It is a bit embarrassing how often I find myself the last person
to notice a trend, fashion movement or technological craze. I blame
it on having a very short attention span and absolutely no eye for
detail. Despite these shortcomings, I finally took note of all the
"family motto" signs appearing everywhere.
In case you are also a misfit mommy, the family motto is
typically an artsy emblem designed to remind one's children of the
principles and beliefs held most dear by a family.
Together we can do great things
Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back
Dance. Love. Sing. Live.
As I returned from a friend's house the other day, I could not
forget her majestic stenciled creed. It stretched across 15 feet of
dining and living room and read: Family: Where Life Begins and Love
Never Ends. By the time I arrived home, I was desperately trying to
identify the perfect inspirational doctrine my family needed to
live a well-adjusted life.
As a mother, I felt I had dropped the ball.
"You want us to come up with a MISSION STATEMENT?" asked my
husband incredulously when I explained what was desired. "What are
I Googled images of other people's family mottos. After hours of
my online research, Joe walked over to kiss me tonight. He glanced
down at the option I had up on the computer. It was a Celtic
language sign that, when interpreted, meant, "Virtue will carry him
to the sky" (Feret ad astra virtus).
"So you're picking out some kind of spiritual reminder for the
kids and you select one not even written in English?" Joe
Frustrated and angry that Joe had opted for the role of critic,
I asked him what our family motto should be.
"It ought to be something we actually say," Joe responded
thoughtfully, "and it needs to reflect on how we live our
My mind drifted to a moment last month when my youngest son was
struggling to open a juice box and asked his older brother to help
him. Danny, without hesitating, repeated the phrase most oft heard
in our house:
"Figure it out, Joey. Figure. It. Out."
I roared with laughter at Danny's spot-on delivery. While I
certainly help the kids with tasks here and there, more often than
not, I ask them to try a little harder and do it on their own.
It is part of my master plan to make sure they're not living in
our basement at 45.
Strangely enough, these same words have served as an aid to me
throughout the years. Parenting has left me frustrated, perplexed
and lost on an almost hourly basis. And in these moments? I tell
myself to just "Figure it out, Marianne."
I quickly deleted the Celtic words and altered the phraseology
for our new family slogan.
I may not have it all figured out as a parent, and my boys may
plead ignorance when it comes to changing the toilet paper rolls,
but this new creed encourages us to reach first for our God-given
abilities even when things are hard or not easy to do.
And the rest? Well, we can work on refilling the toilet paper
rolls another day.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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