Things My Mother Taught Me

People who know me, even if just a little, know that it’s no secret I love my mom. At night when I go to sleep in my dorm I miss her terribly, between classes I call her to tell her about my day, and last quarter I went home every weekend just to be with her and my family.

But like most children who’ve spent ample amounts of time with their mothers growing up, I’ve taken mine for granted. What I’ve failed to realize is that while I’m off at school living for myself, my mother is living for my brother and I. I had not noticed all the sacrifices she has made to take care of me. I’ve taken my mom’s cooking, cleaning — and most notably, her guidance — for granted.

“Take your jacket, it’s cold outside,” and “Call me as soon as you get there,” are the classic “nags” that our protective mothers have doled to us over the years. We’ve tried to tell ourselves that our mothers are just watching out for us, but there really is no consolation for when they forbid us from going out to the movies with friends because we have a paper due the following day.

In that moment, they seem like cruel, emotionless robots who want to make us unhappy. Other times, we see our mothers as too old-fashioned to sympathize with us, and we see ourselves as superior and more knowledgeable because they “just don’t understand.”

But now that I’ve aged and matured (well, a little), I’ve been able to reflect back on all of my mom’s nags and warnings and instead see them in a new light: as advice and wisdom. And I haven’t realized until now that I’ve unknowingly adopted her principles; that her advice and wisdom has followed me into adulthood. And because of her teaching and discipline (and as cliché as it sounds), I am who I am today.

What seemed like silly words back then, are now my most cherished commandments from one of the most important people in my life.

“Never go anywhere alone.”

All overprotective mothers say it, but it’s a really important piece of advice. I’ve never gone anywhere by myself, especially at night, and I’m not only safe because of her but I’ve also managed to hold some meaningful conversations with the people I’ve traveled with.

“Always take tissues.”

My brother and I, and even my dad, have made fun of my mother for being paranoid and germophobic. But over the years, carrying little packets of Kleenex in my bag have come in handy. I’ve used tissues as a cure for a sudden bloody nose in class, as a sanitary wipe down on lunch tables, and even as a weapon against vicious spiders.

“Being impatient and whining about it isn’t going to make things go any faster.”

This one still applies to me even today, whether it be yelling at slow cars while driving to a meeting, or complaining of my home computer’s slow internet. I always stop the negative thoughts when I hear my mom’s words echo in my head. Honking and arguing and pouting really won’t get you anywhere, but it will put you in a bad mood. I’m learning to cope with the way things happen, in the amount of time it takes to happen.

“Honor the commitments you’ve made.”

It’s because of my upbringing and these words of wisdom that I’ve kept the friends I’ve made. You can’t build solid relationships with others if you’re not a solid person. My mother has always taught me to be loyal to my friends and stick to my word, and even though there may be a valid reason for breaking off plans with someone, it’s still a broken promise. My mom has learned from experience, and now I have, too, that the best friends you’ll make in life are the ones you know will be at your side in a moment.

“I don’t care if you’re the best. I just want to hear that you tried YOUR best.”

When it comes to making decisions regarding my life, my mom has always stood back and let me call the shots, and for that I’m the independent person I am today. And when I’ve become too competitive and invested in what I’m doing, my mom has always reminded me to focus on myself. You can’t achieve happiness if you keep comparing yourself to others, and she’s taught me that it’s actually rewarding to have failed but known that you’ve given it your all.

It’s strange to travel back to the days when you thought your parents were trying to bore you to death with their lectures, only to realize now that you actually live by what they’ve said. I’ve been told that I’m grounded, focused and loyal, but all credit is due to my mother and what she has taught me.

She didn’t have to bestow all her wisdom upon me, but she did because she loves me and wants to see me succeed.

Perhaps if you ponder over your own morals and values, you’ll find reason to thank your mom too.