Lessons learned from mom

Published 12:56 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This mother’s day was a particularly poignant one for me. Instead of the last minute rush to order flowers or send a gift, I was in deep reflection, remembering my mother who passed away only a month before.

Although I’m a mother myself, I don’t often take the time to consider how mothers influence their children. Of course, there are the obvious ways, such as the material things we are able to provide, discipline and the genetic predispositions children inherit.

However, as I’ve been thinking about the way in which my mother shaped my life, it seems to me that the most significant impact came from simply witnessing how she chose to live.

Whether cautionary tales or strategies for success, watching her choices play out certainly set the path for my life’s journey.

Her academic prowess and lifelong intellectual curiosity made it seem a given that I would succeed academically. She never met a stranger, which helped me value people from all walks of life.

On the other hand, witnessing her marital problems and subsequent divorce helped me develop empathy for women forced into single parenthood and financial peril by unhealthy relationships.

I’m sure this is also what helped me be one of lucky ones who have avoided these circumstances.

Her willingness to fearlessly face both challenges and opportunities opened many doors for me. But the lessons I learned from watching her are what made it possible for me to walk through those doors.

So as mothers we should remember that the children are watching not just the positive examples that are on public display, but the inevitable mistakes we make and how we handle those.

They see not only how we treat them, our precious babies, but how we treat others that we might not hold so dear.

In the end, the most important influence I received from my mother was deeply ingrained in her. It is an unwavering sense of optimism.

I think this is the most important gift we can give our children, the idea that basically things are OK, and with perseverance and a little hard work, they can get even better.