May 10, 2014

Under the Influence of Mom

Last spring, to celebrate Mother's Day, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel invited their readers to share memories about their moms relative to gardening and decor. I thought it was a good way to reflect on and appreciate the things my mom has done for me in my life so I took the bait. The responses were then published in their paper on Mother's Day.

She's there in the vintage vase you set on your dining room table. And in the lilacs you pick from the bush you planted together. Moms have a way of leaving their touch on the homes and hearts of future generations. To celebrate Mother's Day, we asked readers to share stories about how their mothers influenced their own decorating or gardening styles. 
As for my mom, I wrote...

My mom is one of those people who seems to have been born with what some would call “effortless style.” This style is apparent in everything she has her hand in…whether it’s her attire, home d├ęcor, preparing family dinners, wrapping gifts, gardening, etc. The result is always pleasing and inviting, never feeling contrived or showy.

When I was about 5 or 6, I began to notice mom’s skill in creating appealing vignettes throughout our home. She placed furniture in ways that invited you to come into the room and sit down. The little odds and ends she found to accessorize the room were placed on tables, shelves and walls in ways that compelled you to examine them more closely. Keep in mind, these were not rare items or fine antiques but rather average furnishings and objects, either purchased at minimal cost, handed down or found at a flea market.
I particularly remember, when I was about 8 years old, watching her arrange items on a wall shelf. The ultimate result was a very pleasing composition, with pieces juxtaposed with one another in a manner that presented them in their most interesting and energetic way. I sat on the couch, fixated on her as she worked…watching her place each item on the shelf: first a ceramic owl, then some books (first standing them up – then laying them down), then an old-looking candle snuffer, and so on, moving the items to various places on the shelf until she was satisfied they were each in their best location. Her attention then focused on how each item was facing - making small adjustments by turning them ever so slightly till they reached their ideal positions. Only after she stepped back away from the shelf a bit to review her work – then adding a small artificial vine as a finishing touch – did she consider the task complete.

Her care was so impressed upon me that later, as I'd go about my household chore of dusting, I’d think of her work and try to place the items back on the shelf or table exactly in the way mom had. To this day, when I set something on a table or shelf or hang something on a wall in my own home, I think of mom and the care and consideration she’d take in its placement.

After decades of contemplating what skill it is that she possesses or process she employs that allows her to achieve these desirable effects, I’ve come to the conclusion that it boils down to the fact that everything that my mom does is done with love.

This Mother's Day, whether you feel your mom (or female caregiver in your life) was good, great or even not-so-great, see if you can think of just one way she's positively influenced how you do something in any area of your own life. Take all the time you'll come to you - and then sit back and appreciate the gift that is your mom.