May 3, 2016

10 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share with you some of the important life lessons my own mother has taught me over the years. Some are more on the serious side. Some are amusing. Some are from years ago, some she's taught me only recently, as learning never stops in life. All have been meaningful in my life for one reason or another.

The many lessons I've learned from people in my life are what I always end up remembering about them, even after they've passed on or simply aren't in my life anymore. People leave marks on our hearts, making us who we are. The ones who have taught me something are the ones who have had the most influence on me and who are the most precious. The lessons from my mom are extra special since she's my mother. What she has taught me has shaped who I am since day one. She's taught me much more than these 10 things, of course.

All of the 10 lessons I'm sharing with you are lessons I'll never forget. Each one has a memory that goes with it that I cherish.

Has your own mother taught you something that has stuck with you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! Happy Mother's Day!

1. Kindness matters, so do second chances

Being kind to everyone, from strangers, cashiers, servers, the homeless guy on the street to friends and family, my mom has taught me everyone is equal and everyone deserves for you to be kind. If they screw up, they also deserve a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. Now, after that, if they turn out to just be a total jerk, it's time to write them off and keep my distance.

2. Family is important, even when they suck

Writing off family isn't an option, no matter how crazy, nasty or off-the-wall they are. It's family, so we work it out. If someone needs to be bailed out of a tight spot, we're there for them. That's just what family does. There may be a whole lot of yelling in the process, but we're still there when they need us. Love them. Support them. Stick by them. Even the sucky ones I wish I weren't actually related to half the time. Feel free to pick up the phone and let another family member know how craptastic they're being at the moment, though. Just be up front and inform said member of their suckage directly, too. Venting is healthy. Then let it go a week later when there's something interesting to talk to them about. Because they're family.

3. Keep fighting, even when it seems impossible, do what needs to be done

If someone tells you something is impossible, figure out a way and do it despite them. If something goes wrong, keep at it until it's right. Be the best, work hard, keep fighting. If life throws a lemon at your head, don't give up, keep on going. This applies to everything from school and work to health problems, family, marriage (stick with it, work it out), and the insurance company or store who screwed you over and owes you money. In the case of the insurance company or store, remember that kindness matters. If that gets you no where, talk to a manager and raise holy hell if you must while still being respectful, of course. Just remember to thank them for their help after they fix the problem.

4. Treat guests like family

Well, how you'd treat family if you were a "normal" family. Really, you'd think my sister and I were raised in the South, not that I'm a transplant, with some of mom's life lessons. Nope, we were Northerners (the rest of my family still is). We still roll out the Southern-style hospitality, though. Guests are treated like family (even if you don't like them).

This includes: 1. presenting a clean house 2. a properly appointed bathroom (soap, toilet paper and fresh towels with properly clean facilities) 3. providing comfortable, clean sheets and blankets for overnight guests 4. providing drinks and a snack 5. preparing a meal the guest likes, being aware of allergies and foods the guest doesn't care for 6. being polite, respectful and kind 7. set a nice table 8. always have enough food, it's better to have too much than not enough -- you don't want people to have to count their peas 9. hide the crazy until after the guests leave (the goal is for them to think they're visiting a typical family, not one ready to join the circus because the kids are swinging from the ceiling, food is being thrown across the room, daddy's pants have a hole and mommy burn the dinner three ways to Sunday 10. be sweet as pie, which includes not complaining about anyone until after they leave if it's someone you really don't like and wish they'd go far, far away, but politeness requires an invite (remember how I said you'd think we were always Southerners? Think Steele Magnolias here.) Note: If it's actually family visiting, feel free to let the crazy flag fly and put them to work. They're stuck with you anyway. Still adhere to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8, however.

5. If someone attacks you, sit on them and fart

This one is pretty self explanatory. My mom has told me this since I was a little kid. Really, it's pretty wise advice. Who would expect that? It's not something I'm likely to forget and I still find it amusing.

6. Make gifts thoughtful and always be gracious when receiving one

The thought really does count. No matter how small the gift, if thought went into it, it can become something that's treasured for a life time. I still remember a mouse in an ice cream cup magnet my great-grandmother gave me. I still have it, packed away with treasured mementos, though she gave it to me 20 years ago at least. We'd gone to visit her and she wanted me to pick something out at the store, simply because she wanted to get me something I liked. Even though she was on a tight income and really didn't have much to spend. Not at all fancy, not expensive, but it's special because she thoughtfully wanted to get me a gift. Another time, my great-aunt and uncle got me a Christmas gift of a pair of heart earrings. I love heart-shaped jewelry even now. My great-aunt knew this so she picked them out for me. What she didn't know was that I already had that pair. I didn't thank them any less graciously than I would have had I not had the same ones at home. That didn't matter, what mattered was that she cared enough to know what I liked AND to get me something when she didn't have to. I kept them, too, because there was so much care and love behind them.

7. It doesn't matter if you're a great cook -- what matters is that your cooking has never killed anyone and no one went hungry

Pots burnt because the water was boiled out of them. Recipes gone wrong. Dinner that's edible but barely. Plain cooking that's good but not awesome. Did it kill anyone? Did anyone go hungry? If the answer to both is no, it's a win, pure and simple.

8. The bathroom is your sanctuary when you're a mom

Once your kids are old enough to be safe alone for awhile, or when daddy's home, go in that bathroom, lock the door, and don't come out until you absolutely have to. Consider it your office. Use nice towels so you have something pretty to admire while you sit on the toilet reading or talking on the phone (only do that with close family though, otherwise it goes from odd to freaky). If the kids look for you in the bathroom before searching you out in any other room, you're doing it right. Bonus points if one of the kids gifts you with a sign for the potty door that says "Mom's Office" for Mother's Day (an especially thoughtful gift so they've been taught right).

9. Shopping is therapy and all purchase info must be shared with your husband -- whether he wants to hear about it or not

Retail therapy is an important part of being a mom. My mom has be a practitioner of this form of therapy ever since I was tiny (probably before). She's also passed on the gift of sharing every purchase, good bargain, why you bought one item and not another, how much you paid, where all you went, and every other mundane detail of each therapy session with your husband. As soon as you get home, while unpacking and showing him every single person. In great detail. No matter how much said husband's eyes glaze over. If he's not paying attention, it's important to get his attention and start over. He must listen and look. Should he fall asleep, poke him with a hanger to wake him up, then start at the beginning.

10. Have fun together and laugh

You can probably tell by now that my mom and our family has a sense of humor. Since our family can scream at each other one minute then be laugh like hyenas the next over something crazy, we probably won't win any awards for Functional, Normal Family of the Year. We won't care, we'll be too busy laughing. As my mom always tells me, no family is really normal. Every family is screwed up in some way -- some are just better at hiding it. We might as well enjoy what we have.

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  1. Such a sweet post! It is amazing how much you shape your child and their views as a mother.

  2. A lesson my mother taught me was don't trust a fart. Otherwise you can end up walking through a hotel parking lot with a big poop stain on the back of your pants.

  3. Love this! Our moms are very alike. My mom also taught me to always fight for what I believe in and don't give up. I have done this so many times and think it has made me a stronger woman. I can't wait to share these lessons with my daughter some day.

  4. #5 made me crack up! Ha! All great lessons. What a great post for Mother's Day <3

  5. These are all wonderful! I agree about family. Even if we fight like cats and dogs I will still love them fiercely. Sit on them in fart may have had me in tears laughing over here!!! Really wonderful post <3

  6. Love this post! Shopping is definitely me and my mom's therapy too. Although, not sure we always tell our husbands ;) I love your mom's sense of humor, and see that you inherited that as well. She sounds like an amazing lady that has raised a pretty awesome women.

  7. Awwwww your mom taught you some really valuable things!!!! My mom always told me to give thoughtful things as well ;)

  8. You're a very sweet daughter. I can really relate with the number 7, I'm not a good cook and so is my mother. My father does the cooking at home but when he's not around and it's my mother's turn, she will say to us "yummy or not, eat the food, they're not poisonous anyway!" Haha

  9. Great post Melissa, your mother sure is a great mom, and it clearly shows you are also doing great as a mother. Now I can remember how my mother taught me about how to value our family, especially my siblings. Good job!


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. As a busy mom, I'm not always able to respond to each one, though I read and appreciate them all.