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28 Things My Mother Taught Me

Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Until I became a mom, I realized there is little to nothing that we can do to show our mothers an appropriate amount of gratitude for everything they’ve done for us.  I don’t mean that to be sappy, because there is literally nothing we can do. We are helpless in the face of their sheer selflessness.  Mothers are monsters for doing things for others.

My mom has taught me a lot.  And I’m also indebted to many people that I consider mothers; women who have been influential in my life.  My grandmothers, for starters, are two of the most incredible women I know.  I’ve also had the great fortune of having women in my life that know their way around life and have been willing to throw me bone.  For this, I am eternally grateful.

Below is a list of things my mother taught me, 28 of them for the twenty-eight years I’ve known her.  We could all learn a thing or two from our moms.

1. Don’t be afraid to work hard.
My mother is one of the hardest workers I know.  This is the woman who got her masters degree while working a full-time job when her children were in junior high and high school.  My mother has always got her hands in something, always looking for the next project, always wanting to learn more and experience more.

2. “One night for boys, one night for girls.”
My mom had this rule when I started dating.  You could only see a guy one night of the weekend; the other night was for your girlfriends.  I thought this was “totally unfair,” but it’s a smart rule.  You don’t lose your relationship with your friends when you start dating that guy that you’ll break up with over the summer anyway.

3. Look nice, but don’t let fashion run your life.
Mom always looks kicking, but she’s no slave to fashion.

4. The thank you note is an art form.
My mother was militant about thank you cards when I was growing up.  I’m so thankful for having this burned into me.

5. Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
When my mother’s father passed away, we were all in the fancy car, riding back from the gravesite.  It was pouring down rain, we were all tired, emotionally and physically.  We had been greeting people at the church all morning, eating a lovely dinner prepared by some very kind women, then burying my Papa Bill.  The rain was beating loudly on the car roof as we all piled in, dripping wet.  My uncle, who had just sung a lovely song at the funeral, leaned forward to my grandmother and asked, “Did you like the hymn?”  She answered him, “No sweetie, I had the chicken.”  My grandmother mishearing “ham” in “hymn” in that particular moment is still one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me.  I’ll never forget my mother, sopping wet, yet completely graceful, missing her father, but belly laughing along.

6. Take a risk.
I remember my mother auditioned for a community play when I was in junior high.  She got the lead and was just incredible.  My mother is not a trained actress, but she killed it.

7. Sing in the car.
Everytime.

8. Cultivate imagination.
I probably played “pretend” for longer than a lot of my friends, but my mom never told me to grow up or get my head out of the clouds.

9. Don’t brush off a compliment.
Just say “thank you” and smile.

10. When you think something nice about someone, say it to their face.  When you think something unkind, keep it to yourself.

11. Kiss your husband in front of your kids.

12. You’re probably not going to marry the first guy you date.

13. The guy you end up marrying will probably not make a great first impression on you.

14.  Put it back where it goes.

15. Don’t be a crazy feminist.
Let men open doors for you.  Let the guy kill the roach.  But know how to change a flat tire.

16. Listen.  Before you say anything.

17. Cynicism is not worthy of your time.

18. Stick with it.
My parents never let me quit anything, save one time.  I was allowed to drop out of Girl Scouts, only to find that the week after I left, my troop went to McDonald’s and got free french fries.  Lesson learned: don’t quit anything.

19. Take pictures.  Get them printed.  Save everything with meaning.

20.  If  someone’s taking a picture, go chin down, eyes up.  If it’s full body, bend a knee.

21. By the time a woman realizes her mother was right, she usually has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong.

22. In your dad’s eyes, until you marry the guy, he’s not in the picture.
No guy will ever be more important than your dad (until you get married), and you’ll never have a better friend than your mom.

23. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you can just get out of it.
Examples: algebra II, breaking up with boys, yard work, telling the truth.

24. Don’t be afraid to be the only girl in the room.
My mom works with a ton of men.  I also happen to work with a ton of men.  Tips: Don’t cry in front of all of them.  Cry in front of them separately.  Don’t be afraid to say good ideas.  Don’t be afraid to say bad ones, too.

25. Do it yourself.  Until you can’t.  Then call the professionals.

26. Know your forks, sit down for dinner, and don’t put your elbows on the table.
Fork and left have the same amount of letters.

27. What seems like a good idea at 18 is usually already a bad one by 21.

28. Always be reading.

Happy Mother’s Day to the kindest, wisest lady I know.

Category: Family

3 Responses to 28 Things My Mother Taught Me

  1. Julie Solomon

    Erin, I loved reading this for so many reasons. One is that I too had an amazing mom who taught me many of the same things. The other is that I have learned some great things from your mom and I agree that she is just one of a kind. Thanks for sharing this.

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