My mother and I did not have a perfect relationship. A lot of mothers and daughters don’t. But there were some very positive aspects to it. My mother brought me up to be an independent, self-sufficient woman. There was no pressure to have grandchildren or get married, only to be able to support myself and be happy.
She also gave some great practical advice on a regular basis. This started when I was so young, I don’t even remember the first time she said some of the things that I have heard in my head all of my life. So as we approach Mother’s Day, I want to share three of my favorites.
YOU DON’T WANT TO BE HAPPY ALL THE TIME
My mother always said that if you were happy all the time, you wouldn’t appreciate being happy. Think about that a minute. Think about all the pain and struggle you have had in your life. Now take away all the strength and wisdom you gained from those times. What kind of person would you be? How great does it feel when you come out of a difficult time or finally reach a goal that you have been trying to hard to achieve? All-the-time happiness can never come close to those feelings of pure exhilaration.
PEOPLE WHO SPEAK BADLY OF YOU ARE JUST JEALOUS
I think my mother genuinely thought I was the smartest, prettiest child in the entire world. In reality, I was not. That didn’t stop her from telling me that daily. When other kids called me names, (Apple Face was a popular one!) or said things about me behind my back, she always told me they were jealous. Jealous because I was smarter, had more friends, was prettier.
I have carried that with me my entire life. Fortunately, I don’t run into it my private life. My friends are the best! Professionally, the corporate head games and position struggles have been a part of every job I have ever had. It can wear you down, unless you take what my mother said to heart. If you are not viewed as a superstar, no one feels the need to take you down.
I even take it one step further and translate it a little differently. I keep the quote, “Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep,” taped to my computer screen. It’s amazing how seeing that makes me laugh and just keeping moving on.
EVERY GROUP OF PEOPLE HAVE BAD PEOPLE AND GOOD PEOPLE
Just a reminder, I grew up in an all-white, predominantly Catholic small town in the Midwest. We were not Catholic. When I was around seven, I had a classmate tell me I would never go to heaven because I was not Catholic. My mother took this news from me and instead of taking the easy route and saying, “All Catholics are bad,” she said, “All races and religions have good people and bad people. She is not a good one.”
Simple right? Not to a small child, hurting from being told she was not one of God’s children and heaven was no longer an option.
She repeated that simple phrase throughout my entire childhood. So I went out in the world, not judging by anything but behavior. Not race, not sexual preference, not religion. In my life, you were judged by who you were. Not what color or religion or who you loved.
Simple lessons, but ones I remember almost every day of my life.
Happy Mother’s Day to those women who shaped our lives. And to those mothers just starting out. Sometimes the simplest lessons are the ones your children will carry with them for their entire lives.