Monday, May 12, 2014

How Did She Do That?

by Kasey Tross


At various times over the course of my adult life- especially since I have become a mother- I have thought about how my mother raised me and I have tried to figure out how she did it. I say this because, not to toot my own horn (really, just to toot my mother’s) my brother and sister and I turned out pretty great. We’ve all been successful, faithful kids. None of us have ever gone anywhere near drugs or alcohol, and we’ve done stuff in the “correct" order: high school, mission (for my brother), college, temple marriage, kids.

But beyond all of those things, there is something I see in my brother and sister and me that my mother nurtured that I think is incredibly valuable: we all reach for our dreams. From my brother, who spent his childhood playing with Legos and now splits his time between his office computer and sites where he dons a hard hat and makes sure the plans he designed on that computer are being properly executed, to me who used to fill journals and notebooks with my stories and now am finishing up a novel. This Mother’s Day I decided to spend some time pondering this, and see if I could look back into my childhood (and recent years as well) and figure out how the heck she did that. Because don’t we all want our kids to reach for their dreams?

1. She said, “Why not?” I remember all kinds of schemes I had when I was a kid. My brother and I used to come up with a new idea every other minute, from opening our very own nature center to selling friendship bracelets to kids at school. I always had big ideas, and my mom’s response was always, “Sure, why not? Go for it!” She never gave me the reasons why so many of those ideas wouldn’t work- as I recall, she let me figure those out on my own. She just happily helped with whatever she could and then got out of my way.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” - Shakespeare

2. She lied to me. Okay, I’m not calling my mom a liar. But one thing I always remember my mom telling me when I was young was how brave I was. I never questioned it until recently when I remembered how whenever I went into a store I would always make my brother pay so I wouldn’t actually have to speak to anyone. I remembered how each night before bed my closet door had to be closed because I was convinced that there was a witch that would come out of it if it wasn’t. I remember having a long, long list of things I was afraid of that I would recite each night in my prayers before bed and ask God to protect me from them. But my mom, my amazing mom, never failed to tell me that I was brave. Do you think she knew that if she said it enough I would eventually believe it? Well, she was right. I did. She told me what I could be enough times that after awhile, I was.

3. She made me want to be better. My mom is one of the classiest women I know. She is one of those people you would never hesitate to invite to a fancy party or introduce to someone important because she is first class all the way. She has traveled the world and met famous people and had a life most people only dream of. I’ve always kind of had her on a pedestal, and I have felt the need to show her that her intelligence and grace and class are a legacy, and that I will carry it on. I don’t know how well I’ve done with that, but I’m trying.

4. She led by example. When my mom was a kid she caught the horse bug. When her parents got her a barely-broken horse she taught herself to ride, bareback, across the deserts of southern California. In college, she dreamed of being a stewardess for Pan Am, the most prestigious airline at the time, and so when she graduated she went through a rigorous interview & training process and finally donned the famous blue uniform and flew the open skies. When I was in high school, she decided to go back to school for her masters. Then she got her doctorate. Then she became a college professor. Then she decided to pursue her dream of breeding thoroughbred racehorses. Then she wrote a book. How can I not want to be like her? She simply said, “Why not?” and followed her dreams, fearlessly, regardless of her circumstances. She showed me that each season of life is a new opportunity, and that even if I’m not doing something right now, it doesn’t mean it will never happen. Because of her example, I hold on to my dreams.


Mom in front of one of her favorite sculptures at the Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. 


5. She remembered who I was. When I was a teenager, I was a total brat. I mean, I talked back and thought I knew everything. Fortunately for me, my mom recognized that it was the hormones talking, and she used to say, “This isn’t you." Of course I always rolled my eyes at that, but once college hit and I was out on my own and I got some perspective, I started to understand what she meant, and I knew that despite my brattiness, she still loved me, and her reminders of that person I once was helped me to find her again.

6. She was impressed by me. My mom came to everything. Every choir concert, every silly play, every performance I ever did. She always said that I was the brightest star, and that the performance was more wonderful than she could have ever imagined. When I would show her something I made at school, she would just shake her head as if she was just in awe of my talent. Now, I know that probably not everything I did was awe-inspiring. But she would say things like, “You are amazing. I just don’t know how you do it. You truly amaze me.” She pointed out every strength I had (and even played up the ones I didn’t- see #2). And, considering how highly I thought of her, those words meant everything to me. Somehow she managed to not give me a big head, but always made me feel like I was incredible and could do anything. The more she said I amazed her, the more I wanted to amaze her, and the more I believed I could.


My mom and me just before I ran the Monument 10k. She drove 3 hours to come cheer me on.


7. She didn’t let me quit. You know that saying, “If you fall off the horse, get right back on?” Well, my mom literally taught me that lesson. I remember when I was little and she was giving me a riding lesson. I fell off the horse and I was crying and I didn’t want to try again (I was scared, of course). She simply told me that wasn’t an option and that if I ever wanted to ride again, I would get back up on that horse. So I did. And she was right. It’s been a lesson that’s served me well: the harder something is to do, the more I probably need to do it. (And besides, I’m brave. Brave people don’t quit.)

Even today, my mom is still mothering me and helping me reach for my dreams. She listens to me rant about things without always offering me solutions (even though she knows them), she supports my crazy ideas and is my biggest cheerleader, and she still acts like she is amazed at all that I do. I just hope that somehow I can internalize all that she’s given me and find a way to pass it on to my kids to help them reach for their dreams.

 Thank you for your incredible example of motherhood, Mom, and for giving me a legacy of reaching for dreams. Happy Mother’s Day!

*Side note- I sent my mom a video to tell her happy Mother’s Day and thank her for how she has inspired me and she responded with this: "You are so amazing and can do absolutely anything you set your mind to!!” :-)

**Another side note- Obviously, my mom was not the only one who influenced me growing up. I had a wonderful father, a fantastic stepfather, and an awesome stepmother as well. They all supported me and continued to support me and I love them dearly for it. :-)


8 comments:

  1. This is wonderful! What an awesome mom you had! Lying to you (love that one) and being impressed by you - those are things we all need. We need parents to tell us we ARE things we are not YET. I love it when my parents are impressed with something I've done. These are lovely traits we should all adopt with our own young ones!

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    1. Thanks, Mare! Yes, these are all things I am trying to do with my kids. So glad I have such an awesome example. :-)

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  2. What a wonderful Mothers Day gift this is!! Thank you, sweetheart. By the way: I didn't lie, you are brave and beautiful and continue to amaze me.

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  3. Some of us are lucky we have amazing mothers

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  4. I love this, Kasey! Your mom sounds amazing, just like her daughter. :)

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    1. Thanks, Katy! She is pretty amazing. :-)

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