I don’t have specific dreams for my children. I don’t care what career they choose or worry about what they’re personal definition of success will be when they’re older. I just want them to be happy. I want them to have fun, follow their dreams and fall in love with their whole heart. My only worry is whether I’m doing the right things to help them succeed in their happiness. Oddly enough, it was my mom’s seventieth birthday celebration that showed me that it’s not a matter of whether I’m doing the right things; it’s a matter of being authentically me.
My sister and I tried to plan something for my mom for months but nothing felt right until we decided on a gather-the-gifts tour around Owen Sound, lovingly titled Operation Old Lady.
Mom received riddles before the big day so that she knew when to be at my house. When she arrived, we were all gone but there was a clown asleep on our front porch. The clown (played by a most-amazing friend who I now owe dearly) had a horrible case of “Snoozilepsy” and my mom had to sing to wake her up. My mom quietly sang Happy Birthday to Me then moved on to a verse of Home on the Range to no avail. Only when my dad said ‘Well, the sign says sing louder’ did my mom rouse our clown with a belted out version of Jingle Bells. Our Snoozileptic clown tried to read my mom her first clue but having ‘never been to clown college”, she never learned to read (Tessa, you’re brilliant).
When mom and dad arrived at their second stop, the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market, they wore smiles from ear to ear. From there mom had to find the balloons that a few vendors happily allowed us to stash behind their stand with a gift attached. Mom gathered a custom Red Hat sock monkey, some delicious cookies and a bag of the most incredible kettle corn. The best part? Thanks to Tom Pink and Stephanie Hargrave, the entire market stopped and sang my mom Happy Birthday. It was awesome.
There were many more stops and a lot of incredible people that made the day unbelievably perfect. Loretta at Millcreek Chocolates made our cheeks hurt we were all laughing so hard.
It was a day that wouldn’t suit everyone (as one woman made very clear by stating we should have called it Operation Humiliation) but at the end of it mom said that she hadn’t laughed so hard in years, which is exactly what my sister and I had hoped for.
When I was thinking about the craziness of the day, I realized that mom’s celebration exemplified some of the very things I want to teach my kids. And, all of a sudden I understood that my parents never sat me down to teach me the lessons I hold dear today – they lived the lessons for me. They didn’t verbally emphasize that one of the most important things in life is happiness and having fun – they just had a lot of fun together.
My parents didn’t sit me down for rousing motivational speeches about following my dreams but I was around when they talked about starting their own business; I remember going and looking at various properties they were thinking about. It didn’t matter that they didn’t go through with it – they were dreaming it and somehow, even as a kid, that’s what mattered.
When I started to fall for my boyfriend at seventeen years old my parents embraced him. When at twenty we started talking about getting married my parents didn’t mock us or tell us we were too young – my mom said it was a good thing because if we broke up she’d have to adopt him. My husband and I have had so many dreams throughout our years together, some we’ve followed and some we haven’t, but we’re always up for an adventure and we’re laughing along the way.
Sometimes I mess-up, I cry, I laugh, I play, I snark, I joke, I dream and, I am happy. Hopefully that’s what my kids will take with them in life, because if they’re waiting for words of wisdom they unfortunately have the wrong mama.