7 Things I Learned From My Mother


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Saturday is housecleaning day, not because there’s some magical formula about it, but because it’s the only day there’s enough help to get it done.


It really is better to date only Catholic boys. (Presuming you’re a Catholic girl, of course.)


Food is one of the biggest expenses for a family of six, but that doesn’t mean you should just accept it. Mom taught me to garden, can, buy a whole animal and freeze it (if only I had room!), and perhaps most importantly, to shop at Aldi first.


The best cure for a thief-in-training is to march her back into the store and make her apologize to the cashier and hand the candy back. (Humiliation is a good teacher.)


There’s nothing like a deadline for motivation. (Mom presented me with an ultimatum shortly before I left for college. She pointed to the stacks of papers lying around my room and said, “You will have those stacks cleaned up and out of this room before you leave for college!” I had it done in a week. And I couldn’t believe how far back some of those papers—homework, mostly—were dated.)


Sometimes, you’ve got to kick your kid out of the nest. I was the one who was terrified of change. (Was? Is!) I didn’t want to learn to drive, didn’t want to get a job, didn’t want to go to college. Mom’s proverbial boot on my bottom was the only thing that made me take the plunge.


When a child is going through a crisis of faith, the best reaction is not a self-indulgent cry of “what did I do wrong?” but to listen and wait for divine guidance. I remember sitting on the stoop one afternoon in college, fretting about the existence of God (a crisis brought about by dating an atheist; see #2), and Mom not freaking out, but answering that if you go back to whatever brought the universe into being—the Big Bang, whatever—if you trace it all the way back to the beginning, eventually you have to ask, “What caused that to happen?” And the answer to that question is God. Beyond that, she said, everything can be believed one way or another, but the very fact that something caused it to happen was the proof of God. It was a mind-opening moment, and a lesson that I still have to revisit sometimes.

And so I take this inadequate forum to say: thanks, Mom. I love you.


And now it’s your turn. What have you learned from your mother?


Shared with Jen’s 7 Quick Takes Friday.

11 thoughts on “7 Things I Learned From My Mother

  1. The best chocolate comes from Belgium.
    And when it comes to family; when you can’t love the act ~ focus on loving the person.

  2. I have learned so much from my sweet, wonderful mother. At the top? If you ever want to find someone who loves you, start by looking in the mirror: If that person doesn’t love you, no one else will.

    Cheers! MJ

  3. Growing up, my grandmother’s FIRST question when we were dating a new boy was “Is he Catholic?” The first time he met my husband was at Mass. During the sign of peace I hugged her and whispered “LOOK! HE’S CATHOLIC!”

  4. I think your mom is absolutely right about the proof of God! It always puzzles me when people think that if the mechanisms of creation can be explained by science, it proves that God doesn’t exist–if it’s all a matter of elements and scientific laws, well, who made those elements and wrote those laws? I am in awe of those elegant foundations.

    I wrote about some Things I Learned from My Mom for Mother’s Day 2002, before I was a mother myself. I still think about all of these lessons regularly!

  5. Andrea

    From our mom I also learned to respect life. It began, of course, as the lesson that life begins at conception. However, as time has passed, for me, “Respect Life” encompasses all of humanity, even when I disagree on a moral level.

  6. Jeanne

    Come August, Mom will be gone 10 years, but what she taught me is priceless.

    No one ever was, or ever will be, as cool as Johnny Cash.

    Less might not be more, but it sure makes it easier to clean.

    Music is universal.

    Dogs are smarter than most people. And they will never share secrets whispered in their ear.

    A great book will stay with you long after you are done reading it.

    Never lose sight of who you are. People will try to change you, mold you, browbeat you into seeing their way of thinking, but you are the one who has to live with yourself.

    Be kind.

    My Mom might be gone, but I will never stop being her little girl. Lessons are still learned, even after all these years. (Man, “all these years” was certainly painful to type, especially since there are days when I still feel like a little girl.)

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, Kate!

  7. evanscove

    Excellent lessons! The one about not freaking out if your children go through a crisis of faith is especially true. If you lose your cool, you’re just increasing the chances of losing them…

  8. Saturday morning chores were a weekly thing for us as children. We would clean house and do yardwork all morning, and then the afternoons were all about relaxing and reading. I think the afternoons were all the more special because we had to work to get to them:)

    One of the best things I learned from my mother is the art of entertaining.

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