In Relief Society on Sunday, I taught a lesson about raising children (because, um, clearly I’ve got this!). One of the questions the manual posed was, What are some “daily acts” that bear witness of our beliefs to our children? When I read that, my mind immediately went back to a conversation with my mom just a couple of weeks before. She had been sick and missed church on the day that many leadership positions and callings in our ward were changed. (The LDS Church has no professional clergy and instead depends on volunteerism and a system of rotating responsibilities throughout the membership.) She was eager to hear about the changes when I returned home. Our conversation went like this:
Me: RN became Relief Society president.
Mom: Oh, she’ll be great! She’s such a powerful speaker.
Me: Her counselors are SJ and –
Mom: She’ll do a wonderful job. She’s so loving.
Mom: Oh, she’ll be fabulous. She’s so funny and engaging and makes friends easily.
Me: KL and LP got called to be ward missionaries.
Mom: Wow, they’ll be fantastic in those callings!
Me: So, just so we’re clear, do you think they’re going to be great or just kinda mediocre?
In some ways this conversation was such a small thing, but as I reflected on it I thought about how it encapsulates one of the most important lessons of my life: acknowledging and appreciating someone else’s strengths does not diminish yours. What a difference it makes in life to look for and embrace the good in others!
My mom is the quintessential “go-getter.” She never met a certification, degree, or job opportunity she wasn’t willing to assertively pursue. I have that in me too, but as a more introverted person, I think I feel less comfortable drawing attention to myself and my qualifications. I have always felt that the quality of my work would (eventually) speak for itself, so I did not need to spend much time networking. Many opportunities have come my way very naturally, but at the same time, I know I have left some things on the table because I was not willing to make contact with people if it felt even a little like self-promotion.
Last week I attended an online meeting with the university I teach for in which 30+ instructors eagerly discussed potential opportunities to add to their teaching load. Part of the master plan is to add another online class or two to get us to the income level we are hoping for, but I was beginning to doubt whether there would be more opportunities at this particular university as they have repeatedly said that their priority is to have each instructor teach one online course. When I logged out of the virtual meeting, I felt a bit deflated because although we were all on “the list,” the list to be used if the need ever arose, there were obviously a lot of instructors equally anxious to add another class. Still, the thought crossed my mind: I bet my mom would email the Online Scheduling Coordinator right now just to let him know she was ready and willing, with a little plug for how capable she was. So I did it. I sent a short email, something like I’m so glad my winter section carried — I look forward to teaching again! If you ever need another class filled, even at the last minute, I am very flexible and could step in. I have worked with non-traditional students in the past, so that would not be a problem. Also, I’ll DO ANYTHING! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! DON’T MAKE MY HUSBAND GET A REAL JOB!
Well, what do you know? Today, just 2 days later, I got a call from said Online Scheduling Coordinator asking if I would teach a second section of my course in the winter. Um, yes. No real jobs for us! (This is probably not exactly the outcome my mom thought she was promoting. Teaching lessons to kids: it’s a double-edged sword.)
I always thought of myself as being more like my dad: we share similar work habits and sleep tendencies (though Neal beat those night-owl tendencies right out of me). We both loathe shopping and raisins and celery. We both love finances and solitude. But the older I get the more I appreciate the lessons from my mother and how profoundly they have shaped me.