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Staff column: 'Shut up, get over it, move on'

When I was a girl, my mother always told me: "Refuse to be a victim."

Living in a world that is quick to victimize people, my mother said there were two choices for everything: feel sorry for yourself or get over it.

"The choice is yours," she'd say. "But I'm choosing to get over it."

"But sometimes life is hard, and it's just not fair," I'd say.

"That's true," she'd reply. "Get a helmet."

I was a bit of a snot then, and I'm sure I rolled my eyes, thinking, "Seriously, what does my mother know? As if that works in 'real' life."

But fast forward a decade or two, and I'm seeing the value of those words here in 'real life.'

Yet I have more than words. I can look back on an example of it, too:

I was two years old when my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Soon after, my mom found out she was expecting her eighth child. Within five years, MS had pushed my dad into a nursing home where he could get constant care - he was only in his thirties.

My mother went back to school to earn her bachelor of arts degree. She'd work on her homework at night, after helping the rest of us with ours.

Later, she worked in the schools, getting to know our classmates (which was good from a parent's standpoint, but not so good from a teenager's).

She kept us on a routine, making the house run like clockwork.

We piled in the van each summer and went on long trips - Yellowstone, Washington, Montana, Michigan and the Black Hills.

She brought us fishing, camping, swimming, snowmobiling and ice skating.

She encouraged tree houses, art projects, and hours and hours of imaginative play.

She expected homework done, chores kept up and respect for our siblings.

And she laughed - the throw your head back kind that would stop only to start up again.

She laughed at stuff us kids said, books, magazines and columns in the newspaper. She laughed at "Bushisms" and political cartoons, concerns of a 15-year-old, and everything in between.

Every once in a while, someone would tell me, "Oh, you poor thing. Your dad has MS. How sad."

And I would give a confused, "Huh?"

My dad having MS was simply a fact. I didn't miss out on half the stuff they thought I had. My mom made sure of it.

I hope my kids remember the trips to the pool and the bike path. I hope they look back on our trips, our evenings out with friends and our Sunday afternoons. I hope they remember me laughing.

Back here in 'real life,' my mother's shoes are too big for me. They flop off my heels when I walk. But, I'm moving forward, and that's something.