Thanks Mom and Happy Birthday

My mom celebrated her birthday yesterday and while I drove home from her house I started thinking about her advice to me. When I first began writing Mom’s Monday Memo, it was in response to my daughters inability to recall any advice I’d given them. The realization that I hadn’t clearly shared any “words of wisdom” inspired me to write weekly to help them remember those lessons I thought I’d provided throughout the years.

However, when they asked about the most important advice from my mom, I realized that I also drew a blank…not because there were no lessons, but it’s much more difficult to put those life lessons into words than I expected. Yesterday, her birthday made me think about my daughter’s question again; and I realized, like me, she shared lots of daily advice. But the one thing that I had the biggest impact on me was the lessons on organization.

Mom is the definition of organization. She believes in a place for everything and everything in its place. Our house was always picture perfect. Even the “junk drawer” as she called it was orderly.

She taught me the importance of lists. Lists to plan homework assignments or projects, lists of items to pack for vacation, lists of chores to be completed. I most remember writing grocery lists. While she would look through the cabinets and refrigerator I recorded the items on the list. We wrote the list in the order items were found in the grocery…aisle by aisle…a huge time saver. In addition, we estimated the cost of each item on the list to determine how much money would be needed. It was a game to see how close we’d be to the actual cost of the week’s grocery bill and it wasn’t unusual for us to be off by only a dollar or two on a bill in excess of $100.

When a senior in high school I observed another example of mom’s organization skills. She created folders for each college application with all of the required elements as well as a file for all of the financial aid information. Even though the college process was not as complicated in the 70s as it is today, she organized a system to insure we didn’t miss deadlines. This system served me well as a high school student, and it also served me well as the parent some 25 years later. (I even added color coded files to help stay organized through this college application process.)

Finally, when I think of my mom’s advice, I hear these words:

Always look both ways.

You can’t be too careful. (I found this super confusing…”too careful”??? but I finally figured it out.)

Don’t wish your life away. (These words seem more appropriate each day and in fact, I said this to a co-worker earlier in the week.)

Happy birthday, mom and thanks. I don’t practice that – a place for everything and everything in its place – but organization serves me well.