Thursday, September 20, 2012

Life's Lessons From a Virgo

Mama Virgo making notes in Baby E's journal on the day of his birth. She is the Queen of Documentation.

Today is Mama Virgo's birthday. She will be sixty-ish. She doesn't dye her hair, wear high heel shoes (or even dresses...seriously...last year she cleared her closet of every dress and skirt she owned and gave them away), paint her fingernails, cook (except she makes a MEAN filet and her mac and cheese isn't half-bad either), or drive the speed limit. But I love her for everything that she's not, as well as everything she is. And now that I'm a mom, too, I can appreciate even more the sacrifices she has made, the late hours she has kept, the attitude she has endured, and the heartbreak she has experienced over the past 34 years. Happy Birthday, Mama Virgo! Here are just a few of the lessons you've taught me over the years that I hope to pass down to our son: (Mama Virgo loves a list, too)

  • Don't let the trash build up in your car. If it came in with you, it goes back out (this saves on any embarrassment one feels when someone not related to you gets in for a ride). 
  • Time is money. If it's going to take you an absurd amount of time and you hate doing it anyway, considering making it a financial priority to pay someone else to do it. I feel this way about oil changes, clothing alterations, and computer repair. I will clean my own house, cook my own meals, make my own jewelry (obviously), and wash my own car...but please do not ask me to get intimate with the undercarriage of my Pathfinder. 
  • It ain't always about you. Oh LAWD this one was a hard one for me to learn. I'm an only child so, really, a lot of the time it was all about me. Especially at Papa and Granny's. But at home, I had to learn that I was not going to be consulted on every decision and that sometimes I would hear "no." E may not ever hear "no" at Big Mama's (it's her turn to do the spoilin' now), but it's my job to remind him that it ain't always about him. 
  • If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right (but not necessarily perfectly). Perfection was never the ideal, but laziness wasn't tolerated. Don't bring home C's when I'm fully capable of B's (except in math, where we all danced in delirious joy if I got anything above a D), when making breakfast, don't leave the dishes in the sink and the butter sitting on the counter, be sincere when writing inside a greeting card, dust under stuff...and on...and on...(related: Put stuff back where it came from and Don't be afraid to throw stuff away.)
  • Be Generous But Don't Be a Doormat. Mama Virgo is constantly saying yes. To mission projects at church and my pleas to drive down for the weekend and to the neighborhood kids selling wrapping paper at her door (which qualifies her for sainthood because who the crap wants wrapping paper? Now, if the schools sold Chardonnay...). She is generous with her time and her money. But she also has very strict boundaries that protect her from getting abused. Over the years, I've built my own fences (they aren't walls, but they do keep people out)...but only after getting used up and thrown out. I hope to teach E that it's an act of love to say yes, but sometimes it's an act of self-preservation to say no. 
  • Life is too short to drink bad wine, read boring books, build up vacation days, skip holidays with the family, and procrastinate happiness. Nuff said. 
  • It's OK to not put it on Facebook. Somehow, I think this one is going to be one of the more important lessons for E as he grows up in this digital age. Perhaps he and Mama Virgo should have a Come-to-Jesus on this one when the time is right. 
  • Life Isn't Fair. Another desperately difficult one for me to learn. To this day, when I think about the 2 little boys that should be living in the house, I have to remind myself that life isn't fair. But I've heard it for as long as I can remember. And however painful it is to be reminded, it's worth repeating. It made the sting of getting picked last in gym (and every injustice since) a little more palatable. 
  • Document, document, document. As the above picture demonstrates, Mama Virgo believes in documenting for our future generations. It's important to save scraps from moments in time (related: it's equally important to know what's a scrap and what's trash). She has saved all of my baby blankets, the newspaper from when UK won the National Championship the year I was born, report cards, voice recordings, and VCR tapes from middle school basketball games. It's no wonder I rushed right out and bought the newspaper the day after Obama was elected and I've kept journals since the 6th grade.
  • Above all, show love. Mom has always shown me love. Even when I slammed the bedroom door so hard it shook the walls...even when I moved away and got engaged to a man who made her blood boil (not Neal. Her love also helped show me the error of that way. She adores Neal. She sometimes asks about him before she asks about me). But she also shows love to others. She may not agree with their viewpoint or understand their motives, but she doesn't see that as a reason to show hate or disrespect. Everyone is deserving of our love. Even those f*ckers at Westboro Baptist. Even them. You need a lot of God in your life to show that much love. She's got God.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. You just can't bullet-point everything your mom teaches you.  And she is much more than a well-traveled, well-spoken, southern mama. But if I can just pass even a little of her wisdom and gentle spirit on to our son, I will consider it a good day.


  1. It's easy to see what a good person Mama Virgo is ... look at the daughter she raised. Loving things to say on her birthday. Happy Birthday, Mama Virgo!!

  2. I have heard rumors about the wrapping paper kids but have never seen them in person. Yes. Your mother qualifies for sainthood :)

    She is awesome. And I love this post.

    Love this one. So much: Life is too short to drink bad wine, read boring books, build up vacation days, skip holidays with the family, and procrastinate happiness.

    Hope you have a wonderful Shana-filled weekend. Please take lots of pictures! XOXO

  3. Love it! She is so right on everything... You will still find things you admire and appreciate about her the old baby E gets. :) Love you girlfriend.

  4. I distinctly remember doing the exact same thing with my bedroom door. Really looking forward to the teenage years! Aren't you?

    I think it's wonderful that you have a mother who models class, strength, dignity, intelligence, and faith. You two seem so very close, and that's definitely something to treasure. Happy Birthday to Mama Virgo!

  5. Looks like you and I are on the same blogging schedule. Your Mom is one classy lady!


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