Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there! I have had a life blessed with the examples of many incredible moms between my grandmother, mother, my friends’ moms, and now, even many of my friends. Today however, I still prefer to focus on the one special woman I get to call mom.
I have learned a lot from her over the years, from how to pee in anything other than my own pants to how to do a triple pirouette or keep a 2000 square foot house clean. Her advice and examples have been never ending and I like it that way. To list everything I have learned from her would be exhausting for me and boring for you, but instead, I am going to share with you five of the most important and dynamic things my mom has taught me.
My mom has taught me to listen, to listen well and listen actively. Many people say that listening involves being present and not talking while the other person talks, but my mom has taught me it is so much more. Active listening involves being present only to the person you are listening to; devoting all of your time, energy, and brain power to them. This is hard, and to be honest, I often suck at it. It is possible though. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually possible to focus all of your attention on one thing. Our bodies are actually designed to function without any effort on our part (breathing, blood flow, digestion) so really, with just a little effort, you can actually devote all of yourself to something or someone, and sometimes that something should be listening to that someone.
I have experienced this gift of my mom’s for my whole life, and I am trying to learn from it. I like to think I have improved but I have a ways to go still.
When my mom listens she is fully yours and you can feel it. She makes little noises or gestures to remind you that she is still listening, that you and your words are still her focus. She listens to what you’re saying and you can see and feel her processing and problem solving. She takes it in and she processes and considers what she would do, then she reconfigures to consider what you would do, and sometimes, only sometimes does she share that with you. She used to share her advice more often, but this has decreased over recent years, and often she only shares advice when asked directly, or offers it but graciously accepts to stay silent if that is your preference, which brings me to the next thing she has taught me.
My mom has taught me how to take corrections. This may sounds silly to you, but let me explain. This particular lesson has made the list because over my short life thus far I have seen time and time again how this skill has allowed me to advance and thrive in many ways.
As a little girl my mom taught me how to take corrections in a dance class. She taught me to listen to what was corrected, not argue, and then work to improve or change. She also taught me to not only work on the corrections given to me but also to corrections given to others. In a ballet class corrections are sometimes given to the class as a whole, at other times, individual students are focused on for certain corrections. My mom taught me to listen to these corrections as closely as I did to my own, and work to improve on all areas.
As an adult, this lesson has stayed with me, and allowed me to graciously and without offense or defensiveness accept corrections from others, whether they are professional or personal. Let me tell you, this is hard, especially when they are personal. I have seen my mom do this through the years, and the comfort and peace I have had knowing that I can be honest and open with her about her shortcoming or ways she challenges me has allowed me a stronger and deeper relationship with her. A few years ago my mom used to jump to share advice or concerns with my brother and me but we were able to openly discuss it with her, and she took the correction, no drama, no hurt feelings. Just as if I had asked her to point her toes or open her hip in that develop.
Well with all of this dance talk, I guess I should also give her credit for that. My mom taught me how to dance, literally, and figuratively. From the time I walked I danced. She taught me ballet, and modern, she taught me how to use my body, and how it moves. She taught me how to make movement beautiful and what movements looked awkward.
When I was younger and dancing seriously I used to hate that my mom knew dance. After classes and performances all of the other moms told their daughter they were “beautiful” “perfect” my mom told me to lift my chin here, or watch my shoulders there. Part of me hated it, but she made me the dancer I was.
In dance she taught me to love one thing with all of me. I still have never found anything that makes me feel how dancing does.
My mom taught me how to cook, and if you have ever been treated to a meal at the Allard house, you know what an incredible teacher I have had.
What is special about it though is that my mom taught me to love cooking, to love exploring in the kitchen. Cooking to her, and now to me, is so much more than a recipe. I grew up watching my mom sew and she rarely ever used just one pattern. She would site at the dining room table piecing together patterns to make exactly what she wanted. She is no different in the kitchen; reading through recipes, mixing a piece of this one with a piece of that, and the result is never disappointing. I love the kitchen. And while I said I have never found anything that has given me the feeling I have when I dance, I have found a certain escape, freedom, and joy in the kitchen.
Let go, have faith
Most importantly, my mom has taught me that sometimes, you have to let go of a dream and have faith for something better. As a teenager, when I faced letting go of dance I was terrified, I hated the idea of my life without dance, and I couldn’t fathom my identity without it. My mom was there, every step of it, reminding me that sometimes you have to set your dream aside and be open to what is in store. It took me years to realize how well she understood.
Just over 30 years ago my mom gave up her dance career in New York City to move to Cazenovia NY with my dad to finally start a family. Exactly 30 years ago my brother Matt was born. My mom’s transition from dancer to mom was not smooth or rapid, but it happened. She had faith that it would, and if you ask me, the blessings that have come from it are pretty spectacular. Two of them in particular!
So every time I am afraid or reluctant to let go of the dream I have for an unknown replacement, I think about what I learned from her willingness to do so. To be honest, if she hadn’t let go of her dream back then, I wouldn’t be here to think at all!
So basically, I am one lucky girl, with one incredible mom for these reasons and so many more.
I love you Mom, I love everything you have taught me so far, every laugh and cry we have shared. I am so excited to see what I will learn from you next, and so blessed that I get to do so.