My mother is not a perfect person, but she's a happy one. It's #mothersday, and as I got up early to make breakfast for my wife (family tradition) I thought about why my mother has always been able to remain happy in an increasingly distressed and dysthymic world. As I waited for the griddle to achieve the perfect temperature, here's what I came up with:
My mother is a not a great cook (she never waited for the griddle to be thoroughly heated through) but her less than stellar performances in the kitchen never bothered her. The first lesson I learned from my mother: Don't dwell on the negative, emphasize the positive aspects of things. When my brothers and sisters would grouse about the pancakes being burned on the outside and uncooked in the middle, she would respond, "you're not starving are you?" And she was right, she raised four healthy children. The devil's advocate might rebut by saying, "that approach precluded her from learning from her mistakes." And while that is true, I ask you: What's more important, being happy, or cooking the perfect pancake?
I managed to burn myself on the side of the griddle, reminding me of the time I accidentally tripped my mother while she was carrying bacon grease, resulting in a bad burn. I felt horrible, naturally, but what I remember most about the whole deal was how she never, not even once, complained. She sat quietly as I drove her to the hospital--even though I know from much experience that burns hurt a lot--and just went about her business when we got home. When she had hip surgery a few years ago, she refused all pain meds--even Tylenol. I often tell people that I could walk into her house and find three of her limbs on the ground, and she would say, "I'm fine, don't worry about me." She figured out a long time ago that complaining about things only makes them worse. My mother would tell you that her ability to live life without complaining is that she accepts things for what they are.
Crap. I forgot to buy the blueberries for the pancakes, but I am going to take my cue from my mother who never sweats the small things. Yes, the blueberry pancakes would have been epic but chocolate chip pancakes are pretty good as well. I can remember my mother making a cake for my birthday, back in the day, and realizing we didn't have enough sugar. It would have been easy enough to go to the store, perhaps, but we had just got 4 feet of snow in the last 48 hours and we were not going anywhere. Not to worry, though, my mother substituted honey or molasses or maple syrup or whatever for the sugar and came up with a cake. So many people allow the small things to upset the whole apple cart. But not my mother, and that was the best birthday present, learning not to get derailed by things that don't really matter.
(And the cake wasn't that bad either.)
(And the cake wasn't that bad either.)
Peter Hogenkamp is a physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and The Intern, a serialized novel based loosely on Peter's internship, published bi-weekly on #Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons, the literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at email@example.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at firstname.lastname@example.org.