Do THIS For Your Mom on Mother’s Day!

She's still learning "selfies"
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Written by Alison O'Brien

Instead of giving her a Mother’s Day present she won’t use – like the dishes from 1994 or the closet organizer gift card from 2008 – I decided to give her the gift of knowledge…the knowledge that we may be more alike that she supposes.

Instead of giving her a Mother’s Day present she won’t use — like the dishes from 1994 or the closet organizer gift card from 2008 — I decided to give her the gift of knowledge…the knowledge that we may be more alike that she supposes.

“M” is for the Many Things She’s Taught Me…

On the surface, my mother and I have vastly dissimilar DNA:

  • I am very ‘get up and go’; she loves sitting with a good book
  • She is happiest with a spoon and a half-gallon of ice cream; I am deathly allergic to dairy
  • I enjoy peaceful silence; she craves constant chit-chat

My mom and I  sporting our differences

We can be so different at times that, despite giving birth to me, my mom has often said she is unsure from where I came.  

So, instead of giving her a Mother’s Day present she won’t use — like the dishes from 1994 or the closet organizer gift card from 2008 — I decided to give her the gift of knowledge…the knowledge that we may be more alike that she supposes.
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So, allow me to present a list of “Lessons My Mom Taught Me”; in turn, I’ve asked she give a reciprocal gift to me:

Savor the Moment: Go out to eat with my mom and, in the time it takes the rest of us to eat our entire meal, she will have finished maybe 1/3rd of hers.   Why?   Because, between each bite of food, she proceeds to hold an entire conversation – often times, a monologue, as the rest of us are chewing.   It has become a joke within our circle about how long it takes my mother to eat an entree, but it has taught me an important lesson: Savor the moment; there is no need to rush and potentially miss all the flavors life has to offer.

How to Make the ‘Un-Fun’ Things Fun: Chores are no fun…unless you are doing them with my mom.   When I was little, we would play board games and the winner would not have to do the mundane tasks of making the bed or emptying the dishwasher.   Yes, in the time it took to play a game of Sorry or Trivial Pursuit, all the chores could have been completed, but it was way more fun doing it her way.   Lesson learned: Chores need not bore when there is fun in-store.

Wicked SmAHt is Wicked Cool: My mom is a retired teacher and has been a tutor for years.   She speaks several languages, is a news/political junkie and is a beast when it comes to playing Jeopardy.   She is, in our native Boston-speak, ‘wicked smAHt’ and is not afraid to have a brain.   I would guess that, when she was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in a first-generation immigrant family, that a strong-minded, opinionated female may not have been expected.   But, then I look at her role models — her grandmother and mother, her aunts and cousins — and I realize that intellect and education were prized.   The lesson: Knowledge is power; be powerful.

Everyone Has a Story to Tell: Many of my phone calls with my mom involve a detail-heavy story about a person she talked to at the food pantry…on an airplane…while walking at the mall.   I swear my mother talks to everyone, but she enjoys learning about and listening to each and every story.   Now, admittedly, I spend a lot of these conversations rolling my eyes and making those “move it along” motions with my hands, but her ability to get people to talk, and actually listen to what they are saying, is a valuable skill I use in my careers as both a television documentary producer and CEO of my active apparel brand.   If I do not inquire, I cannot be informed: Ask and you shall receive — more than you ever expected.

You’re Never Too Old to Try: I am going to guess my mother does not see herself as a risk taker — she finds it amazing that I travel the world, try new things outside my comfort zone, and drive my car into New York City rush hour traffic.   But, in the past few years, she has decided to take on challenges that I see as equally awe-inspiring — volunteering at the local food pantry and Meals on Wheels; tutoring new students and building relationships with their families; and, on February 28th of this year, competing in and completing her first ever organized 5K race!

On the morning of the race, she stood at the start line, nervous, but raring and ready to go.   I gave her the advice to walk on one side so the faster people could get around her if need be, but when that gun went off, she strode confidently down the middle of the road.   She stood straight, tall and smiling the entire 3.1 miles and, after 42 years of being excited for her kid, she was finally excited for herself.   I could not have been any more proud of her — not just for finishing, but for starting the race in the first place: The only limitations in life are the ones we put on ourselves.    She's still learning "selfies"

Mom — it’s your turn:

Five things I learned from my daughter

As Mother’s day approaches, we fortunate mothers get cards from our children reminding us of the many things we have taught them.   But mothers have also learned so many things from their children…starting with how to change a diaper without crying.   (I’ll leave it to you to figure out who is doing the crying.)

My daughter has taught me so many things through the years (and tried to teach me so many others …I still can’t download songs on my MP3 player!).

  1. Texting can be fast and fun, but caps sometimes indicate yelling.   (WHO KNEW?)
  1. Walking, dancing in the kitchen, any kind of movement can be fun and healthy…even doing a 5k in Arkansas in the cold.
  1. Being open to new things.   I will never be as open as Alison is to trying new things like triathlons, zip-lining, flying to Norway for a 24-hour whirlwind trip, opening a new business, but I can try.
  1. Proofreading. Okay, maybe I did not learn this skill from Alison, but I certainly used it a lot thanks to  her.   My favorites include her Master’s thesis (“don’t touch the content, just fix the typos”) and her friend’s paper, edited on an I-phone while playing a slot machine in CT. By the way, we won!)
  1. Knowing that I am blessed to be  the mother  of this wonderful person!!
    My mom taught me that laughter is the best medicine

    My mom taught me that laughter is the best medicine

Identity  Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the  Identity  5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I am accepting that not everyone works on my schedule, and that their delay can be okay.   Whatever needs to get done will get done…eventually…   This is a tough one for me, but I am trying.

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I do not say it often enough, but I truly appreciate that my parents are always there to cheer me on in whatever I do.   From my dance recitals and band concerts as a kid, to my marathons and triathlons now, they miss very few.   It’s pretty awesome.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

I want to make my parents proud — not by what I do or win, but by who I am.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your  Identity?

I can be impatient sometimes, especially when people do not work at the same speed and with the same sense of urgency as I do (See “Answer #1 — Acceptance”).   I have a daily, detailed “to-do” list and love crossing things off – sometimes, I feel I am in the minority with my family and friends.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)  Identity  challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?

Family!   They are wacky and wordy, friendly and frenetic, but I do love that they are mine.

About the author

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Alison O'Brien

How a Pair of Running Shorts Spurred on My Second Career.

As a veteran television producer and novice athlete, I decided to train for my first marathon in the hopes of finding and funding a cure for the cancer my friend was bravely battling. I spent the 26.2 miles finding fault with the ill-fitting, dysfunctional and certainly unflattering running shorts I was wearing. Seven years, thousands of miles, and even more running 'bottoms' bought, I decided that if I couldn't find fitness fashions I liked, I'd make them myself.

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