Saturday Stories: Things I Learned From My Mom

Since I was old enough to be as tall as my mom, people have told us how alike we are.  I have never thought that we actually looked much like each other, but our mannerisms, the timbre of our voices and our likes and dislikes are definitely similar.   If you were to call me on the phone and then moments later call my mom, you would have a hard time figuring out who was who.  If you were to watch us talk, you would see us make the same gestures with our hands and hear us laugh the same way.  If you were to ask us our favorite things to do, we’d both say cook, read and garden.  Alone in the family, we both love opera, cranking up classical music while we cook or drive, singing along to arias that we have no business, with our voices, singing along with!

However, there are deeper things that my mom has taught me, that have stuck,  for which I will always be thankful.  I thought, because tomorrow is Mother’s Day, I would share a few with you.

Mom taught me to serve willingly.   When I was young, Mom was always serving on one committee or another.  She helped out with PTO fundraisers, she edited Officer’s Wives’ Newsletters, she served in all sorts of positions at church with ladies, teenagers and children.  Always, she followed through with any assignments, doing her best, giving 110%.   Everyone always knew they could call on her to help.

Mom taught me to be organized.  She was never a procrastinator.  If she had to teach Sunday School, that lesson was planned as soon as she got the assignment.  If she was having a dinner party, the menu and schedule for that night was written down at least a week in advance.  She told me that in school, her papers and projects were done and ready to hand in within days of the teacher giving the homework.  Some of this was due to her being a worrier.  Planning and preparing helped her sleep better at night!

Mom taught me to work hard.  From the time I was old enough, I was given chores and expected to do them.  She showed me how to change the sheets on my bed when I was five.  I still remember how frustrated I got trying to get that last corner of the fitted sheet over the mattress.  She made me work on it until I could do it.  I was eight when I started cleaning my own bathroom and wash the dishes.  If I didn’t do a good job, she would send me back to redo the task.   When I tried to cheat on a task, she was there to teach me that a job worth doing was worth doing well.

Mom taught me to take care with my appearance.  Mom took time to look good every night when my dad came home from work.  When they went out together, she made sure their clothes were pressed, mended and ready to go.  She “put on her face” every morning before I even got up.  In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing her without make up when I was young.

Along those same lines, Mom taught me to be ladylike.  Manners were extremely important.  Not only did we always say please and thank you, there was no coarse language spoken in my presence.  Often I was told, “young ladies do not do that” and so I didn’t.  Dresses were worn for church, concerts and traveling.  Sitting tall, crossing my ankles, not pointing, using the proper fork, serving from the right…all of these things were just what we did.   I remember sitting in church next to mom when I was about five or six.  I became fidgety and was twirling my fingers.  Mom quelled my actions with a look and I sat still for the rest of the service.

I cannot say that there was any one moment of teaching or any single great lesson that I learned from Mom, but so much of who I am I owe to her.   I love you, Mom.

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