One Small (Lifelong) Lesson My Mom Taught Me

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My mind was being blown. I was 23, graduated college, sold my first business, and had dedicated myself to traveling for as long as I could. New languages, new places, new people; every day seemed to be a new revelation.

On a short stint home after returning home from Southeast Asia, I was staying with a friend when I came upon this most amazing book. I couldn’t believe it! So deep. So poetic. So…relevant to my life. I stayed up until 4am and read the whole book, cover to cover.

The next morning I drove to my parents house for a visit. I was excited to tell my mom about this book.  She had begun her career as a teacher, and was always excited by new lessons.

“Mom. I have to tell you about this book. You’ll just love it.”

“Great!” She said. “What’s it called?”

“It’s called The Prophet, by a guy named Kahlil Gibran,” I said, in all my youthful enthusiasm. She sat and listened as I told her of the poems on love, and children, and freedom, and wisdom.

“Wonderful!” she said.

And later that day, as I unpacked my gear, she walked over and placed a book on my backpack.  “You can borrow this if you wish,” she told me with a smile.

The book, of course, was a well-worn version of The Prophet. My mom had owned it for years and years; I just never noticed it. She had let me have my moment, and had the grace not to interrupt my vision of a world that was unfolding before me.

I knew enough to be grateful.

That day I began to see my mom differently. She was not just someone who had raised me, and taught me math, and prodded me to be better. She wasn’t just someone who had been a teacher at the beginning of her career – she was my teacher. A real teacher, someone who had, in her own way, traveled the road I was on, before I even knew how to travel.

And now, as a dad, and as the husband to a wonderful mother, I understand a little more about what my mom understood then.  Not just because she had really read the book:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.

But because she was living it.

So on this Mother’s Day weekend, I give thanks for the mamas, and all the lessons they carry.

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