Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years have come from my mother. Though she probably doesn’t know that.
We’ve never shared one of those made-for-TV moments where the mother sits her daughter down at a certain crossroads to share sage words of wisdom. Instead, the important lessons I’ve acquired from my mom have come through subtle observation and example, as I’ve watched her try to lead the best life she can while raising two daughters on her own.
1. Always put your best foot forward
In all of my years, I’ve never seen my mother sloppily dressed or with a hair out of place. She takes pride in her appearance and taught me to do the same because when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good about yourself, you project positive vibes and make a good impression on those around you. This is an approach that’s best practiced daily, not just before an important job interview.
2. It’s never too late to start
My mom went to college in her fifties when she got laid-off from her job and in recent years, has started looking for a partner to share her life with via online dating. Despite her initial hesitation at going back to school and looking for love again, she went for it anyway and her gutsy approach taught me two things: first, that stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there takes real courage, and second, that it’s never too late to start. If you want to learn something new, find love or follow a dream, now’s the time.
3. Love has no limits
There’s no limit to my mother’s love for her family. From chauffeuring us to appointments and making us separate meals, to nursing our wounds and listening to our never-ending dramas, my mom always puts her family first. She has been there for all of the good and all of the not-so-good, throwing her schedule out the window at a moment’s notice to accommodate our needs. Her love for and commitment to her family goes beyond “no matter what” and reminds me that there’s no limit to the things you do for the people you love.
Unlike those parents who try to force their children onto a pre-approved life path, my mother has always given me the space I need to be myself. She doesn’t try to change me or pressure me into doing things that I’m not into.
And even when she hasn’t agreed with some of the iffier choices I’ve made over the years—the nose ring and fluorescent hair, dropping out of journalism school, delaying my degree to take that extra year abroad—she hasn’t tried to deter or guilt-trip me. My mom remains steadfast in her support of my decisions and encourages me to just do me. She trusts me to forge my own path and I’m grateful for her continued confidence in me.
We may have never had that Hallmark mother-daughter heart-to-heart (and we probably never will), but I’ve learned so much from my mother just the same.