24: The 33 Things My Mother Taught Me

24: The 33 Things My Mother Taught Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

The 33 Things My Mother Taught Me

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

My mother passed away from pancreatic cancer two years ago. Naturally, the grieving process has been hard, but I’m now to a point where I can think of all the wonderful things my mother tried her best to instill in me during the glorious thirty-three years she was in my life.

I often catch myself doing something that my mother taught me—be it an unorthodox organizational technique or a quick and sensible hairstyle—and I chuckle to myself remembering how wondrously idealistic some of her advice was. But that was my momma—a sweet, spirited woman who was never opposed to looking silly or going against the norm in order to solve a problem. She even went so far as to wear a fanny pack, because her number one rule was to be prepared.

My mother kept useful things close at hand for those “just in case” moments, whether they turned out to be a cut, a bruise, a toothache, or a zombie apocalypse. Everything was neatly organized into individual plastic sandwich bags (along with a few extra bags just in case, of course). And although I’ve forgone rocking a fanny pack, I’ve been known to carry my purse essentials in separate Ziplocs. Thank you for that tip, Momma.

Here are thirty-two more awesome tips, tidbits, and life lessons that my mother shared with me throughout the years, one for each year I knew her as it turns out. Some of these things, she simply told me. Others are things she had to “shake” into me (figuratively, and sometimes literally). All of these things she showed me through her beautiful spirit and shining example.

1. Always clean the house before leaving on a trip. It can be a huge letdown to stay at a luxurious hotel for a week, and then come home and be reminded of your own housekeeping inadequacies.

2. Staying at home with your children (as I do) is a true gift that many parents don’t have the opportunity to receive. Don’t take it for granted.

3. Keep a flashlight on your key ring.

4. Keep a roll of paper towels in your car.

5. There’s nothing more important than spending time with family.

6. If you can’t tell anyone about a particular activity, it’s probably not worth doing.

7. Reading is fun.

8. Always keep an apple corer and a melon baller in your kitchen utensil arsenal. You never know when you’ll need to make a fruit salad.

9. Have an option to weigh? Write down the pros and cons. It may seem cheesy, but it works.

10. Who in the heck cares if you wear white after Labor Day? Wear what you want.

11. Be sweet.

12. You’re never too old to learn a new trade.

13. Traditions are a wonderful thing. Be they huge family dinners or regular holiday rituals, traditions allow you the opportunity to create memories that children will carry for a lifetime.

14. Never be afraid to try something new. Doing the same thing all the time is boring.

15. Learn to bake.

16. Save curse words for when you’re really, really, REALLY angry. That way, they have more impact. I never heard my mother curse until I became a teen. When she did it, I was scared to say anything to her for the rest of the day. Her point had been taken.

17. Always make time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

18. Keep wet wipes in your purse. They come in super handy.

19. Ask for help when you need it. It’s OKAY to need help sometimes. (I’m still working on this one.)

20. Your husband is the leader of the household . . . or at least make him think that he is.

21. If you have multiple children who like to tamper with their gifts under the Christmas tree, write a code name on the gift tags. I was Frosty, my sister was Rudolph, and my brother was Dasher. The trick is remembering who’s who on Christmas morning.

22. Seafood is awesome.

23. Clean up as you go. There’s nothing worse than cooking a full Southern meal, sitting down to eat it, getting the sleepies, and realizing that you have a sink full of pots and a grubby counter that aren’t going to clean themselves.

24. Learn how to change a tire.

25. Positive thinking and prayer can lead to miraculous things.

26. Good music can be the soundtrack of your life.

27. There’s nothing wrong with faking it till you make it.

28. Wearing someone’s nice hand-me-downs or decorating with thrift-store items can actually enhance your frame of mind and put you in a headspace to go for the things you may not have now.

29. Be different.

30. Always continue to educate yourself.

31. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right. The day my mother yelled, “THIEF! THIEF!” after she witnessed two men stealing from the front table of Macy’s was the day I learned this. (Mom, they could’ve KILLED you!)

32. If you lie, you’ll probably cheat; if you cheat, you’ll probably steal. Don’t lie.

~Kesha Phillips

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