Five things My Mother Taught Me

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I suppose that Mother’s Day causes us to reflect about the significance of parenting.  Children learn more by what you do than what you say; and they are always watching.  If you laugh when someone is being mean or if you stress out about it, your children will pick up the same vibes.  Often they will mimic the same pattern of stress diffusion in later life.

So, on Mother’s Day I like to think about the things my mother taught me, either directly or indirectly. The 5 things that spring to mind are:

1) Always say yes.  By this, she meant always be open to new possibilities.  If you can’t say yes, say maybe.  You could say, “Maybe another time – in a galaxy far, far away and another dimension in space.”  Just think of some answer, other than no.

2) Always lay your clothes out the night before.  This saves so much time in getting ready the next day.  But it also turns into a habit.  This has saved me so many times.  I usually try to get everything done the day before it is due.  So if I am making copies and the copier breaks down, there is still a day to run to Kinko’s.  I still travel to get somewhere the day before, to avoid flight delays.  Having things done the day before, alleviates the stress of trying to compensate for problems that invariably appear at the last minute.

3) Family has the most important relationships you will ever have.  Your parents and siblings will have the history about you for all or most of your life.  They understand you and accept you, more than anyone else.  Take care of your family.

4) If a task is difficult, try harder.  Like many parents, she would reward us with money for good grades.  But unlike my father, who would give us a dollar for each A, my mother would give us $5 for all A’s.  Or nothing if you got, if you got just one B.  The reasoning is simple, “If you get 3 A’s and 2 B’s, you will settle for the $3.  You won’t try for the harder subjects.”  Don’t settle for less than your best, try harder.  Many things in life are all or nothing propositions.  If you settle for less, you get less.

5) Love is the only thing that really matters.  Love creates life.  Love is the emotion that binds a parent to feed, clothe and nurture a child for the first 20 years in life.  And love is the emotion that binds a child to feed, clothe and nurture a parent for the last 20 years in life.  Love is the feeling that makes us want to ease suffering.  Love is the feeling that makes us rejoice at someone else’s good fortune.  Love should always be present in the conversation. The last time I saw my mother, she said, “I love you.”  And I replied, “I love you, too.” 

After my mother passed away, we found papers and childhood drawings that my mother had saved all those years.  Among them was my 11th grade report card.  There were 6 classes and 6 grading periods.  I had thirty-five A’s and one B+.  To this day, I know that I missed out on my $5 reward, but it was a lesson well-learned.

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