Photo by Kim Baile
By Noelle Mering
In honor of Mother's Day, we put a question to our TOH readers on social media asking for the best lesson or wisdom they had learned from their mothers. The answers give insight into the powerful, lasting effects moms have and also provide practical ideas of things we might incorporate ourselves.
My mom set an example that I have carried into my mothering of the importance of physical affection. She worked the night shift at the hospital and as a consequence her sleep schedule would often extend into the afternoon. When she would wake she would call out, "Babies?" beckoning my sister and me to come and climb into bed with her. We would cuddle and take turns singing songs. She loved The Beatles and knew many of theirs by heart. Even into my teen years she would sweetly pepper my days with hugs and forehead kisses, telling me how much she loved me. I think this is a real power of motherhood: to communicate -- first as a feeling, and then as an idea and deep conviction -- that we are each irreplaceable and loved in a way that does not count the cost. It is this love of a mother that points us to the gratuitous love of God.
My mom, Irene, on her wedding day
More motherly wisdom...
"My mom always said that if she didn't correct me (in whatever poor behavior or habit) that society would and that it would hurt 100x more when society would correct me. And she was so right...learning these little hard lessons growing up made for a much easier adulthood." Emily
"My mother loved good books and taught all six of her children to love reading. We read aloud, we dressed up as the characters, and we cooked the meals they cooked in the books. As we grew older, we read the classics and then would sometimes watched the movie versions. We organized our own books clubs with friends and found new books on our own. Now with my six children I'm passing down the tradition of loving books." Christina
"Whenever I would ask my mom a question about a heavy or awkward topic, she never lied to me or concealed the truth but instead would ask me, 'Are you really sure you want to know?' It gave me such a sense of autonomy, but also encouraged me to reflect on the weight of knowledge. I think it was one of her best tactics to teach me how to think about the power of learning." Katelyn
"My mom taught me so much about laughing and embracing the craziness of mothering young babies. My baby can come in covered in mud, track it all over the house, and maybe throw down a bag of flour in the middle of it all, and she would pick that baby up, laugh, and wash all the chaos off, sending the baby on his merry way. A few weeks ago my toddler wanted to wear two pairs of overalls, one on top of the other, before heading out for the day. I had no problem saying yes to it because my mom instilled in me a strong sense of, 'It's a phase, embrace this!' It has been invaluable to me as a mother." Meg
"Train the baby elephant so that the grown one is well-behaved." Colleen
"My mom taught me a lot about strength in the face of adversity. She watched her husband die from cancer, took over his business after his death, and still managed to keep our family together and thriving. She taught me to keep moving even when you want to quit and to know that God always has a plan, even if it isn't always clear what it is." Carrie Gress
Carrie Gress with her mom and brother on her wedding day
"When I was overly anxious about something my mom would always gently remind me, 'There will always be someone more beautiful, more talented, smarter etc. than you.' It sounds harsh but it taught me to truly marvel at God's creation, to not expect perfection from myself and to be content with the array of gifts God granted me." Angela
"My mom did not gossip or sit around talking about people negatively. I noticed that about her when I was a young girl. The other moms would be carrying on about someone or something and my own mom was quiet or would gently tsk tsk. I believe it was that example that rubbed off on me and I always had a distaste for gossip. Not that I never have, but I generally walk the other way if I hear it. And now I am noticing (happily) that my teenage girls are to inclined toward gossip either. I think it's a wonderful legacy my sweet mom left behind." Lynn
"My mom showed her love easily. She would put her hands softly around my little face and look at me with a tenderness that only can come from a mother's heart. She's like a walking soft hug." Amy
"My mother has always been great with kids, but watching her with my own has catapulted my admiration to new heights. She always sees the details, the sweet little nuances of childhood that are lost on so many grownups. Some people love and some people love well. She's taught me to listen and to look and to cherish the little things. I'm so grateful to her for that." Blythe
Blythe's mom, Tina, with her 8th and 9th grandchildren