Happy Mother's Day! To all mothers and mothers to be out there - I hope today is a joyful one, filled with celebration, laughter, and love. Anytime I think of mother's day, or father's day, valentine's day, teacher appreciation week, etc, I realize we don't celebrate those that matter to us enough. Let today be a reminder to not only celebrate our mothers, but also to appreciate all those we care about in our lives on a regular basis. We will never regret the things we say if they come from the heart, but we will always regret the things we don't do or don't say. So, today, and everyday, take the time to appreciate someone you care about and let them know about it!
I realize I haven't actually said some of these things to my mother, so today, publicly, I'm thanking her for three important lessons she's taught me and am passing them on to you!
1. Just do it. No, my mom doesn't work for Nike, but she sure is great at living their brand. My mother encouraged me to go for anything - to reach out to anyone, and to do just do it. She was the one that taught me to apply to jobs that weren't posted or didn't exist yet. She would encourage me to do my research, reach out to people I admired, contact organizations I wanted to work for, and see if there could be a way that I could be of service to them. Every job I've had (except for when I was a bartender at Applebee's) I received because I took the initiative and reached out, not because I searched for job postings and went through the typical application process.
I still carry this with me and share this with all my students. My mom says: "What's the worst that will happen? You don't hear from them, or they say they're not interested. And if you didn't reach out in the first place, it's like you already said no to yourself. Let them be the ones to say no. But what if they say yes?" She's right.
Go for what you want, do your research, and reach out to those you want to meet, you want to work with, and the ones you want to help.
2. The power of play: I will never forget one brutal winter in Vienna, Austria, when my brothers and I were feeling down because we were stuck inside our apartment. My mother put on her bathing suit, turned up the heater, laid out some beach towels on the floor in the hallway and pretended like she was catching some rays. We were bewildered. She invited us to join her at the 'beach'. We smiled. She then offered to bring us some beach drinks (after all with the little heater cranked so high, it was quite hot). That's when she hooked us. She told us to get our bathing suits on and off we ran to put on our suits. We all 'laid out' on our towels and imagined we were under the hot sun on a wonderful warm sunny beach day, drinking our cold drinks with straws, and fancy little paper umbrellas my mom had from a left-over dinner party.
My mother, with some creativity and imagination, brought us on a playful journey and completely transformed our moods. We bought into the experience, we fully participated, our spirits were lifted, and it's a day I forever cherish as part of my childhood experience. This is just one example of many, when my mother used her creativity and imagination to play with us. She is the reason I became fascinated with play and theatre as a learning medium, since one can be transported to any time, any place, and become anyone.
3. The importance of humor. My mother is hilarious and reminds me to not take things too seriously. I cherish those moments of being silly with her! I remember a time where she had the unfortunate case of the runs, and would even say: "Ah, this is a bunch of crap!" I couldn't help but laugh! She would laugh too. My mom has inspired me to use humor in my classroom. Laughter unites a group.
I remembered the power of humor on Friday, as my students were on their fourth and final day of standardized testing and they were silently waiting for the time to run out. They looked miserable. All had finished but were sitting in silence. But instead of telling them testing was over, I began writing on the board. At first, I wrote what was happening next, what classrooms they would go to as we were following a special schedule, and then, I smiled, and I wrote what had happened to me two days prior. I wrote:
"A dog bit me two days ago." I turned around to see a few kids smiling and few kids looking concerned. I smiled.
"This dog bit me in my bottom." They were desperately trying to hold in their laughter.
"And this dog, tore my jeans open and actually punctured the skin." After each sentence, I looked at the kids, wiggled my eyebrows, grimaced and smiled again. These 7th graders were still silent but they were all smiling and bursting at the seams.
Then I wrote: "Today, my car had a flat tire." And then I wrote: "Uber". I reacted to each sentence on the board physically in silent pantomime. At this point kids were chuckling and time was up.
Now these statements were all true! I was bitten by a dog a few days ago, and I did have a flat tire! And while those instances might have been painful or upsetting at the time, I learned from my mother to find humor in all situations. When I finally told them we could start talking again, we were able to laugh about it all together. I encouraged them to stay positive and appreciate things in life, especially when they encounter obstacles.
Humor is so important - real laughter is contagious and just spreads happiness in the room. Plus, laughing burns calories and could even help you live longer - it's just good for you! So thank you, mom, for all that you've taught and continue to teach me. I love you.
What have you learned from your mother? If you're a mom, what do you hope your kids will learn from you?