This post was written by my sister Christie Blair.
My mom is my example.
If I ever know what to do with my kids, if I ever know how to serve in a calling, if I ever know how to handle a difficult situation, I learned it from my mom.
My mom was only 19 when I was born, so by the time I graduated from college I realized that I could remember my mom at the age that I then was. I know who my mom was at 25, at 30, 35, etc. Going off to college way back in the dark ages (1993) meant only a 30 minute phone call every other week, but lots and lots of letters. Now, more than ever, I am grateful for the boxes full of letters I have from my mom during those pre-internet/cell phone days. Someday I will organize them. And then there were the cell phone years...during a time when I was all alone and had plenty of time to talk and my mom would vent and troubleshoot and work out situations with my teenage siblings, my newly married siblings, her callings, work, etc, etc.
My parents always taught us that they were raising us to be better than they were. If we found their old report cards or heard stories of things they did when they were younger, they would remind us of that fact. As a teenager, I fully trusted that would be the case, that each generation would learn from the mistakes of the past, take only the good, and raise the next generation better. I was certainly going to do a few things better than my parents ;)
Of course now as a mother of 3 young children I just hope and pray I can do half so well as my mother did with her 8. She's always been very open with her children about her weaknesses and shortcomings, but also sharing with us the ways she has overcome them. When I think of my mom as my example it's not just the amazing woman described on Katie's blog this month, but also the young mother with a very messy house who yelled a lot. It's the mom who talked on the phone with her sister for what seemed like hours before I finally got her to pay enough attention to me to realize I was trying to show her I'd come down with chicken pox. It's the mom who try to start a "capping jar" where we would have to pull out a slip of paper with a chore written on it every time we "capped on" someone but stopped because SHE was having to do it, too! It's the mom who didn't always do everything right and didn't always know what to do...and let us see that. I treasure those memories because those are ones that give me hope. It's also the mom who took me to Education Week the week I turned 16 and every year after until my mission, and talked long into the night with me about what she was learning and how she was going to try to apply it to our family. It's the mom who taught seminary during my mission and wrote long letters about how she was learning to love the scriptures (as well as her struggles with some of the same people who have written about her this month!).
The happy picture of 8 temple-worthy children came out of a lot of tears and laughter, mistakes and apologies, and I treasure the front-row seat I have had, giving me years and years of watching the development of a truly great example. I am forever thankful to have known that she wasn't just born the amazing woman she is today. More than the stellar example she now is, I love my mom for the example she has given me of what it is to struggle through growth and change to become tomorrow more than what you are today.