Five things I learned NOT TO DO — from my Mother

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With my mother in her 90s and me in my late 50s, life cannot get easier as days go by. Yes, age is just a number, but well, when health shows its ugly side, age just meets you at every step.

There is so much one learns not to do sometimes and it helps to just get better when you are aware of them.

I learned that complaining can get me nowhere — my mother’s perpetual complaining just gets on everyone’s nerves including her own, literally!

Yes, this is one big lesson for me as I observe my mother constantly grumble. The maid is forever late, the doorbell is really loud — who is deaf here? The sun is so sharp, oh — the sun never shines in this room, the bathroom door is so narrow — I cannot get in easily, this cat always comes in my way, look at my hands — they look so shriveled, oh — my legs ache so much — I’d rather die, these days there are no good programs on TV, I’m so tired, these mosquitoes sting like crazy…..the list can go on and on and on!

Complaining only takes us backwards; it depletes energy — not just your own but everyone’s around. So I have learnt to complain less or assign myself “no complaint days” and try to keep a conscious tab on them. Try not to complain.

Judging people is only a reflection of who you are and not who they are. I try to avoid judging people because my mother’s ways I found are so stressful for her own good.

My mother has an opinion on everything she sees. Be it my cat, a street dog, any friend or passerby — she has something to say. She has to say something about a cupboard too; it does not necessarily have to be breathing. And what I hear is 98 times out of 100 — negative! This is when I told myself I will try to look at things that are good in people and things — and I am always able to find it, there is never dearth of them. Yes, we are entitled to our own opinions; buy well — what do I say? I wish to be conscious of not imbibing some things from my mom here and don’t get me wrong; I don’t love her less for all she is and says. Yes, I look for the good in her too. Isn’t it her habits that are encouraging me to be otherwise? Try not to judge people.

I have learnt not to be miserly in giving compliments. Giving sincere compliments has such a positive effect on people and helps strengthen bonds, creating impressions.

I have been my mother’s sole caretaker for years now, but I have never heard a good word. I don’t know whether she gives me silent compliments as I am not a seer, and I have understood how people actually yearn for a good word sometimes. I learned the importance of a genuine compliment from not having received one from her; never mind, she taught me to be a better person. I am lavish with my compliments, and connecting to my lesson in seeing the good in others, giving compliments has only become easier and makes me happy too in the bargain. Give compliments freely.

She finds that the hands of her clock never move and complains that the day never ends. I learned the importance of developing a good and happy hobby, which is critical to a better and richer life as we grow older.

It is never too late to develop a hobby that enriches your mind and body. Whatever you wish to do, be it a simple habit of reading to just about anything. When you are weaned off from your normal duties, whether at work or home, it’s a good hobby that motivates you as you grow older. I have found my interest in writing grow now that I find a little more time for myself. I am also looking for another interest that will leave me feeling blessed for having lived each day in peace with myself. Develop and enjoy your hobby.

Somehow, I learned it is so much better to talk less. It is constant diarrhea of words when my mother is around, so-much-so, people want to seek escape very soon as they have not had an opportunity to talk. I find that the more we constantly indulge in talking without a purpose, we tire the nerves of our listeners and ourselves too. There can be an unwanted conversation that helps no one and may even spark off uneasiness. People have their way of doing things, so don’t give unsolicited advice and don’t talk about history and your memories if the listener is not keen — limit talk, limit tête-à-tête, limit gossip (better not to indulge in it), and stay calm. Talking less can sometimes be more.