Mom and Dad at my sister Candace's wedding.

Mom and Dad at my sister Candace's wedding.

Judgment - the ability to make reasoned decisions that help more people than they don't - seems, sometimes, like an unsung quality. At my sister's wedding, it was the quality I most singled out in her, but she's not alone in that. I think she probably got it from my mom.

My mom straddles the line between rationality and mercy better than anyone that I know. She is eminently practical, but it's a practicality that encompasses self-care: she recognizes the intractable nature of human foibles. Is it a good idea to keep that nice shirt you got at a bargain? Not if it makes you feel terrible and you're never going to wear it. Should you spend a bunch of money on skincare when your budget is limited? Well, if taking care of yourself is the only thing that's keeping you sane as you try to expand your budget, it might not be as terrible as it sounds. Is it worth it to stop talking to someone who's not being a great friend? Consider waiting it out for a bit, if it doesn't hurt you.

I am an adult woman who is capable of most adult things, but I still call my mom all the time. I call her to ask how I should word a potentially contentious email. I call her to see if she thinks that it's worth it to pay for a nonstop flight. I call her to ask if jersey pants are unacceptable for the workforce. I called her yesterday, when I baked a cake in the wrong type of pan and it exploded all over the oven, both to get her opinion on how to handle the cake and to ask if it would be okay to clean the oven the next day. (Cake: crumble it up and serve it with ice cream. Oven: if you don't have a self-cleaning feature, then yes, but also consider a self-cleaning feature if you have the opportunity to choose your ovens in future.)

My mother has *such* good judgment, in fact, that it's become a standing joke among a couple of my friends: #istandwithrobin. Much like women across America stood with Wendy Davis as she countered SB5 in Texas, a few of my friends have decided that, wherever possible, they stand with Robin, to the point where they will sometimes ask what Robin would say or do. Which is funny not just in the way it personalizes a meme (although that's pretty much always funny), but also because my mother (Robin, in case you missed that) is both extremely humble and a hardcore introvert, the kind of person who would probably not enjoy filibustering or nationwide attention for very long. I am 99% sure that her response to this blog post will be, "That was very sweet, but you didn't have to do that." Nope. I didn't have to. I wanted to. 

And I wanted to do it partly to pay tribute to her, but also to point out the lie in the idea that leadership has to be people standing on a stage or people yelling. Robin is a leader, in that she sets an example for us in how to live better lives and how to treat other people. We - my siblings and I - want to be people that would make her proud. She is very shy. She has never been interviewed for anything on national television. She would probably not qualify for any institute on social entrepreneurship, now or in the past. But I would rather get advice from her than from any TED talk on the planet.

I've had to make a lot of big personal decisions lately, things that have an impact on where I'll live, and how, and with whom. Mom has been a neutral sounding board, supportive of my decisions but also hardcore in helping me think through their consequences. For that, and for everything else, #istandwithyou. Happy Mother's Day.

 

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