Life Lessons I Learned from My Mother

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Nine Life Lessons I Learned From My Mother

Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter. SuperStock / Getty Image

My childhood was probably pretty typical for 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 our chief chauffeur ushering us to and from school and church youth events. Our Mom's full-time job was making sure her children became the best people they could be. I'm honored to share the nine most valuable lessons our mother shared with us to live your best life.

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Have a Balanced Diet

Mother and daughter eating in garden
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Mom made sure we had three square meals every day. She understood 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. From this, I learned the importance of eating a balanced diet and honoring my physical body's nutritional needs.

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Importance of Gratitude

Thank you written on sand
Mehmed Zelkovic / Getty Images

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 always expected. Grace was said before each mealtime and bedtime prayers were a nightly ritual. From this, I learned the importance of gratitude and blessings.

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Proper Hygiene

Mother Giving Daughter a Bath
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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 seconds before dropping you off at school. 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. From this, I learned to respect my body and also not to do things halfway.

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Not Everyone Is a Neat Freak

Mother and Daughter Making a Bed Together
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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 abide. 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. My older sister and Mom are 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. From this, I learned that some things in life are simply more important to others.

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Old Things Can Be Made New Again

Materials Needed for Darning a Sock
Richard Clark / Getty Images

Mom kept a small sewing basket filled with her darning supplies at the side of the couch. 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. From this, I learned that an old thing could be made as good as new. This was my first lesson in recycling.

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Neighborly Kindness

Mother and Daughter Making Cupcakes

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.  From this, I learned about feeling pride for my accomplishments. As a bonus, I learned about neighborly kindness.

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Frugality and the Value of Money

Caucasian woman writing on paper in store
Blend Images/John Lund/Marc Romanelli / Getty Images

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 mother had instilled this principle into her mindset. 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. From this, I learned the value of money and not to take things for granted.

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Love of Outdoors and Nature

Girl Doing Cartwheels
Sri Maiava Rusden / Getty Images

Mom taught me the joy of being outdoors. The backyard was our favorite playground. Mom would encourage my older sister and me to play outside. She taught us how to do cartwheels 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. Afterward, we would release them back to the yard grasses. From this, I learned the importance of breathing fresh air and came to respect nature's smallest creatures.

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Natural Instincts and Nurturing

Caucasian mother playing with baby on changing table
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When I was ten years old, my mom gave me a brand new baby sister. My role in the family changed from "baby of the family" to "big sister." I never really embraced the "middle kid" label. My sister and I had been concerned 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 learned of our mother's pregnancy, I felt a mixture of relief and joy. With a new baby in the house, my sister and I had to learn lots of new skills. How to change a diaper was just one of many things I learned about caring for babies. From this, I began to learn about the loving instincts of a natural nurturer.