Saturday, October 25, 2008

Make a note

I was raised by a mother who was a very wise woman, with a keen understanding of human nature. That, combined with her ability to find common ground with most people that crossed her path, made her a person that people often sought for advice. Many a time, friends would come home with me after school, and before we could get settled in up in my room, listening to records or doing whatever junior or senior high girls did at the time, I would find my friend at the kitchen table with my mom, having a cup of tea, deep in conversation. I have one friend who recalls this as one of her fondest memories of my mom.

Willa Cather describes one of her characters, Neighbor Rosicky, as someone who had "a talent for loving people. It's like an ear for music or an eye for art." It's just part of who they are. I think my mother was like that. Not that she got along with everyone she knew. If she didn't hit it off with someone, or if we were having a problem with someone, her advice was to "give them a wide berth." No sense setting yourself up for an altercation.

But for the most part, my mom just had a way about her that made people feel comfortable and they would easily confide in her. They sought her advice. And she always seemed to know just what to say. There was an occasion in our family when my brother's best friend had his fiance came to town, not knowing how to tell her before she got here that he was breaking up with her. The news came out of left field for the young woman and she was a mess. The boys decided that my mother should take the girl to the airport, and the poor girl sobbed all the way there. I wish I had been a fly in the car and could have heard the words of encouragment and advice my mom would have had for her.

My mom had quite a psychology about raising kids. For one thing, she knew that the more she repeated something, the less likely we would hear her. And she didn't like repeating herself. So, instead of telling us the same thing over and over, she took to writing notes. Her signature black magic marker and masking tape became very common place in our house. On the freezer in the basement, "Make sure door is shut all the way." On the jar for bandaids in the closet, "Put lid back on." On the toilet, "Jiggle handle." The kitchen scissors were tagged with "Kitchen" and God help us if she found them somewhere else.

When I set up my own household and had my kids, I always listened to my mom's advice, because I knew that it contained words of wisdom that would help me create a home for my family like the one she made for us. She would tell me, "make it easy on yourself." Put things where you use them most, have a system, it doesn't have to be fancy, just common sense. The kitchen shears were not only labeled, but had their own hook under the kitchen cabinet, so they were within easy reach and we didn't have to go digging in the drawer for them.

One of the ways she made it easier for herself was writing notes. I don't remember being nagged as a child. Yes, I was reprimanded, I wasn't always happy with what I was told to do or not do, but I can honestly say I wasn't lectured or nagged. My parents had better ways of getting their messages across. And for the everyday, menial, reminders, my mom's method was to write notes.

I'm trying to apply this more in my own home. By now, my kids have heard just about everything I have to remind them about at least a gazillion times. I don't think they hear me anymore. At least not the words. But it's human nature to be curious enough to see what a note has to say, so I've taken to leaving them little notes, either instructional or sometimes with some words of praise. Perhaps, without shouting in their ear, they'll come to listen to what I have to say.


Diane@Diane's Place said...

I wish I could say that I never nag or yell, but I can't. Our whole family tends to be loud and boisterous.

But my Mom sounds a lot like yours. I only hope to be a fraction of the Christian woman my Mama was.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Like you, I've seen you around the blogging "neighborhood". ;o)

Have a great Sunday!



Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

First of all, what a beautiful post about your mom. I wish that I could be that kind of person.

Secondly, that's a fabulous idea about the notes. I know that I tend to ignore things when I feel nagged...I can't wait to try this with the kids!


Jen said...

Your mother would be so proud. And reading this even though I have not met reminds me alot of you. You are a good a mother and friend. I'm sure this was hard to write.
Someone once told me...dont complain about your mother or father...once they are gone...they are will regret everything you did or said I remember this when mom is picking on me (for the best reasons) I look the other way....or pick and choose my comes with age also I believe.
Great post on your mom.....she is smiling from heaven...have a good Sunday...I'm headed to Nashville to see new life....

Renna said...

What a truly honorable legacy your mom has left behind!

I discovered the note thing when my oldest (son) was in his early teens. He didn't seem to pay much attention to me when I told him the things I wanted him to do, then when they didn't get done, he'd claim not to have heard me. I realized early on that the excuse was just that, an excuse!

I figured out that by leaving lists taped to his door made him totally accountable. He could neither claim forgetfulness, or having not heard. It worked wonders.

I've since discovered that writing is a good source of communication when a a situation has arisen with someone who you need to really 'have it out with', so to speak, when it's someone who's hard to talk to, tries to talk over you, or dismisses what you're trying to express as "it's not a problem". When you write someone a note, letter, or e-mail, they are forced to hear everything you have to say. As you said, curiosity will force them to read what you said. You don't have to worry about your words getting twisted around, being talked over, or ignored.

BClark said...

You were a very lucky lady to have such a wise and loving Mother. What is also wonderful is that you realized it.
As to your color, I googled that and found a site called In that site the color does look more tan. But I still like your happy color.

Judy said...

Such a fabulous post, Karen!

This week my husband and I are traveling to Wisconsin to visit with an aunt and uncle we adore. I miss my 'real' mom, and my aunt helps her to feel close (even though i just saw my mom on friday, she just isn't there anymore).

diana said...

your mom sounds like a wonderful person. the kind i'd like to be. and i'm sure you are a lot like her.

i can see how the note thing would work. great advice.

Bill said...

I really enjoyed reading this! You & I have noted before how similar our moms were. They were both gone so suddenly. I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately because it was ten years ago this past weekend that she died. But the good news for both of us is that we have happy memories of these wonderful women that will last.

gail@more than a song said...

I enjoyed this post Karen! I too wish I could say I never nagged my kids but alas, I think I did! Your mom sounds like she used the original "sticky" notes! I love that idea....I did label my kitchen scissors a few years ago and it helped some but they still disappear from time to time.
Hubby has told me his mom would write letters when she got upset or mad about something, never to mail but would leave them where he might find them! Don't think they have ever discussed it before though so I wonder if she knows he found them!