This I Believe

Marisa - Lakeland, Florida
Entered on January 24, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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“There’s no excuse to be dirty. Soap only costs 36 cents!”

Mothers leave their mark, probably when they are least expecting to do so. My mother left many sayings in my head like the one about soap that I can recall. I wonder how she did this – I try to duplicate this with my own children and wonder if I will be one-half as successful as my mom. Her beliefs became my beliefs and the little sayings I hear from time to time make me smile. “Cover up.” “Never lie or cheat.” “Do your best.”

Mom didn’t preach. She didn’t spank. She didn’t insist that I live life the way she thought was best for me. She didn’t judge. She gave me lots of room to voice my opinion. She was interested. She was interested in what I thought and who I was. I try to duplicate the same dedicated focus of interest for my children and, there, too, wonder if I am one-half as good at this as my mom.

“Cover up” meant to dress modestly and in a lady like way. I knew this, but I can’t recall my mom going into great detail about this. “Soap only costs 36 cents” meant there was simply no excuse to walk around dirty or for your kids to walk around dirty or barefoot or without proper clothes or to keep a dirty house for your family. I knew this, too, but again don’t recall my mom going into great detail about this. “Never lie or cheat.” Mom could overlook a lot, but basic honestly and integrity were not something that could be overlooked. I knew this was what was meant. My best was easy to deliver to my Mom. She was one of my biggest fans and I was only a child. “Do your best” meant being independent and taking ownership for my own successes and failures. This, too, I knew without a lecture.

I don’t remember mom engaging in great conversation. Mostly, she would listen – smile and nod and encourage me to go on with what I was telling her. She led me by letting me find my way mostly on my own but with her next to me and though right there next to me, never crowding and giving room. She loved me and this, too, is part of her mark: “I love you with all my heart.”

She continued to be my biggest fan as I moved through my teenage years, went to college, married, and had children of my own. Though she has passed on, mom is with me. She is in my heart and mind. She is a part of me.

How my own children remember me and how I prepare them for their future and for their children’s future is not yet known. They are little and my mark is still forming. My mark is the greatest gift I will give them. This, I believe.