“Men are like shoes.Penny Geiszler
You have to try them on until
you find the one that fits.”
When I became of age to be interested in boys, my mother would often repeat this motto. For some, it is practical advice. For others, it is
When I was a freshman in high school, I thought the ideal boy was a blonde god who drove a light blue classic car and led the percussion line. I also was dreamy over a few tall, dark, and handsome clarinet players. These boys could play the songs of my heart. However, the fit was never right.
As I progressed through high school and most of college, my ideal boyfriend transformed to tall, slender, Wrangler-Jeans wearing, country-western dancing masculine goodness. The louder their truck, the better my heart raced. Again, my perception of the perfect boy never resulted in the right fit with whom to build a future.
Mom’s shoe advice seemed to be a curse. I went into the dating shoe store looking for the styles that I thought would work best. I tried them on, wore a few for awhile, but ultimately felt disappointed. Additionally, I felt I was developing a reputation as being a flirt (which I’m not sure how to make fit the shoe shopping analogy. Sorry).
As a junior in college, I finally decided to shop in the ‘male shoe store’ without any preconceived idea of the ‘perfect shoe.’ I dated a variety of attractive and eligible young men, but ultimately they weren’t the right fit. As I analyzed with the fit wasn’t right, I developed a list of qualities that mattered most in my ideal partner for life. With that list in mind, I knew lasting love when I saw my husband at church for the first time. The rest is history.
A decade after being married, I inherited the family genealogy document collection. In the stack was mom’s first attempts at writing her personal history. I shook my head because her personal history presented a boy-crazy young teenager and nothing else. She never wrote about her life as a young bride, a young mother, our move to Texas, or anything else for that matter. Her life story focuses primarily on her teenage dating dilemmas before meeting my father.
At first, I didn’t want to save these ‘ridiculous’ stories that made my eyes roll. Mom’s personal writings weren’t what genealogists really seek after. Right? Then it dawned on me. This glimpse into mother’s life helped me understand her dating advice. In reviewing her trials on the dating scene, I could see my younger self.
We both had ideal visions of who we should marry. We both pinned for someone who wouldn’t have us. Ultimately, we both met young men with whom we built lives. Mom and I knew our spouses were right for us the moment we met them.
Family history is more than names, dates, and places. Genealogy is more than a document of when mom married dad. The advice a mother shares combined with the stories that support her sage wisdom and our adherence or ignorance of said mottoes is a powerful story. That story is worth preserving.
Not only that, these stories are worth sharing with our children. My older children are approaching dating age. I will tell my daughter and son to be open to a variety of personalities and traits. I’ll suggest they date in groups so the pressure to perform or force a fit is reduced. Once they discover traits that fit best with their goals and personalities, then they are ready to look for ‘the one.’ In short, I would repeat my mother’s advice, but add the wisdom I gained from her personal narrative and my own experience. In that way, I’ll continue sharing her advice with the accessories of family history. Oh, yeah!
This mother’s day, think of a piece of advice your mother, or grandmother, shared with you. If she’s alive, ask her why she offers that motto. If she has passed away, consider her life and how events shaped her beliefs. Then record how you’ve applied, or ignored, that advice in your life. You will record a story that captures the unique spirit of your mother and yourself that no vital document can ever encapsulate.
In the comments section below, share your mother’s advice and how it has helped you see your genealogy in a new light. Or, just share a great piece of wisdom from your maternal relatives. Happy Mother’s Day!
This post was inspired by the Family History For Children link up. The Theme was “Mothers are Memory Keepers,” and I spun the topic to include the fact that my mother was a memory maker and it’s my job to keep her memories. I know, I’m always the “out-of-the-box” thinker.