Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to be awesome

It's Mother's Day, one of my favorite days of the year because it usually guarantees my whole family will be together - the best gift a mom can get. Over the years Mother's Day gifts from my boys have been some of my most cherished possessions. Photos in popsicle stick frames. Bracelets made of safety pins and beads. Abstract watercolors and clay handprints. 

However, Mother's Day, if you're not a mom but wish you were, is right up there with other Great Disappointments like Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve. And prom. 

The only thing I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother.  I've gotten to do a lot of other wonderful things, but if you took them all away and I never had another opportunity in life, I would point you to Seth, Matt and Ben Worley and tell you I made my significant contribution to the world. I know that's not a politically correct thing to say, but it's true. 

Maybe I feel this way because I have the most awesome mom in the world. 

Whether you are a mother or not, if you want to be awesome, I am about to school you in the ways of Marjorie Carolyn Hyatt Cox:

1. Be stylish. My mother always has been. Not long ago, we looked through slides of mom, dad and baby me in Tripoli, late 1950s when my dad was in the Air Force. My mom looks like a page from Vogue. And we didn't have a ton of money. For most of my life my mom sewed all my clothes, which was not cool to me at the time. "You don't want to look like everyone else," she said. Sigh. Yes, I so did. 

On Friday nights my parents would get all dressed up and go out. They were so glamorous and romantic, as they kissed us good night over our fish sticks. 

2. Be smart. One of the things I admire most about my mother is that she is a learner. She reads all the time.  My mother worked to put herself through college, and she did not take her education lightly, not has she ever stopped learning  She knows all the common and Latin names for plants. She is currently doing exhaustive research in preparation for a trip to Ireland.  My mother loves books, and she taught me to love books. She is a stickler for proper spelling and grammar. 

I was a Camp Fire Girl growing up. (Like Girl Scouts, only with Indian lore.) Mom was our troup leader. I think she enjoyed mastering all the skills, from babysitting certification to camping to citizenship, maybe more than me. 

3. Be interesting. My mother loves the theater. I can still remember the first musical she ever took me to see at age six. It rocked my world. For years mom made all the costumes for school plays and church pageants. Then she became the costume designer for Dallas Repertory Theater. She introduced the "DR Teas", a matinee series of small plays accompanied by high tea.  She also played tennis. Currently my mother runs a tearoom at Rippavilla.  She is a Master Gardener. She has recently taken up lavender farming. 

4. Be a homemaker. My mother's house has always been warm and inviting and full of unique items that she rescued and restored.  And good smells. Two smells that comfort me from childhood:  the smell of her chocolate cake (my brother's favorite) and the Sunday pot roast waiting for us every week after church - thanks to the excellent invention of the automatic oven timer. 

5. Be an advocate. My mother wasn't always easy on me, but she has always been for me. She made sure I had every opportunity to do and learn and grow. She drove me to piano lessons and competitions for 13 years. She encouraged and she disciplined. She told me I was unique (not like "stop eating the paste.") She encouraged me not to compromise. She told me, in the third grade when boys threw dirt clods at me, that they did it because they secretly liked me. (I still doubt that.) She taught me table manners, how to write a thank you note, how to sit like a lady and stand up straight. She told me I was pretty, which helped when boys didn't. 

So if you what to be awesome, ask yourself "What would Carolyn do?"

Take a child to the theater or ballet. 
Read to someone. 
Make family dinner a big deal for the people you love. 
Bake a chocolate cake for someone. 
Plant some herbs and learn their Latin names. 
Look pretty;  it inspires little girls. (And guys like it.)
Help a teenager with their homework. 
Refinish an old trunk. 
Learn to make proper tea. 

I'm pretty sure I just listed stuff my non-mom friends are already doing. So here's to the Carolyn in all of you. You don't have to be a mom to be awesome. 

But it helps to have or know an awesome mom. 

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