Just like most kids, I learned a LOT of things from my mom. Most of which I didn’t acknowledge or recognize properly until I got a little older. And a whole lot more I started recognizing after I became a mom myself.
In honor of her and all the other women who have played a motherly role in my life, I wanted to share a few things I learned from my mom. Things I think can be of value for all of us as we try to become better people and learn to love (the whole purpose of life).
ONE. Let them Be.
I’m sharing this one first because I think I value it most. We are who we are. My mom never pressured or pushed or tried to change me. I was not your typical girl (and I’m still not). I was about as tomboy as tomboy gets (I wrote my parents a persuasive essay when I was about 11 years old so they would buy me those hightop shoes that had the basketball you pumped to put air in the bottom of the shoes–please tell me some of you remember these). I never once remember her trying to get me to change that or change who I was. She let me dress how I wanted (like a boy), play what I wanted, participate in what I wanted and be friends with who I wanted. I certainly wasn’t what a parent might envision their little girl being, but that didn’t seem to bother her. I always felt accepted and loved and like I was good enough just the way I was.
I didn’t really see this as I was growing up. It wasn’t something I thought about because it was always just there. I didn’t ever question who I was or what I did because my mom never gave me reason to. She didn’t make me think twice about who I was and who I was becoming because she just let it happen. Now in all reality there’s a good chance she was worried as hell about what the future held for me, but she sure didn’t let me see that OR feel that. She just let me be.
This is one thing I admire the very most about my mom and something I think of constantly as I parent my own kids. Let them be who they already inherently are.
What’s mine is yours. This was absolutely my moms attitude when it came to sharing things with her kids. She shared anything and everything with me. And she did it with a happy, willing heart. I never once heard her complain or hesitate to share. Her car, her clothes, her things, her treats, her time, anything. I did not inherent this very well when it comes to my kids. Get your dirty little paws off my….. I’m working on it.
THREE. Be a helper. And a good friend.
My mom was always serving other people. Not just her kids and husband, but her neighbors, her community, our schools. She was constantly aware of others needs. She had plenty on her plate, just like every mom, but she was quick to show up for other people. One of her friends suffered from a chronic illness and often needed extra care and love. Some of her bouts had her bedridden for weeks and even months at a time. My mom spent hours and hours (and hours) at her bedside. Not once did I hear her complain about helping other people. She’s one of those you know you can call who will always show up in a time of need. She knows we belong to each other and are all here together so we can help each other.
FOUR. Don’t talk smack.
I don’t remember ever hearing my mom talk poorly about other women or other people in general. She never gossiped. She never spread rumors. She never compared herself (at least out loud to me) to other women. She never spread stories that weren’t hers to spread. I tried prying something out of her once that I knew she knew and nothing I did or said would sway her loyalty to keeping people’s business their business (I gotta up my guilt-trip game). She was a steel vault. People gave it to her in trust and that’s where she kept it. I learned a LOT about loyalty from her and a lot about not talking smack. Ever. For any reason.
FIVE. Never give up on your kids.
My mom had six kids (Jesus bless her) and we all came with big big BIG personalities. We’re nothing short of crazy. She had her hands full. In every way. But no matter what any of us did, she would never give up on us. Ever. She is endless chances and endless forgiveness. This is quite possibly one of the biggest blessings she gave us as kids because it allowed us to learn and grow and fail and make stupid choices and take chances knowing we always always always had a mom to fall back on regardless of what we did. Succeed or fail, make amazing choices or insane ones, she will always proudly be our mom and she will always have our back. My dad is for sure lumped in on this one with her. They’ll never give up. I know this because they’ve been put to the test multiple times with their kids. And they never gave up.
One of my brothers is an addict and in a moment of nothing but pure desperation, my mom plead with God asking “why did you give me this kid?” The answer she received: “Because I knew you wouldn’t give up on him.”
That is true for ALL her kids. She will never give up and I’ve never doubted that or questioned it. She walks the walk.
SIX. Love. Always love.
I believe in my core I could do ANYthing and my mom would still love me. I could be anything, do anything, say anything and she’d still love me. My love from her is not conditional on anything. It’s just there. And it will always be there. She might not always like what I do or say or become, but she will always always love me. Just as a mom should. I know this isn’t the way a lot of kids might feel. I am acutely aware of the blessing this level of love is in my life.
SEVEN. Hard work.
You don’t think about this much when you’re a kid, but I don’t remember my mom ever sitting around. She was always busy. Always working. Always doing. And always working on our behalf. She worked hard to keep our house nice, to learn, to feed us meals, to get us to all our activities, to fulfill her church responsibilities, to make her a community a better place to live. She. worked. hard.
The only “indulgence” I remember her having was watching Jeopardy (which she usually did while making dinner). I dare say she would dominate on that show had she ever had the real chance to compete. Double Jeopardy’s got nothin on her.
My 7 year old just gave me a book he made all about me for Mother’s Day. It was about 12 or 13 pages of various things he said about me. In at least 7 of those pages, I was in a bed. Sleeping. Apparently that’s my favorite thing to do (according to him). Definitely gotta work on the perception of my 7 year old. I HIGHLY value a strong work ethic and that certainly came from my parents.
EIGHT. Writing actually IS good for you.
My mom has been a consistent and avid journaler since long before I was born. She has volumes and volumes and volumes of journals. It’s nothing short of amazing. She writes. A lot. She understood all along the value of writing things down. Her life. Her stories. Her thoughts. Her hopes. Her frustrations. Her dreams. She wrote them all down (she won’t let us read them yet, but one day–can’t wait to get my hands on those). And over the years she has become an incredible story teller and writer. She’s funny, succinct, and clear in her writing.
Learning by watching her, I also started keeping my first journal in the 1st grade. And somehow I stuck with it and have kept a journal my entire life (minus a few periods here and there when I started having babies and was in the “new baby fog” phase of life).
She inherently knew, like SO many successful and brilliant people in this world, writing things down has a positive influence on our lives and can catapult us in the directions we need to go. It brings clarity of thought, purpose, and direction. And it is often a much needed release for the soul.
NINE. Reading is gold.
I definitely inherited my mother’s love for reading. For as long as I can remember, my mom always had a book by her bed and in the car and on vacations. And somehow, she passed on the fervent desire to read all the books to every single one of her kids. I can’t thank her enough for this treasure she helped develop in my life. Well done, mom. Well done.
TEN. Music speaks straight to the soul.
In my opinion, my mom has one of the most beautiful singing voices on the planet and I don’t even think I’m being biased. My earliest human memory was when I was maybe 3 or 4 and I would lay underneath the piano bench at our home and listen to my mom practice with her trio. I’d lay there for hours and just listen to her sing. She taught me to love music and to cherish the gift it is to the world. I will never tire of hearing her sing. And I will never stop being in awe at the power music can have over the human heart.
ELEVEN. Be who you are.
My mom was consistent in who she was. Her personality didn’t change around different people. She was never fake. She was never striving to be someone she wasn’t. She didn’t pretend or try to be anyone for anyone. She was who she was. And I took that to heart. Be who you are. Without apology.
I could write a book about lessons from my mom. I am fully aware I had it better than many in a variety ways. And there’s no doubt I’ll continue to realize more and more lessons I’ve learned from my mom as I continue to wade my way through life and motherhood.
Thank you mom. I see you. And ALL that you did and continue to do for me. I love you.