In loving memory of the beautiful and unforgettable Rita Cameron (April 30th, 2019).
Rita is a special Mom for so many reasons. Her no-nonsense parenting approach and clarity of purpose has resulted in my connection to two strong thinking and independent women, her girls Susan and Gail.
Because of Rita’s diligence and dedication her girls survived the teen years and, with her guidance, they have successfully navigated the world of adulthood. Rita’s daughters are funny, well balanced, strong, thoughtful, caring and much loved. My life is better, fuller and happier because of her work. I love her for this.
Secondly, Rita’s work has also spilled into the next generation in her adored and beloved granddaughter, Marissa. Marissa is now practicing the skills and considering perspectives given to her by the preceding two generations; I know for sure they will serve her well.
Rita’s granddaughter has the advantage of the protective layers of her work, and the work of her girls. Marissa is surrounded by the wisdom of strong women. This gift of wisdom is second only to the sparkle in her eye, which is an obvious inheritance from her “Nanamo.”
It’s no question Marissa will continue to recognize the strength of her “Nanamo,” who’s deep impact will forever guide her journey through life. this guidance, direct and indirect, has been firmly instilled in her Marissa’s heart. I love Rita for this too.
The third reason I love Rita is because she was my friend. She was a great friend!
Rita would message me to check in on me, sending compliments, encouragement and love. She was understanding. She was so strong. She was a fine example of a woman who loved women and lifted others up and applauded them for standing. I love Rita a lot for this.
It brings me great sadness to carry her message, as of course I wish she could carry it herself. It also brings me a heart load of pride that Rita trusted me with her thoughts, supported my efforts and celebrated 100 Moms 1000 Tips 1 Million Reasons right along with me. I love her and miss her.
Here is Rita’s section in 100 Moms, in entirety:
Rita’s first line in her response to me, was of no surprise, “The first thing I would like to say is I have two daughters, both I love dearly.” I could just feel the sincerity in that line. Her tenderness leapt off the page. It was almost as if one line had said it all!
Rita followed her first email with a few more, which I thought to be extra-special. Her time, attention and dedication to my request was an honor and testament to her parenting. Rita, not only accepted the challenge, she thought about it, and thought about it some more. Knowing, first-hand the quality of her ‘work’ I am thrilled she agreed to participate.
- I remember my Grandmother used to say–small kids, small worries–bigger kids, bigger worries. She spoke the truth. The worries, as they get older are usually much more serious.
- I learned nothing happening to you could hurt as much as if it happens to your kids. To this day, I still dislike any of their friends who’ve hurt them by words, action or immaturity. Maybe that’s just me.
- The most important thing to me, is to make them know without a doubt I ALWAYS loved them. Maybe on some days I didn’t like them but there was no question I loved them.
- When they are talking to you pay attention to them, not the phone, not the TV, (today it would be Facebook, iPhone, iPad). They need to know you are listening to them. If you ignore them they may never try to tell you things.
- When they are teenagers the real fun begins. All of a sudden you know nothing and overnight they are experts on everything. This is when you really start to develop your detective skills. I never was a believer in “not-my-kid.” If something happened at school and they were in trouble, I didn’t think, my little darlings could not have done that. The jury was out until I heard the whole story. As Judge Judy says, “How do you know if a teenager is lying? Their lips are moving.” Don’t think they never would lie to their Mother, they will in a minute. They will lie, so they can get you to let them do what they want.
- I tried to teach them to respect others. I also told them NOBODY was better than them and vice versa.
- I didn’t allow them to disrespect me.
- As teenagers, I would track them down. I didn’t care if I barged into a stranger’s house to get them. I needed to know they were safe. If they took a cab I would call the cab company to find out where they took them. If they said they couldn’t tell me, I said I was calling police because they were minors. They soon gave me the information. Teenage girls hate it when you act like this. They find it embarrassing. I say, too bad!
- I always told my girls they could do anything, if they wanted it enough to work hard. They knew I believed in them and they had my support. This is important.
- Don’t give them everything they ask for. They need to know the satisfaction of earning it themselves. You can’t buy their love and respect, you need to earn it.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say. Try not to make threats you are not prepared to follow through on.
- Try not to make promises you may not be able to keep.
- When they are teenagers and try drinking, they come home not feeling well; send them straight to bed. The next day get them up REALLY early, like 5 AM! Time for chores! Try not to think, poor little thing isn’t feeling well, I will let them sleep. They don’t remember that way. Better they learn this way. Every action has a reaction.
- Give your kids everything they need, and SOME of the things they want. The most important thing you can give them is your love and guidance.
- Be careful with your words. Once they are spoken you can’t take them back. I don’t think there is a Mother in the world who didn’t wish they could take back something they said. After all, we are human.
See, fabulous, firm, fair and fabulous!
Rita admitted, some days were very difficult. She said, “It didn’t matter how they tormented me, and tried to wear me down, no meant no! It is much easier to just give in and let them do whatever. You and your child will come to regret it in a big way. I am the same way with my granddaughter. It worked last time!!”
Rita also advised, “Motherhood has the longest learning curve you will ever encounter. It begins the day your child is born, and continues until the day you leave this earth. It is both the most difficult and, at the same time, the most rewarding thing you will accomplish in your lifetime. Enjoy the journey.”
I loved Rita’s tip 11. Saying what you mean and advising against empty threats, so vitally important. Following just that one tip will minimize wasted time, aggravation and confusion. Saying what you mean promotes trust, security and love. I too made every attempt to be true to my words, and my threats.
I felt it was fair and imperative to announce the consequences as early as possible. We talked about issues such as drinking, drugs and peer pressure years prior to the threat.
I would often fabricate scenarios and ask Michael to consider how he might handle them. I think doing this established strong critical thinking skills at an early age.
At times, I would have Michael determine his own punishment for rule breaking. Surprising, he was harsher than I ever would have been. It is a great exercise for many reasons. It develops communication, understanding and skills in pre-planning. I also think it is unifying and respectful – you’re working together to determine strategies and outcomes. You’re on the same page. One caution however, this does take significantly much more time than dictating.
A good example is our conversation on school grades. We had an “Average 85% Rule.” Michael determined above average was his desired goal. We landed on 85%.
Whenever I could, punishments were determined before a ‘crime’ was committed. This prevented us, as parents, from acting out of anger or disappointment. It promoted fairness and clarity.
In the school example, the punishment was predetermined should he go below 85%. We decided if that were to happen we, as parents, would determine his study schedule. Until then, he determined the schedule. Michael did not want us in control of him, really at all!
The same could be said for our “Dinner-time Rule.” In our home, we absolutely said what we meant, and meant what we said. Dinner at 5:30, meant five-three-zero, not 5:35. If 5 minutes was thought “no big deal,” then he could be home at 5:25 the next day.
It is challenging to parent this way. Why get ‘into it’ over five minutes? I’ll tell you why, if 5 minutes is no big deal, then why is 10 minutes a big deal? Nip it all in the bud. Rita was a nip-it-the-bud kinda girl too.
I realize, no one really wants to have the discussion at 5:35 when dinner is getting cold. I didn’t but did anyway. It was worth it. To this day, if Michael is running even 5 minutes late, you’ll hear from him or he’ll be racing in with an apology.
Rita and I both prioritized respect. We didn’t only expect it of our children, we expected it of ourselves. It’s a great governing principle.
Thanks to my special friend and a very special Mom. Her influenced has reached many and I’m forever thankful it rests forever in my heart.
Remembering you today and always,with your legacy in our hearts.