My mother has always been woman of action. As an 18-year-old newlywed, she walked into a furniture store with $300 dollars of wedding gift money. She walked out with a three-piece bedroom set, mattress, box springs, dinette table/chairs and a pair of end tables.
As she tells it: “Your father and I started out with absolutely nothing, so my mind was made up: I had to get the most that I could for that $300. I just kept asking that salesman ‘Is that the best you can do?’ So you see, it can be done, you just need to set your mind to it.” Setting one’s mind to “get it done” has been one of my mother’s many life lessons to me. She believes that willpower (and a good dose of “people skills”) will take a person a long way in life.
Like many women, lessons from my mother have occurred in many ways an in many places. Oddly enough, the furniture from her newlywed days has come along for the ride as well. Like the “traveling pants” of the sisterhood, that 3-piece bedroom set that she negotiated with “Frantic Frank” all those years ago has been a backdrop against which my most memorable lessons have been drawn.
Those hard woods have witnessed many a mother-daughter conversation about life’s aspirations. When I was a teen the bedroom set stood sentinel to my fretful pleas: “I’m scared. Should I take the leap?” Mom unerringly supported me with, “What’s the worst they could say? They’ll say ‘no’. Would that be so bad?” Her attitude helped me see that daring to step out of my comfort zone wasn’t a huge deal. It was part of life.
My mother also supported my dreams. Whenever I would share a new opportunity that I’d been presented, her first reaction was always “Oh honey, how exciting; that sounds wonderful!!” Never was this more apparent than when I took my first job in Milwaukee after college. There were no tears from her, no unspoken recriminations for moving six hours away. She put my dream—to be a career woman—first. She and my dad helped me pack and sent me on my way . . . with their bedroom set. It had resided in my parents’ room for nearly twenty years and now it was bequeathed to me, on the move, ready to provide rest for a young woman starting out on her own.
And now, I’m a mother. The end tables and dinette from the 1960’s are long gone, but the bedroom set remains, steadfast in its support of the joys and sorrows of life. It lives on in my daughter’s room, now refurbished in child-friendly maple laminate counter tops and darling bun feet. It sits, as it has in the past, witnessing the dreams of an upcoming generation. I pass by my daughter’s bedroom and hear my mother, who is visiting from out-of-town: “Who cares how you dress?” It’s who you are in the inside that counts, honey. You can be anything you want to be. . .” And so it continues . . . the next chapter of the motherhood story . . . passing on encouragement, daring young girls to dream and most of all to do.
Mother’s Day is this weekend. I’ll visit with my mom, who lives a few hours away. As we often do these days, we’ll reminisce. Who knows, maybe the “traveling bedroom set” will show up in an anecdote or two. No matter what, I’ll be sure to give thanks to the woman who dared to me be bold and to do what it takes to make dreams come true.
This post was inspired by the book Dare, Dream Do, by Whitney Johnson.
Discussion: If you enjoyed this post and want to share stories of your aspirations and achievements, please leave a comment: how did a significant woman in your life dare you to dream?