Years ago I saw a comic strip that featured a dad teaching his son to play football. Each panel, as the boy grows older, his father is coaching him on skills and techniques. Finally, the boy is depicted playing for a college team and makes a big play. When the TV camera zooms in on him, the boy says, “Hi, Mom.”
No disrespect to dads, but every day – not just on Mother’s Day – moms hold a special place in our hearts.
The job description for “Mom” is long and convoluted: She is a nurse, custodian, teacher, short-order cook, seamstress, psychologist, CEO, taxi driver, conflict resolution specialist and financial planner. Mothers – and grandmothers and great-grandmothers – also are eternal springs of knowledge, as well as love.
My sister, Dana Johnsen, remembers that our great-grandmother, Lilas McCudden, always said, “When your children are little they pull on your apron strings and when they’re grown they pull on your heart strings.”
Dana recalls that our grandmother, Hazel Carr, “was known for checking the toes of my children’s shoes. She’d shuffle through her purse to get some cash and inform me of who needed new shoes. I would graciously thank her for the help and her response was … ‘(R)emember to help someone else.’ And now as the grandmother to three little boys, I check the toes of their shoes and shuffle in my purse.”
The lesson Brandi LaCasse remembers most from her mom, Toni Pirtle, “is that you must be kind to others, first and foremost. Being kind to people and working hard gets you a long way in life.” Toni also stressed the importance of family. “Your family is always there for you and comes before just about anything else,” Brandi said.
Sarah Nail learned a lot from her mother, Sherlyn, who she called “a woman of deep faith and principle.” One of those lessons centered on the meaning of hard work.
“Like many young Sedalians, my first job was at a concession stand at the Missouri State Fair,” Sarah told me. “I was 14. I hated it. My co-workers, who traveled with the concessionaire, and the trailer where we worked were not well kept. I wanted to quit after my first day. I cried. My mom wouldn’t let me quit. She told me that I could do anything for 14 days, and encouraged me to change what I didn’t like about my work conditions. The following 13 days I cleaned that filthy trailer from top to bottom. It earned me a handsome cash bonus and a guaranteed job the following fair.
“This experience influenced the work ethic I have today,” Sarah continued. “Hard work is gratifying, and it comes with great rewards.”
Sharon Sullivan has shared a lot with her daughter, Kari Mergen, including:
• Cherish the friendships you have with your girlfriends; they’ll help keep you sane and are the best form of therapy.
• Pick your battles with your children, and remember the big picture when getting upset with them about something.
• Take time to enjoy sunrises and sunsets.
Kari’s 11-year-old daughter, Matti, also has picked up some knowledge from Sharon: “If a boy doesn’t like you for you, then he is not worth it.”
As mothers of daughters themselves, Dana, Brandi, Sarah and Kari have their own messages to impart. Brandi wants to ensure that her daughter, Libby, knows that kindness and family “are values that will always have a place in the world and will always be the foundation for success.” Dana’s daughters Susan and Rachel got the message loud and clear from our mom, Lilas Satnan, that education matters; both have earned bachelor’s degrees.
Kari said her messages for Matti are to “stop wishing you looked like someone else or wishing people liked you as much as they like someone else. Stop trying to get attention from those who hurt you. Stop hating your body, your face, your personality, your quirks. Love them. Without those things you wouldn’t be you, and why would you want to be anyone else? You’re perfect.”
Sarah plans to echo those encouragements of family, kindness and education to her daughters, Molly and Vivian. She also wants them to embrace diversity (“Thankfully we are all different. We can learn from each other in wonderful ways.”) and not feel boxed in based on others’ expectations.
“I could go on, and on, and on, but one of the most important things I want my daughters to know is this,” Sarah said. “Life is fluid. It is ever changing. Tough times – sadness, heartache, strife, fear, grief – these feelings will not last forever. At the same time, those moments of joy and happiness will also come and go. Appreciate and savor these moments for they too will not last.”
Bob Satnan is the communications director for Sedalia School District 200.