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Lessons I’ve Learned From My Mother

581756_10151608283817577_211505479_nEverything I learned about beauty, I learned from my mother. I’m not talking about when I learned to apply liquid eyeliner, or how to wear my bangs; I’m talking about inner beauty. Beauty advice I received from my mother never had anything to do with makeup or skincare. She never put an emphasis on the importance of anti-aging and she never pressured me to diet. Without fail, my mom’s advice was always about feeling, and believing I was beautiful, no matter what anyone else told me.

So today, on Mother’s Day, I want to share with you all some of the most enduring life lessons I’ve learned from my mother.

Beauty has nothing to do with how you look.

My mother taught me that to be a woman is to be inherently beautiful. She taught me that each person has a choice to be beautiful, but not everyone is. That’s because beauty comes from inside. It’s not about having clear skin, or being a size 2. Beauty is in how you treat others, and how you treat yourself.

A woman’s beauty is formed by the delicate balance of self-love and confidence and a willingness to put others first. As a special education teacher, my mother has touched more lives than she can even comprehend. In the 30+ years she’s been working, and in the 40+ years she has been a mother, she has put others first constantly. The good she does for others makes her a better person. Oftentimes, the good she does goes without thanks (as many teachers can relate), but she doesn’t let this bother her. That’s because she doesn’t put the worth of her life’s work on what other people think or say, because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that she did her best.

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

This is somewhat related to the previous lesson. My mother, much like me, has never been a small woman. She has been smaller, but even at her smallest, my mom’s thighs touched and she had shape. Side note: this whole obsession with a “thigh gap” is absolutely ridiculous. If you have one, great! If you don’t then you aren’t supposed to. Simple as that.) Anyway… As my stepdad always jokes, “I like my women to provide warmth in the winter and shade in the summer.”

Society puts unbelievable pressure on women to be absolutely perfect. Growing up, I was called every name you could imagine. As I got older, somehow the insults bothered me less. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized this is because my mother always made me feel beautiful. When I decided to make a change and started on my weight loss journey, she did nothing but encourage me. Everything I am in my life, I owe to my mother.

To love life, you must first love yourself.

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My mother loves herself. Although this may not have always been the case, she always made sure I never knew any different. Even during the most difficult times, she has the ability to focus on the good. (Check her out in the photo to the right in her “50 Shades of Grey” Halloween costume…)

I firmly believe that this is easily the most important example a mother can set for their daughters: love yourself. Don’t take part in any self-deprecating speech (“I feel so fat today”) in front of your daughters. Otherwise, you’ll be planting seeds of self-doubt that they will spend their entire lives struggling to eliminate. There’s already so much that forces us, as women, to second guess ourselves. Magazine covers, music videos, social media… The last thing we need is our mothers to contribute to our feelings of “not being good enough”.

Never make any apologies for who you are.

My mother is outrageous, hilarious, loud, and without question, she lives life to the fullest, even if that means making a fool of herself. In a perfect world, everyone would like me. In the real world, that’s impossible. All that matters is that at the end of the day, I like me. The rest will figure itself out.

554078_234608629970844_1113199161_nOne of my favorite memories is from a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Shellman Bluff (where my mom lives). As a tradition, every year, my mom gets the family (and friends) together to ride on a float (she decides the theme), and we have a blast. Note: We are usually the only family in the parade. Most others are organizations or businesses from around the area, but my mom doesn’t care.

The year I’m referring to is the year my mom and sister planned a theme around LMFAO’s “Party Rock” and we all wore green shirts that said “Sorry for Party Rockin’ the Bluff” with animal print spandex and big ‘fro wigs. To say we made fools of ourselves would be an understatement. When my mom excitedly told me we made the cover of the newspaper, I was mortified. However, it was in this moment I realized how happy my mom had been and how little she cared if people thought we looked ridiculous, because all that mattered was that we had a BLAST. We made memories that we will always look back on and laugh, and if anyone out there didn’t “get it” then they weren’t our problem.

My mother makes people laugh constantly, and she’s not afraid to live life. I hope I follow in her footsteps.

For a woman, independence is everything.

Growing up, my father was in and out of my life. My mother went into a marriage with the idea that it would be a partnership, and she would have help raising her daughters, but that’s not what happened.

Thankfully, my mother had her education, and a career that she was passionate about. In hindsight, realizing how she somehow balanced motherhood (making breakfast every morning, attending every softball game, choir event, Girl Scouts outing, keeping a clean house, cooking dinner every night, etc.) with her professional career (working all day, and oftentimes on the evenings and weekends) makes her seem like a superhero in my eyes. I’m a 26 year old woman with a husband, 2 dogs, a career, and no children, and sometimes I can’t keep it all together.

My mother struggled to do her best and provide while never once complaining. Because of her example, I have full confidence that no matter what happens in life, I will be okay. Because I am my mother’s daughter, I will always figure it out.  Thanks, mom.

I could go on and on about all the things my mother taught me. Whether it’s how to make the best sweet tea or how to stand up for yourself when others put you down, the lessons I’ve learned from her will stay with me throughout my life. Whenever I become a mother, I hope to be half the woman she is. With that, I want to say happy Mother’s Day to every mother out there, and most notably to the woman I am honored to call “mom”. You’re not only my mother, you’re my best friend, and I can’t imagine my life without you. Thank you for always setting a great example.

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  • Catherine M.

    This was amazing! Your mother is a great woman. Great post!

  • Cheryl Watts Jacobs

    Your mother is indeed one-of-a-kind and a wonderful woman. I am glad to call her my friend. Not only is this article a life lesson for young women still growing and learning, it’s a refresher for married gals who need to remember that even through tough times, life is to be enjoyed. Your mom definitely knows how to do that. Thank you for a beautiful tribute to an amazing lady. 🙂