Last week, I shared with you the Lessons Learned from My Father. While many of the lessons learned from my mother are similar, today I share with you the wisdom I have gained from her.
“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is, and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong.” ~ Donna Bell
I learned to be myself.
One of the most important lessons I learned from my mom was to be true to myself. I struggled a lot through school battling with peer pressure and bullying. I was fortunate to have a mother who understood what I was going through and who really listened to me. She was always there to comfort me when I came home in tears. She was always there to pick me up when I failed.
Above all, however, she encouraged me to stand up for myself and not succumb to peer pressure. “You are beautiful. You are loved. Don’t let their jealousy change who you are as an individual.”
I learned the fundamentals of leadership and service.
My mother was always eager to help. She was my 4H leader as well as a room mom, volunteering to help in the classroom whenever necessary (building floats for the annual Cranberry Festival, holiday parties, etc.). Through her example, I learned the value of leadership and volunteering.
Leadership capability is a pretty accurate indicator of success in an individual. Leadership skills include proactivity, responsibility, empathy, creativity, vision, and public speaking skills. As I stated last week, kids learn by osmosis.
In other words, they will copy what they see us doing. As parents, we can help nurture leadership qualities in our children by giving them opportunities to take responsibility for themselves and their pets and by encouraging them to lead discussions in small groups like book club, and to share their talents with others.
I learned the importance of a family meal.
Growing up, we sat down to dinner together most every evening. It was a time to come together and discuss what was happening in our lives. We discussed plans for the weekend and concerns for finances when money was tight.
Countless studies have shown the positive influence that sharing a meal together as a family has on children. Of course, when I was a child electronic devices were unheard of, but today they are a huge distraction. Consider these suggestions for connecting with one another around a meal:
- First: no TV, no cellphones, and no tablets.
- Begin with grace. If you’re not religious, have everyone share something that they’re grateful for that day.
- Family news: everyone takes turns sharing something positive and negative that has happened to them during the day.
- “Got any stories?” This is a tradition that Patrick and I have had for a few years. Each person is expected to bring something interesting to the table that they’ve read or heard during the day.
I learned the value of preparing home cooked meals.
Every August, my brothers and I would accompany my mom to Dillard where we would spend the day picking fruits and vegetables. We had only a small garden ourselves and the farms in Dillard provided us with the food we would need for the next year. Doesn’t sound really exciting, but we all looked forward to it.
We were always a stinky, hot mess by the time we were done. Mom always stopped at Bear Creek on the way home so we could cool off in the water. For this reason I love little side adventures and unexpected surprises when traveling.
When we got home, she would spend the next week preserving and canning the produce we brought home. It was such a joy to come home from school to see rows and rows of delicious canned peaches and spicy beans that lined the counters.
I learned the importance of holiday traditions.
Instead of setting out the Easter baskets by our bed or in the living room, my mom always created a fun hunt for them. Adding a scavenger hunt to anything turns it into an awesome, memorable tradition. I’m not sure there’s anything more fun as a kid than a scavenger hunt.
On Christmas Eve, my mother would bake our favorite dishes for a buffet style meal and invite our neighbor Mr. Cole, our grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles to our home. The following day, we would load the car and drive to her parents where we would spend the day with our extended family. I’ve always attributed Christmas with a huge family gathering as a result.
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How about you? What lessons have you learned from your parents? What examples do you hope to provide for your children? Share in the comments. 🙂