging journey, this is Day 8 and it will be a bit different than the others. However, I’ll still find a business focused tie-in to keep a common thread going.

If you don’t know the background on the 30-day experiment, check out Day 1.

My mother is celebrating her birthday today and while she didn’t want a lot of fanfare for it, she did give me the inkling of inspiration for this post.

1-Unconditional Love: I wish I could tell you that every parent gives this but I know that’s not true. I was blessed with not just one great parent, but two. We lost my father in 2011 to multiple myeloma and unconditional love was something we experienced through him as well. Despite having great parents, I haven’t always been a model son. I try my very best to change that as I get older. My mother has always stood by my side. She has always come to my defense, even when I didn’t deserve it. If I’ve learned anything from her (and I have), it’s to not only take that love and cherish it but to give it back; to her and to my own family.

2-Sacrifice: When you have a mother or a parent who is able to give unconditional love, what you find is that they will go to great lengths to sacrifice their time, their love, and their attention to give you everything they possibly can. I’ve seen this in my own life and I watch it happen respectively with the mothers of my sons: my first wife, Megan, to our son Jackson and my wife, Marissa, to our son, Sebastian. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by women who would give anything (and I mean anything) to see their boys thrive. And where did I experience that first? From the woman who brought me into this world. For 47 years, I’ve watched my mother give her all in every single endeavor I’ve seen her take on. If it meant that sometimes she had less, so that I could have more, then that’s what happened. It may not have always been fair to her but she gave it (and continues to give it).

3-Loyalty: It wasn’t just loyalty to my father and their marriage, it’s loyalty to the people around her. My mother can be quite reserved and a bit of an introvert. When she finds her people, she latches on and she holds them dear. I have sometimes told her that her loyalty can betray her, as sometimes the people she holds close don’t return the favor. I guess the safest way to address that is to say that loyalty, while admirable, can come at a great personal cost. Some battles you fight, some battles you win.

4-Work Ethic: I was raised by two people who worked their tails off. When I was of an age where it was expected that I would join the work force, my mother and my father were the ones who impressed on me how important it was to have a strong work ethic. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate why that mattered. As I got older, it became clear. You work, not only to support your family but to create and curate a better world around you. I have said, only half in jest, that when it comes time for my mother to leave this world, it wouldn’t surprise me if I was picking her body up from her shop floor. For the last 40 years, my mother has given her life to the floral world. Since we lost my father, it’s only made my Mom dig her heels in a little more because time spent making stunning floral arrangements for “Just Because” gifts, holidays, weddings and funerals is less time spent grieving the loss of my father. If you know her, and you know how she works, you know that her commitment to her craft is without equal. There is hardly a soul in this world who I would, in good conscience, say they could outwork my mother. Thank you, Mom for teaching me something about this.

5-If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…: Perhaps it’s that Southern upbringing but it’s rare to hear my Mom speak unkindly about people. It’s not that she doesn’t have an opinion and it’s not that she doesn’t share it. It’s that she typically reserves those comments for “behind closed doors.” In a world where nearly everyone with an opinion shares it openly and often without reservation or hesitation, learning to be a bit kinder to those around you has only served me well in my life. This was taught to me by both of my parents. I’m pretty good at adhering to it but even I need to polish my skills.

6-Etiquette: “Jason, say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. “Jason, say ‘Yes/No, sir’ or ‘Yes/No, ma’am’. “Jason, hold the door open.” “Jason, be grateful.”, “Jason, patience is a virtue.” You’re getting a snapshot of much of my upbringing. Be polite, be a gentleman, be respectful. When the lessons took, they always worked out for the best. As I mentioned before, I haven’t always been a model son but when I remember these simple lessons, life is just better for me and those around me. Again, both of my parents taught me these things but my mother is still here to refresh my memory and to model the behavior herself.

7-Simple Pleasures: Growing up, my mother didn’t ask for much. Want to give her something she’ll love? Take her to the movies and grab some buttered popcorn. The greatest gifts to her are the things which aren’t expensive but, are relatively easy to find and appreciated because she rarely makes the time to buy those things for herself. It’s not about “bigger and better”. It’s about the simple pleasures in her life that allow her to rest, allow her to recover her body from a hard day’s work, allow her to freshen up her home, and allow her to enjoy some escape and entertainment.

8-Southern Cooking: My mother and I are both from small towns in Tennessee. My love for Southern cooking comes not just from her, but my grandmother as well. I don’t get the opportunities to eat a home cooked meal with my Mom as I did when I was growing up, but rest assured, if push came to shove, I could walk into her house and she could whip something up with what she has on hand, no recipe needed, and it would be delicious. I know most Southern fare isn’t the “healthiest” but there are few things in this world more comforting and therapeutic than the love put into a home cooked meal no matter what side of the globe it originated from.

9-The Best Knowledge Isn’t Always Found In Books: Unlike me, my mother is not an avid book reader. That being said, there is one publication that she reads and pays close attention to. That would be an industry specific magazine for the floral industry. While I continue to plow through all manner of books for pleasure and for continuing education, my mother condenses most of her reading to this journal. In it, she can take these bite-sized chunks of fads, trends, technological advances and design tips and apply it to her craft. Of course, when you have decades upon decades of design experience, you probably have a better handle on what you need to keep up with and what’s essentially derivative. Mom takes what she’s learned from all of those years of work and applies what she needs from her industry magazine. It saves her time when time can be in short supply. Basically, she learned how to work smarter, not necessarily harder.

10-Respect: I could probably write an entire post off of this one word. I’ll try not to drag it out that far. I was raised to respect my parents. In return, I was raised by parents who respected me. I can say, in hindsight, that my parents never failed on their end of the bargain. Respect is a loaded word. Many people who demand to receive it, don’t deserve it. In reality, those who rarely ask for it, tend to receive it (I’m sure there are exceptions). My mother and I have always been close. When we lost my father, we became closer. The last argument I ever had with my mother (and I’m not sure if argument is the right word) was the week of my father’s passing. Dad witnessed that and while I don’t remember the details, here is what I do remember: Mom and I sorted out the disagreement and we’ve never argued with each other since. While I wholeheartedly believe that you can disagree with someone and still have the utmost respect for them, as far as my mother and I are concerned, there just isn’t a need. It’s left such an impression on me, that it has changed the way I raise our son. There is a consistent thread of understanding: “Sebastian, listen to your mother. Respect what your mother tells you. She is only trying to do what’s best for you.” Perhaps that’s the lesson to leave you with in this post: All of my life, my mother tried to do what was best for me. We didn’t always agree and we didn’t always see eye to eye. But I knew (and I know) that all she’s ever tried to do was what seemed right and to do it from a place of love and respect so that I could live the best life I could. I think I’m finally learning to mirror that with my own family.

Mom, Happy Birthday. There are far more than ten reasons to love you. I’ll tell you here, like I tell you in person: Dad would be proud.