Live within your means, pay your bills on time, and take good care of your credit.
When I was 23, that $350 handbag seemed absolutely necessary whether or not I could actually afford it. But after I started paying heavily for these kinds of mistakes, I saw that mom was right: financial freedom and peace of mind really does trump immediate gratification.
Never be ashamed to be different.
I grew up in a fairly conservative and homogenous town, and I always felt like my family just didn’t quite fit in, my mother especially. She was fantastically eccentric with a brazen DGAF attitude, but I secretly wanted a sweet and demure PTA mom. It took many years for me to realize that most people actually adored her for this unique spirit, and I was blessed to have a mother who wasn’t like everyone else.
Pick your battles.
She always told me not to waste my time and energy on trivial matters. Then you can fight to the death for what’s really important.
There’s always a solution — sometimes you just have to think outside the box.
What’s a mother to do when she has twins, and it doesn’t make sense to go back to work and pay for childcare? She opens up her own in-home daycare! At the age of 8, I thought nothing of my mom’s new business venture to accommodate my new siblings, but now I realize that this idea was both brilliant and incredibly ballsy! She taught me that you can always make it work.
Never take yourself too seriously.
Life is just too short.
Boyfriends will bring drama.
Perhaps this is just something all neurotic mothers tell their teenage daughters to prevent them from growing up too quickly — but she was right! My first boyfriend at 13 proved to be nothing but a huge distraction and giant pain in the ass.
Gratitude brings happiness.
The other night I had my yearly emotional breakdown, which involves me sobbing on the phone to my mom while eating copious amounts of ice cream. She listened patiently as I recounted all the ways in which my life was a total mess. When I finally ran out of steam, she simply said, “Sarah, maybe you should focus on what you have rather than what you’re lacking….”
She was 100% right, and I instantly felt like an unappreciative brat. There was so much to be grateful for, and I had no right throwing this little pity party for myself. Somehow, my mom always finds find the silver lining. I’m still trying to get there.
Trust your gut.
Growing up, if I was torn over an important decision, I’d go to my mom for the answer. She would tell me that if I just listened to that little voice inside me, I’d always be given the right answer. Now as an adult, I can confidently make my own decisions simply by trusting my instincts. It hasn’t let me down yet.
When you make a commitment, you follow through.
From the ages of 6 to 15, I spent most of my waking hours at my community theater. 98% of the time I loved it, but then there were those times when the long hours got to me, or I wanted to go to a party instead of rehearsal. My mom would remind me that I’d made a serious commitment to my director and fellow actors, and letting them down was not an option. This taught me discipline, focus, and endurance. And to this day, keeping my word is paramount.
It’s better to give than to receive.
My mother is one of the most selfless people in the world. As a social worker, she cared deeply for those who had been carelessly tossed aside. Every day she’d come home from this job that took everything and gave almost nothing in return, and she’d then give the same amount of unconditional love and attention to her family and her friends. Helping others made her happy, and that‘s why she is so cherished.
Follow your bliss.
I am so incredibly lucky to have parents who always supported my dreams no matter how lofty or impractical. While most put pressure on their children to follow purely sensible paths, my mother gave me permission to explore, make mistakes, and pursue that which made me truly fulfilled. The only way I can show my unending gratitude is to try and make her proud.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms that teach their daughters these indelible lessons every day. Love you mom!