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Life Lessons I Learned from My Mother
Being the last of eight children is a breeze. Being the mother of eight children is a challenge.
My mother became a mother in 1938 and had children in the house through 1983.
My father was an alcoholic and was not much help. They divorced in the 1960’s when a divorced woman was looked down upon in our small town community.
She still had five kids at home. She was a strict disciplinarian and used tough love many times.
I am so glad she did because it helped all of us face life head on with all the good and bad that entails.
From watching our mother, we learned how to take care of a home and children. We learned how to get a job and keep it (whether we liked it or not). We learned respect and how to treat our elders. She was a survivor and she passed that on to her children.
Pick Yourself Up, Wipe Yourself Off, and Keep Going
When I was a teenager, I did not care for the tough love approach. When things didn't go my way, I wanted empathy and sympathy. My mother might have empathized with me, but she did not show much sympathy when I was in a situation that was not life threatening.
I remember how I loved competing in District Choir contests. My senior year I did not make it to state and was crushed. It was a huge deal to me, and I was in tears. When I went home and told my mother, she told me there were so many other things in life I needed to concentrate on rather than my losses. She quite frankly told me, "Pick yourself up, wipe yourself off, and keep your head held high."
She was right. This lesson in showing strength through hiding weakness is still with me today. It is a great advantage to be able to show the world real perspective instead of whining about what I don't have. The wisdom in her words keep me grounded in what my true blessings are and keep me from complaining about things that will not matter in the long run.
Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You
With eight children, I am surprised my mother was sane in her old age. There were always arguments, struggles, and a feeling of getting revenge. When my brother and I fought and physically beat the tar out of each other, we were always trying to "one up" each other.
My mother brought us up in Sunday School and church. She had a grounded Christian faith, and she would sit us down and tell us the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." At the time, we might shrug it off but as we grew older, again, we saw the wisdom in those words. We realized it was much more work and hard feelings to figure out our little ways to gain revenge than it was to leave it alone. Now, he and I are great friends and laugh at our stupidity.
We also know how to treat others with respect. If we have a problem with a person, we figure out how to solve the problem instead of wasting our time on getting revenge or being angry.
The life lesson is to not waste your energy on those who purposely hurt you. Carrying around bitterness and thoughts of revenge will zap the strength right out of us. We are not doormats, but, again, her wisdom in using Christ's words have given us perspective.
How to Make a Budget
My mother had the best work ethic. Born and raised on a farm, having her own farm, and living in a city with a big family are only a few of her experiences. Through it all, she worked hard to make ends meet. We may not have always had what we wanted, but we did have what we needed. Leading by example, she passed the work ethic down to us.
With a large family, every cent was accounted for in the household. Frivolities were out, and levelheaded purchasing was in. As a pre-teen and teen, I babysat for a whopping five dollars a day or evening. I knew my mother could not afford to buy my school clothes. When I would see something I wanted, I would write it down and try to put the figures together to see if I could afford it. Sometimes I could, sometimes I couldn't. When I couldn't, I did not feel a big loss. I accepted it. I saved my money for only the things I either had to have or that I really wanted.
When I was about to get married, of course, I was consumed with my new marriage and how we were going to make it financially. I would make a menu each week and stick to it when I went to the grocery store. I cut coupons and went to the stores with the sales, even if that meant hitting each of the three grocery stores in town. Each time we had a paycheck, I had designated bills that were due with the corresponding paycheck. Her frugality is still with me today, and it keeps me from having eyes bigger than my credit.
How My Mother's Advice Made a Difference in My Life
My mother instilled great life lessons in raising her children. "Pick yourself up, wipe yourself off, and keep your head held high" has given me strength in difficult situations and kept me from whining about things that could have been.
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" has given me perspective and situational awareness of others. I think about what the consequences of my actions could be on others before I act on an impulse. I think it makes me a better mother, wife, friend, and co-worker, too.
Living on little money and learning how to budget on what money I do have has taught me to realize the real blessings in life that have nothing to do with material goods. My mother's frugal living has helped me keep my family out of unnecessary debt and allowed us to never go without things we need. Saving for a rainy day has saved us many times. The discipline she taught me with money has allowed me to have things for my family that I see other families struggling with because they do not know how to budget or save.
My mother gave me invaluable advice on how to live and be a productive member of society. All of her children have excellent work ethic and a great sense of self and honor. These are lessons that have made a world of difference in my life and aided in building my character. They are lessons I have passed down to my children, and I hope they pass them down to their children. I don't think my mother could have given me any better gift.
Dedicated to my mother. I sure do miss her and her wisdom. I love you, Mother, and thank you!
© 2012 Susan Holland