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Life Lessons I Learned from My Mother

Spiritual Lessons


My childhood was probably pretty typical of a young girl growing up in the fifties and sixties. Mom stayed at home with us kids while Dad went to work. Mom was burdened with mundane housework and playing referee to frequent arguments between my older sister and me. She was a member of the PTA and signed on as an assistant with the local Brownie troop. She was also our chief chauffeur ushering us to and from school and church youth events. Here are a few life lessons I learned from my mother.

Mom taught me how to:

1. Eat My Vegetables

Mom made sure we had three square meals everyday. She understood about the food pyramid and made sure we ate everything in balance. Vegetables were not my favorite food group and I especially didn't much care for cooked spinach. But, if I wanted dessert after supper (there was always dessert) I was required to empty my plate, including eating vegetables I didn't like.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of eating a balanced diet and honoring my physical body's nutritional needs.

2. Say Please And Thank You

Mom made sure I never took anything for granted. Any small gesture was to be responded to promptly with a thank you. Politeness and good manners were expected always. Grace was said before each mealtime and bedtime prayers were a nightly ritual.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of gratitude and blessings.

3. Clean Behind My Ears

What mom isn't concerned about proper hygiene? My mom was one of those mothers who would wipe off a speck of dried on food from your face with a bit of spat-upon-tissue just before dropping you off at school. (Mom, if you're reading this, YES, you did!) It was important to her that her daughters were clean and looked presentable. After my evening bath I would be given her inspection, often tugging gently at my ears she made sure I had scrubbed myself spotless. I could never get away with just wetting the toothbrush, she always knew if I tried to take a shortcut.
What I Learned: From this I learned to respect my body and also not to do things halfway.

4. Make My Bed

I shared a room with my sister. We had twin beds. Each morning our beds were supposed to be made before leaving the house for school. It was a rule that I seldom abided. I figured by evening I'd be messing up my covers all over again. What was the point? Each day my bed would get made, but not by me. Both my sister and Mom were neat-freaks, my unmade bed was a bother to them. If my sister had time in the morning she would grumpily make my bed for me. Otherwise, after school I would discover a nicely made up bed in my shared bedroom by my mother.
What I Learned: From this I learned that some things in life are simply more important to others.

5. Darn Socks

Mom kept a small sewing basket filled with her darning supplies at the side of the davenport. When I was very little she would let me sit near her and watch her as she wove the threaded needle back and forth, repairing the bare spots in my father's work socks. When I got a little older she let me try my hand at darning a sock. It wasn't my first time with needle in hand, my sister and I use to craft necklaces using the buttons from Mom's button jar. Darning socks was fun then, but neither Mom nor I darn socks any longer.
What I Learned: From this I learned that old things can be made as good as new. This was my first lesson in recycling.

6. Bake A Cake

I'm not sure, but I think the reason my mother taught me how to bake a cake from scratch was to earn a Girl Scout badge. We measured out all the ingredients required before mixing everything together, baking soda, salt, sugar, eggs... etc. When we realized we didn't have enough flour I ran over to the neighbor's house asking to borrow a cup of flour. Dessert was extra sweet that night for supper.
What I Learned: From this I learned about feeling pride for my accomplishments. As a bonus, I learned about neighborly kindness.

7. Comparison Shop

Our household survived on a frugal budget. Mom often expressed to me that my father worked hard for the money he earned. She was determined not to spend it foolishly. My mother pinched and saved as much as she could. She knew how to stretch a dollar. I suspect her own mother had instilled this principle into her mind-set. My grandmother lived through the depression and knew difficult times. Mom took me to the grocery market and gave me a math lesson on the value of large or small eggs depended on the retail price. We compared the price of different brands of peanut butter by calculating the price per ounce to see what was the best value. She didn't always buy the cheapest items, she understood quality and would buy the best if it what was at all affordable. My mom helped me to become a saavy shopper.
What I Learned: From this I learned the value of money and not to take things for granted.

8. Enjoy Outdoors

The backyard was our favorite playground. Mom would encourage my older sister and me to play outdoors. She taught us how to do cart wheels and somersaults. Other times she would give us glass jars to collect grasshoppers and beetles inside. We would use a hammer and a nail to puncture air holes into the lid so our crawly bug captures could breathe while we got a closer look at them through the glass. Afterwards, we would release them back to the yard grasses.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of breathing fresh air and came to respect nature's smallest creatures.

9. Change A Diaper

When I was ten years old my mom gave me a brand new baby sister. My role in the family was swiftly elevated from "baby of the family" to "big sister." I never really embraced the "middle kid" label. There had been some concern by the family for awhile because my mother had been feeling ill. I remember her vomiting and spending mornings and evenings shut up in her bedroom. When my older sister and I were informed of our mother's pregnancy I was emotionally filled with a mixture of both relief and joy. The birth of the new baby was much anticipated. How to change a diaper was one of many things I learned about caring for babies from this experience.
What I Learned: From this I began to learn about the loving instincts of a natural nurturer.

Thanks for being a fabulous role model MOM!

Nurturing Mother Tributes
Life Lessons I Learned From My Father
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