One of the things that I think will be helpful to share in this blog is a post about my mother, Rita Peters. Her legacy is so instrumental in how I am raising my children that the air is thick with the heaviness of the mantle she left us to carry.
I’ll start with saying my mother transitioned to heaven after a 10-month battle with stage 4 uterine cancer on March 21, 2016. A testament to her unwavering strength, she had cancer for a while (undiagnosed), but still managed to be at my younger sister’s wedding in May 2015 because she knew that “she had to do for one as she did for the other (her words).” Meaning, she knew we would both have a fit if she did something for one sister and not the other one. So this amazing woman put off dying (or at least being really sick) because she knew my sister would say, “Hey! that’s not fair..mom was at your wedding and not mine!” I have to chuckle as I type this, but my mom was a G like that 🙂
**My beautiful mother and gorgeous sister pictured above on her wedding day in May 2015**
There is so much to type about the mother and the awesome human being she was. In her 60 years on this earth, most people who met her were blessed to know her. Her funeral was attended by hundreds of people – it was standing room only! In her professional life, she was the Superintendent of a Women’s Diversion and Detention Center in the Virginia Department of Corrections. In her spiritual/church life, she was a counselor who helped countless “hurting women” overcome adversity, abuse, addictions and so much more. Overall, she was a woman’s woman. And she was a mother who excelled at mothering. So many of the techniques and principles she taught me, I strive to instill into my children.
Here are a few guiding principles she left me with.
- Work Ethic – My mother taught me and my sister the value of working hard and a job well done. In everything, she strove for excellence. She was a consummate perfectionist. She also gave us confidence in our natural intelligence. A funny story about her was if there was some area in grade school that we were struggling in, she would simply say, “you’re smart….figure it out.” And then she would expect you get no less than a B in the subject! And because high expectations were the norm, we just did it. The confidence she had in us, we almost took for granted. We didn’t struggle, we didn’t doubt, we just simply accomplished what she believed we could do (and more). In her opinion, God had given us the talent, so my mom just ensured we owned it and walked in it.
- Compassion, Grace and Forgiveness – This is an area where I probably learned the most for my mom. I’ve always had high expectations from my friends and classmates as I grew up. I didn’t tolerate if someone did me wrong, lied to me or betrayed me (as much as one could do that in elementary and middle school). I guess it was my innate Scorpio nature. My mom, believing we were all new creatures in Christ, led me to shy away from this natural instinct. Instead, she let me know that my friends were sometimes fallible and capable of making mistakes. And that it was my job to restore my brother or sister, forgive them if they’d wronged me and show them some grace and mercy. Ha, mercy? I would think haughtily. They did WRONG by me and it was my job to ensure they paid the price which I guess was a loss in my friendship? Or at least the cold shoulder for a little while. An eye for an eye, right?! My mom would just look at me and my sister and tell us to reserve our judgement for ourselves. I am so thankful for this lesson because there were many friends over the years that I would have cut off on a whim…all because they would do something that I would deem was incorrect. My mom would tell us – that is your friend! Forgive them, restore them and love them. Her favorite line was, “I’ve invested too much time and money in these friendships! Picking you all up, taking you to the movies, etc. I am vested! You need to make up and be friends!” I would often think, this lady is crazy – why does she care about this? But there was a bigger lesson I was missing at the time. I’m so glad I listened to her and learned to meet people where they were. I’m still working on it….but I know it’s importance, because of my mother.
- The love of family – My mom has always instilled in me the importance and love of family. Whether it’s inviting cousins over to spend the night or volunteering our home to host our annual Thanksgiving and/or Christmas celebrations, my mom was on it. She attended each and every family member’s high school and college graduations, parties or celebratory events, if it was in her power to make it. This is an area that I have fully embraced and even extended to friends. My friends are now also my family. It is nothing to open my home, host loved ones and break bread. This is one of my most treasured lessons from her.
- The love of God – This is the gift that keeps on giving, even in my mom’s absence. She taught my sister and I to have an amazing relationship with God and for that I am truly grateful. How can you ever thank someone for giving you the gift of Amazing Grace? Faith? Eternal Life? You cannot…
- Always do the right thing, even when no one is looking – I think this one speaks for itself. Integrity is a critical characteristic that my mom never compromised on. Once she dedicated her life to Christ, I never EVER heard her curse around us one time. She also never drank or smoke once she made that commitment. And to me, it’s not about necessarily what she didn’t do, but who she was at all times that sticks out to me the most. She was who she said she was, period. She walked the walk and whatever convictions she had, she lived them out in church on Sunday as well as in the home – Monday through Saturday. She did the right thing, always – even when no one was around to witness it. While I don’t have that down perfectly, those are large shoes that I am trying to fill, one day at a time.
- The Sanctity of Marriage – There is so much to say here, but I’ll keep it simple. I got to witness a loving marriage, up close and in person that lasted just shy of 37 years. Sure there were ups and downs, especially before my parents got married and maybe even in the early years of their actual marriage, but I had a front row seat to an amazing partnership. One that I am blessed to try to model each and every day of my life.
- Vacation – I think you’ll see evidence tenet of this in my last blog. One thing my mother left me with was “you must take at LEAST one week-long vacation per year!” Words to live by! In fact, another area where I have taken the liberty to expand further- I try to do two weeks per year – one weel away with my Husband and one week away with the whole family (kiddies included).
- Be Silly – Maybe this should be number 1? My mom, in all of her seriousness, was literally one of the funniest women I knew, period. She had a hilarious sense of humor and could cut you down with her smart wit in a high-pitched voice, followed by belly laughter. So much so, she had a ton of sayings that my sister and I coined, “Rita-isms.” We went through a list of them at her homegoing service in case the masses weren’t familiar with that side of her. My favorite one that I use in my daily repertoire is “Careth Not!” And it means exactly what it says – it’s when you just simply don’t care about what the person is telling you. The comedic timing is key on this one, as is the high-pitched voice delivery. Someone has to be pouring their heart out to you, telling you something with pure conviction and unapologetic passion. Then you look at them blankly, and at the right time, you shoulder shrug and say, “Careth not!” Usually the person is taken so off guard, they burst out laughing and it lightens the mood. Of course you care (kinda)….but it’s never THAT serious and that’s what “Careth Not” reminds us of. Don’t ever take yourself too serious..have fun! Be silly and remember, “Who cares?!” Rita certainly did not 😉
These are just a few things that I try to impress upon my kids and keep in the forefront of my mind as I deal with my mommy moments.
Mom, I dedicate my efforts to live this best life to you. I hope you’re proud of the work that I am doing and continue to do, in your honor.
**My mother pictured above, headed to Thanksgiving dinner at one of her brother’s home**