Chimps and Moms

13 May

Moms are amazing.  The things they do for us are almost superhuman.  Case in point Jane Goodall and her mother Margaret.  Picture yourself in 1960 London.  A novelist and civilized lady.  Your daughter, always passionate about animals and Africa, asks you to accompany her to the jungles of Tanzania so she can fulfill her dream of studying chimpanzees.  British authorities would not allow Jane to study by herself in Africa due to worries for her safety.  Instead of trying to talk your daughter out of this insanity, you agree to go with and live in a tent in the jungle for four months.

Perhaps this is an extreme example, but these are the things wonderful mothers do for their children.  They don’t say “Have you lost your mind?”.  Instead they say “How can I help you?”.  They accept  you for exactly who you are.  They find ways to love not only the most endearing parts of you, but also the most annoying.  They encourage your passions and engage you to work harder at your weaknesses.  They never say “I told you so” or “You can’t”, but instead are there to sweep you up with kind words when you fail.  They take your friends at face value.  They allow you to make your own decisions and then also allow you to accept the consequences for the decisions you make.  They try to lead you in the right direction.

I must confess I was a challenging child.  When someone told me to leap, instead of asking “How high?”, I’d ask why.  And question them about it ad naseaum and argue that there is indeed no reason that I needed to leap.  You could say I was stubborn, but that would be an understatement.   I marched to the beat of a different drummer and saw things in my own way.  My mom was amazing with me.  She knew exactly how to push me just enough to get me to grow, but not so much that I would resist at all costs.

I remember when I decided that the ACT was stupid and a waste of time when I was a junior and all my friends were taking it.  I wasn’t going to go to college anyways, why give up an entire Saturday just to sit in a room taking a dumb test?  Mom in her infinite wisdom just said “Okay.  You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to.  I still think you should just in case you change your mind, but I won’t make you.”  Thank God I came to my senses my senior year.  I took the ACT as soon as I could and still was able to apply to get into college on time.  And I aced the ACT too.

Mom knew that if she made me do it, I would probably bomb it on purpose.  Because I was that kind of kid.  But she let me be so I could come to my senses in my own time.

She drove me and my shaggy haired guitar playing in a band “boyfriend” to homecoming my freshman year.  And took me and my friends to see him play gigs.  And never made a single negative comment the whole time about him.  My mom might just be the least judgmental person on the face of the earth.  She has a way of just accepting people for who they are.  I mean, you have to actually BE a jerk to my mom for her to make a judgement about you.

And when I was a little kid, just like Jane Goodall, I was obsessed with animals.  If it slithered, hopped, walked, or crawled, I was interested in it.  And most of this creepy crawly things ended up in our house at some point.  We had tanks with salamanders in them, baby raccoons, kittens, birds, snakes, toads, frogs, turtles, the list goes on and on.  She was just as interested in them as I was.  Never told me that toads would give me warts.  (That was a favorite line of my Grandma’s).  She was never grossed out.  She encouraged me to take my interest in animals and do whatever I wanted to do with it.  She always raised me with the expectation that I could do ANYTHING I put my mind to.

Would she have moved to Africa to live in a tent with me for four months?  I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she would.

I have realized since becoming a parent how hard a job parenting really can be.  I don’t say it enough.  Thank you Mom.  You are doing a great job.  I don’t know what I would do without you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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