Lessons from My Mother

In honor of Mother’s Day this past weekend, I figured I’d give my mom a little extra love and some recognition on the blog. After all, all I am and exactly who I am is because of who she is and what she instilled in me. My mom has taught me many lessons, some of which I will share with you now. None of these are her exact words, but lessons I’ve learned by watching her through the years and listening to the never-ending motherly advice.

{ My mom and I when I was a little girl. Circa mid 1980s }

Lessons from my Mother:

1. Don’t give up on your dreams, not matter what anyone says, your dreams are yours to achieve. (Every day I’m discouraged or frustrated I’m reminded of what my dreams are.)

2. No matter how tough things get in life, don’t give up. Life doesn’t always turn out how you planned, people will leave, you can loose a child, death will change things before you’re ready, and your plan might turn out backwards or on a different path than you hoped. Remain strong, even when life situations make you weak for a moment. (The hardships she faced as a young adult are lessons that have served for my brother and I, now as we become our own young adults. They make us strong and ready for what may come our way.)

3. Follow your heart, wherever it leads you.

4. Your choices are your own! Whether right or wrong, they are yours to live with.

5. Be a strong woman. I learned from her how many tough situations one can face early on in life, but with each comes a lesson and an experience to make you a stronger person.

6. You’ll get your heart broken – many times, but keep looking for what you want and what is right for you. (Following this one to heart by not settling and searching for what I know will make me happy).

7. Family comes first. No matter what gets in the way, always be there for them, stick up for them and fight for them above all else. (This is one I always try to live by.)

8. Put money in your savings, not matter how tough, be responsible. (This is one I’m still trying to figure out.)

9. The day you have children, your children come above all else: work, husband, family – anything else. (She gave up many things to put us first – always.)

10. Friends come and go, but if you’re lucky you’ll have one you can keep forever.

11. You get in return what you give. So if you want people to be there for you, YOU must be there for them. (Again an important and valuable lesson on how to care for people and be a good person over all.)

12. Relationships are tough, some days you will hate each other. As long as you communicate and fight for what’s really in your heart, the bad days will go away and your relationship will grow into old age. (I’m lucky to have parents who have been married for over 36 years as inspiration and role models.)

13. Family dinner time together is important. No TVs, no distractions, just family talk at the table. (This is something that although I’m in my 30s and my brother is married and almost a dad, a rule we still have.)

14. There’s nothing like human connection. Computers, emails, text messages have ruined the taste and meaning of life. If you really want to connect with someone, give them a call or visit.

15. Birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, holidays – are all important! It’s a time to show people what they mean to you and make them feel special. ALWAYS make someone feel EXTRA special on their birthdays. Give gifts with meaning and love. Do something nice or special for them. Let those you love know how you feel about them, especially on the “Special” days. (This is one she showed by example and one that I subconsciously seem to do.)

16. Cards are important. A gift without a card has no meaning. There’s more meaning in a card with no gift than a gift without a card.

{My mom with my brother and I as young kids, shortly after he joined our family.}

17. Sacrifices are important and needed for what you believe. They will pay off in the end. (My mom, well my parents, made many sacrifices to give my brother and I a private school education and send us to college. Sacrifices that years later she always says she’ll do again for what she got in return from our education, our values, and the friends we chose.)

18. Morals and values are important. No one can take those away from you. Always fight for them and stand strong for what you believe.

19. Your faith will carry you through hard times. Never let it go. Trust in God and all else will fall into place – in its own time.

20. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Whether it’s a guy, an employer, a job – no one can take advantage of you without your permission. If you feel you’re being taken advantage of, walk out! Nothing is so important that you must lose yourself, your beliefs or time for what you enjoy or who you love. (I was reminded of this various times when I had crazy jobs that thought work was life.)

21. Your family will always be there to support you no matter what. You parents will always be your parents, no matter how old you are, if you’re an adult or not. They will always be there to lean on, bail you out of trouble or lend a helping hand. (This is one lesson that seems to be repeatedly proven to me time and time again.)

{My favorite picture of my Mom as a young woman}

The final piece of advice I will share with you is probably the most trivial, but the most important to any girly girl.

22. Never leave the house without makeup. Always dress up, accessorize, be feminine and do not let yourself go.

Growing up in a Hispanic, Cuban-American family, I was taught never to leave the house without makeup. It’s just something we don’t do. A woman must always be presentable, dressed nicely and feminine. This is something I learned at an early age and to this day take to heart. I won’t go to the supermarket or drugstore without at least some powder and lip gloss. It’s not that we are high-maintenance or snobby, it’s just that we’re taught we should be well-presented at all times. I can be low-maintenance and still look like a lady. It’s an old-school thought, I’m aware, but one I appreciate and follow.

One of my favorite memories as a child is sitting on the toilet of my mom’s bathroom as I watched stared at her apply her makeup and get all dolled up to head out to a school fundraising dance or charity gala. To this day, whenever I am getting ready for a fancy event, I plop myself on the floor and do my makeup like I was painting on a canvas. It’s therapeutic, it relaxes me, and I enjoy it. It reminds me of how I would watch my mom as a little girl. Always, wishing she’d dab some of her powder, perfume and some lip gloss on me before she headed out the door.

My friends many times ask me for help when applying their makeup or for tips. I don’t even really know how to apply makeup on someone else, only on my own.  I’ve had people as me if I’ve taken lessons or who taught me to apply makeup. The honest answer is I didn’t go to makeup, etiquette or modeling classes that might teach those things. My lessons were sitting on that toilet watching my mom in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I thought she looked like a princess. I took in every stroke and every application. I must have learned well, because to this day I still take as much enjoyment in the application.

{This is one of my favorite pictures of us a few years back on vacation in North Carolina for the Holidays.}

I still rely on her for fashion and beauty advice. I still can’t make a big purchase without putting it on hold and returning with my mom for her “expert” opinion. Though now with the help of technology, snapping photos and sending them her way have helped make some tough purchase decisions. I still run to her before making a big decisions, when I meet a new guy I’m excited about and when my heart gets broken – again.

I hope one day I can be as strong, supportive, patient, and fabulous to my kids as she’s been to me. I hope that my future daughter (if I have a daughter) can learn how do be girly from me, like I did from my mom. It could be a fun lesson to pass on through generations.

What lessons have your moms taught you? Which ones will you pass on to your little ones one day?


5 responses to “Lessons from My Mother

  1. I know your mother personally, and I have to say the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. You are both beautiful women. I am glad you have learned all these wonderful things from your mother. Someday you will be a great mother like your mom. Love you both.

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