In honor of my mom visiting this weekend, I thought I’d reflect on the life lessons I’ve learned from her in my life so far. It’s funny how things we learned in childhood become stronger as we get older. I appreciate everything my parents did to shape me now more than ever before. I am my mother’s daughter and proud of it. The following are the most important lessons I’ve picked up from her:
It’s okay to feel upset, sad, and angry. Your feelings are valid.
This was probably my first lesson in feminism. You’re not hysterical or hormonal or crazy for expressing your emotions. Don’t bottle it up. Deal with it and move on. If you’re unhappy, change your situation.
Love animals like they’re part of the family.
Because they are. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a pet. My mother taught me to treat animals with kindness and respect. Appreciate that pets do as much for you as you do for them. It’s not uncommon to find my mom early in the morning, sitting on the back porch drinking coffee with the dogs.
Nature is important to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
I’m not sure if I learned this from her as much as inherited it from her, but I’m always happiest when I experience nature, even if it’s just climbing a tree or driving in the country with the windows down, singing along with the radio at the top of my lungs.
Admit when you’re wrong. Be truthful and responsible for your own actions.
Say “I love you” often.
Tell the people you love that you love them and appreciate them. Nurture healthy relationships. But don’t let an unhealthy relationship sink you. You don’t deserve to be treated badly. My mother taught me not to be afraid to love, even when my heart has been broken. You don’t get just one shot at love.
You’re responsible for your own messes.
Clean up after yourself, in the kitchen and in life. Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.
Spiritual connections are important. Life is not a big coincidence. Take the time to observe and appreciate God’s mysteries. Every hardship, every relationship you experience has a purpose. My mother is the reason I’m more spiritual than religious. She taught me that my relationship with God is more important than the denomination of the church I choose to go to. My mother always told me I was her angel, sent to her from heaven. Now that I’m older, I’m beginning to understand how she felt. I feel blessed with the people in my life, and I’m learning to trust in God’s timing.
Work smarter, not harder.
The simplest solution is usually the best. Think things through. It’s okay to ask for help, but you’re more capable than you think you are.
Girls can, too.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to keep up with my older brother. My mother taught me I can be just as smart and ambitious as him, AND still be feminine. She taught me I can play sports, get dirty, pee in the woods, curse like a sailor, get tattoos, and STILL aspire to be a ballerina if I so desire. She showed me I can be an educated, independent, career-minded woman and still be a wife and mother who loves to cook for her family. I just realized my mother might be Superwoman.
You are beautiful.
Appreciate your beauty. Be active and eat healthy and don’t measure yourself by a number or impossible standard. You don’t have to be skinny and blonde to be beautiful. Your beauty is unique. I remember looking at pictures of my mother when she was in high school and wishing so badly I could look more like her as a teenager. I was always baffled when she told me I was far more beautiful than she was. I still am baffled, but she helped me see beauty in myself that I couldn’t see before.