Tag: Blame Genetics

Topic: What I learned from…

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

As we just celebrated Mother’s Day, Ally and I thought it would be appropriate (and nice) to think about what my mother’s (and her grandmother’s) have taught each of us.  My mom…Del, and my “other mother”…Stella (Brian’s mom), both died within the past two years.

Both of them were a big deal in our lives.

And , both of them taught us a lot.

~~~~~~~

I was incredibly lucky to have these two very dynamic mothers in my life.  Both women taught me more by example than through any form of lecture or instruction.  Neither was the type of woman who demanded or directed, but instead encouraged me, held my hand in good times and in bad, and helped guide me toward becoming the woman I am today.

(So if you don’t like me…blame them)

Ahhh…but it’s not that easy… Damn it.

I know I have to take responsibility for who am I (which is one of the things they both taught me).

Damn it.

But they also taught me all kinds of other things, like…

It’s important to become an independent woman:

My mom taught me that independence was about developing your own opinions and being able to stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself, even though (ironically), she was happiest in her dependence on my dad.

Stella taught me to embrace my independent spirit, and yet, don’t be afraid to lean on those who love and care about you.

Be fearless when choosing a career:

My mom didn’t worked outside the home while I was growing up, but was tireless in her encouragement of me to find a career that would challenge my mind and tap into my personal skills.  She taught me that there were many paths I could take, as long as they led in a direction that would allow me to learn and grow along the way.

Stella taught me that no matter how old you are, you can make a contribution to others through work or volunteering.  Shortly after Brian and I were married, Stella went back to work (full time) at the age of 60 in a job that required her to learn a whole new technology (automatic typewriters were just coming into vogue back then).   She was never so vibrant or as happy as she was in that job.  It helped her gain a whole new level of self confidence…and opened up a whole new group of friends that would be with her the rest of her life.

You’ve got to ENJOY your children:

My mom taught me to be a disciplinarian (good manners were a must!) but not to forget to have fun with my kids.  She believed that humor built the strongest ties (with your children…or anyone for that matter).   And spending any time with her…meant a time filled with stories and laughter…and fun.

Stella was also a stickler for good manners, but taught me that there was always time to play a game, work on a project or sing a song with your kids, and if it didn’t seem like you had the time…it was up to you to figure out a way to find it.

Love completes you:

My mom loved her family more than life itself…but she had only one true romantic love.  My dad.  She taught me that love completes you, but be cautious and judicious about who you love.

Stella taught me to be open to love people of all ages, and from every walk of life.  She truly loved her friends and family, and more often than not…her friends became her family.

~~~~~~~~~~

I know that a day doesn’t go by without some life lesson becoming apparent that I learned from one of these two mothers.

They added so much to life and I miss them more than anyone could know.

And luckily, I now have another mother in my life who offers me all of the love and encouragement I could ever hope for (thank you Mary!).  And…I continue to learn from her as well.

What a lucky woman I am to have such wonderful mothers in my life to offer me such wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom – Del, to Stella and to Mary.

Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me.

Mom told me this post is supposed to be about my grandmothers, so I won’t really write about her, because I always usually listen to her.

BUT, I can’t write a Mother’s Day post without saying that she’s amazing.  So, a quick poem:

C is for caring, because she cares about me (and you) a lot.

I is for intelligence, because she’s smarter than your average robot.

N is for not normal, because normal she is not.

D is for dashing, because she’s beautiful and hot.

Y is for y-awesome, because that’s all that I’ve got!

AND NOW, what I learned from my Grammy and Grandma:

Never act your age.

Laugh.

Stand for something.

Wear your seat belt.

Lift your hands up when you’re choking.

Play games.

Grammar is *really* important.

Stay informed.

Candy has no expiration date.  (Just because it hurts your teeth to eat that jelly bean or licorice whip, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.)

Watch old movies.

Say please and thank you.

Send birthday cards.

Take risks in your life.

Make jokes about things that usually make you cry.

Do crossword puzzles.

Sleep is over-rated.

Baking is also over-rated.  (Why bake when you can buy perfectly good brownies in a box?)

Love…

(But some people deserve to be hated.)

I miss my grandmothers.

A lot.

But I’m so thankful that they taught me all of these lessons (and many more that I can’t list here).

(Like seriously, the choking one?  Totally useful.)

Happy Mom’s Day!

(PS: Mom, I was going to put “young” for the “Y”, but I couldn’t make it work.  I want full credit, though.)

I have so many…it’s hard to narrow them all down to the biggest….which probably says more about me than about the peeves themselves.

But given this forum, I will certainly try.

In general, my pet peeves ALL have to do with noises.  Not just any noises.  People noises.

You know.  The kinds of sounds that people make that annoy, disturb and grate on your nerves down to your soul.

Like cracking knuckles.

OMG I hate it when people crack their knuckles.  I physically stop and turn and glare when I hear someone make that sound of bone joints being pushed in a downward motion until they involuntarily crack…out loud.

OY…it drives me nuts.

Some members of my family (you know who you are) would probably be much happier if they were “allowed” to crack their poor innocent knuckles in my presence, but alas…they know it will never happen.   Because it is the most god awful noise on the planet, and I’m not a nice enough person to “let it go” in favor of letting them indulge in something that drives me so insane.

Because it’s really about me.  Duh.

They’ve tried to tell me that they crack their knuckles “unconsciously.”  Like the urge to move the little bones in their hands until they snap, crackle and pop comes over them in some uncontrollable way.

I don’t think so.

If I want to let loose with an ear screeching squeal (like a panicked dolphin call)…of which I’ve been known to do in the presence of “unconscious” knuckle cracking…I do so with absolute intent.  There’s nothing unconscious about it.

So a word to the wise…when you’re near me, don’t crack your knuckles or I might start squealing at the top of my lungs.

Pet peeve #2…Cracking Gum (notice a pattern here).

Who really likes to be around someone who’s cracking their gum?

I mean really.  No one can crack their gum quietly or with grace.  No…it takes a good amount of jaw thrashing to move their gum strategically to the back of their jaws, while forcing an air bubble into the stretchy fibers, and then biting down at just the right moment to achieve the perfect crack.

It’s a disgusting habit that takes years to perfect…and I have to admit it…I’d like to kill anyone whose worked that hard to perfect it.

Really.

I actually almost lost a job once because I leapt over my desk at a co-worker who had been cracking her gum for 4 straight hours.   No warning…just leapt and went for her throat (her mouth actually to rip out the stupid gum) before another co-worker grabbed me and shook me to my senses.

Which brings me to my last biggest peeve.

Sniffing.

Don’t you think that people who sniff should be shot?

There is no reason for it.  We have tissues.  We have sleeves (I know it’s disgusting but it’s better than sniffing!).  So I have absolutely no tolerance for people who sniff.

Unless they’re at a funeral, in which case they get a sniffing pass.

Or they’re really sick with a raging sinus infection and a temperature of over 103 degrees (no less).

Otherwise…there is no excuse for sniffing.

Or cracking your knuckles or your gum.

Here it is.  The post where we talk about all of the things that annoy us, all of the things that make us shudder, the things that that make us silently (usually) judge others…

We all have our “pet peeves”, and I think that a lot of them can be pretty universal.  I don’t think I know anyone who loves people who talk on their cell phones in the movie theater.

(OK, maybe you like that (or DO that), but I’m thinking the majority of people out there tend to be annoyed by it.)

And I also think that the things that annoy us can be passed down from our parents.  At least that’s the case for me.

(I’m not saying that it’s genetic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my loathing for the sound of people chewing or swallowing is programmed into my DNA.)

I grew up with parents who shared their opinions.  For my beautiful, loving mother, that meant we couldn’t get away with ANYTHING that annoyed her.

If we popped our gum or cracked our knuckles, we got a DEATH STARE (every mom has one), and I learned very early on that you don’t want the DEATH STARE.

So I quickly figured out how to avoid it, and soon those things became annoying to me, too.

So I’m betting that most of the things on her list are also on mine.

But in particular:

I can’t stand noises like nose sniffing or throat clearing.

I hate (HATE) hypocritical people.

Snobbery drives me crazy.

And one that’s manifested recently for me is people who share inane, pointless information on social networks.  Sure, I’ve been known to do it myself, but in the last couple of months I’ve become increasingly ticked off by it.  The truth is that I don’t care what you ate for breakfast or who you ate that breakfast with.  It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to severely limit my time online because it was affecting my happiness (and probably my blood pressure)…

Speaking of pet peeves related to social networks: the other thing that annoys me to no end (and I know I’m not the only one), are status updates that are purposefully vague and that beg the question “WHAT HAPPENED???”  For the love of the Facebook gods, people, stop leaving status updates that say “In the ER…” or “My life is over” or “My heart is broken because the man I’ve loved for 13 years did this to me…”  JUST STOP IT.  I know that the ability to share these things (and evoke sympathy) is tempting, but either be explicit (as in “I’m in the ER but it’s because I got a pencil stuck in my ear again, so no big deal”) or keep it off of the internet.

(Ahem.)

I would apologize for the rant, but let’s face it, pet peeves do that to us.  My mom’s stare didn’t happen without passion and fury and all of the pain that the sound of cracking knuckles brings up for her.

Pet peeves make us rant and rave and TYPE IN ALL CAPS and unleash the DEATH STARE…

Passion is good.

And if these stupid, annoying things are what get my blood boiling… well, then I have it pretty damn easy.

Plus, I really, really like typing in all caps…

(PS: If we’re Facebook friends, I’m not talking about your Facebook updates.  Your Facebook updates are always awesome and witty and relevant.)

(PPS: Please still be my friend.)

My folks (especially my mom) had some very definite ideas about child rearing.  When my brother and I were young, there was a certain formality to the way things were done; how we were supposed to act; when we woke/ate/went to bed; and even how we were dressed – that was typical of the times.  Not surprisingly…our dad worked long hours in important jobs (of course), and mom ruled the home (and was the primary disciplinarian).

The “strict” nature of it all came in the form of discipline and manners.  My mom was a no nonsense woman when it came to her children behaving properly.  We were NEVER allowed to talk back, or (God Forbid) utter the word “No” to our parents…EVER.

Of course I tried it…once, and ended up with a mouth full of soapy water.   YUK.

From that point on, the threat of “don’t you say that – or use that tone – to me or I’ll wash your mouth out with soap and water” (lips pierced and wagging her finger at me) took on a true and ominous tone to which I would quickly back down (no matter what).

There were a few “spankings” along the way (until I got too big to fit across my mom’s lap and we both realized how silly the whole thing was) and more than a few banishings to my room.  But nothing much more in terms of actual “punishments.”

The worst was when my mom would get so mad at us that she would send us to our rooms and go to the kitchen and begin emptying the dishes (or pots) from the cabinets and begin washing them all by hand, while yelling at the top of her lungs (to nobody in particular) about how wrong/stupid/rotten we were on that particular occasion.

When the ranting began…we knew we had crossed the line.

As we got older, rules began to be placed on our comings and goings, and I started to feel the strict boundaries that my folks would place around me until I left for college.  You know…the regular things like curfews, restrictions on sleepovers, and the differences in “school day” activities vs. “weekend” activities.

The hardest was the curfew.  I HATED having to be home by 11:00 p.m. (on weekends!) all through high school, but I think I hated the “rationale” for the curfew more than the actual time I had to be home.

“Mom…why can’t I just stay out to midnight like everyone else!?!”

“Because I want to go to sleep at 11:00 and I can’t go to bed unless you’re home.”

“Sure you can…I don’t care if you’re up when I get home.”

I CARE”  “So you’ll be home at 11:00.”  “PERIOD.”

REALLY???? Can parents really get away with that?

You bet.  I did.  (More on that later)

I too was a stickler for discipline and manners (I am my mother’s daughter) as I wanted my kids to be polite and well behaved…mostly so that we could all go anywhere or do anything together without me having to worry whether or not the kids would act out (and because that’s how I was raised).

Oh they had their moments of bickering and snitty tones and slacking off around the house.

But I swear…they were amazingly good kids.

And sometimes I think it might have been despite my parenting.

I yelled a lot, especially when they were young.

I took the whole ranting thing I grew up with and raised it to an art form.  And I regret having yelled at them so much.

Because I think I scared them.

But as my kids aged…I think I figured out how to parent with a modicum of strictness (and yelling) mixed in with a healthy dose of humor and love.

But I still think I was pretty strict (mean).

They had curfews ‘til 11:00 on weekends too.  OK…Ally had it all through high school but I’m pretty sure we relaxed the rules when AJ got there (and I’m sure that inconsistency and lack of fairness will come back to bite me again and again…)

But I don’t think it ruined them.

They’re really wonderful people.

I’ve never been grounded.  (Really.)  But I don’t think that’s because my parents were especially lenient on anything – it was because I never did anything worthy of strict punishment.

I just chose to spend an incredible amount of time in my room.  I didn’t go out.  I didn’t run around after hours.  I didn’t lie.

And this didn’t happen because my parents were incredibly strict, either.

I was just a really, really good kid.

(I have sources to back me up on this.)

The truth is, I never had the desire to push their buttons or take advantage.

(Well, I didn’t really have a desire to actively push their buttons.  Like, I never took the car without asking or climbed out of the window in the middle of the night.  I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of them with the tantrums or typical teenage talking-back and bitching about things…)

I think that I would describe my parents as “laid back”.

They were our friends, but also clearly Mom and Dad.

They yelled sometimes, but I don’t look back on any of my childhood and think, damn, there was a lot of yelling.  I think yelling is just a part of every family.  And compared to other families I knew/know?  Our yelling was extremely tame.

They were never afraid to say “no”, but they chose to say “yes” a lot of the time.  And I think that’s the important part: saying “no” isn’t a bad thing.  Saying “no” is necessary, especially when a kid is young.  I see kids who have zero respect for their folks, and I can’t help but think that it has something to do with how much their parents let them get away with, especially when they’re young.

(I’m not saying to go all Tiger Mom on kids, either, but I think that there’s a balance.)

(My parents were pros at finding that balance.)

I had the normal rules that all kids have.  No making a mess in public, no talking back (I actually did break that rule a lot), manners, curfews…

If I ever had royally screwed up or pushed some boundaries or broken a single rule, then I assume my parents would have punished me in a traditional way (no TV, extra chores…).  Nothing too severe, but I doubt they would have let me off the hook.

When it came down to it, I just never, ever wanted to disappoint them.  I don’t know if that’s something that’s just a part of me – as a person – or if they ingrained that in me from the beginning.

(Maybe they hypnotized me as an infant or something…)

Either way, I’m very happy with how my parents raised me.

(I’m not just saying that.)

If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to raise my own kids in a similar manner.

I want to be friends with my kids, but I also don’t want to let them walk all over me.  I know it’s not easy to pull off, but – lucky me – I’ve got some great teachers.

(Seriously, I’m not just saying that.)

(Or, you know, maybe I just got so traumatized that I’ve blocked a bunch of horrible things out… I guess that’s always a possibility.)