Things My Mother Taught Me

Photo by Karen Long Kern. (LtoR) My sister Mary, sister Cally, Mom, Me
Photo by Karen Long Kern. (LtoR) My sister Mary, sister Cally, Mom, Me

“I wondered if my smile was as big as hers. Maybe as big. But not as beautiful.”
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I know how hard motherhood can be. There’s the life lessons to teach, boo boos to kiss and cover with band aids, and those decisions you make that keep you up at night. It’s not easy. I think back on my mother and wonder, how did she do it? She was consistently loving, caring and yes, tough when she needed to be. She ran interference on my Dad once in a while, smoothing out those rough edges of his sometimes sharp personality, buffering us with soft words and a good piece of cake.

I’ve been thinking of the big and little things my mother has taught me over the years. Here’s a few pearls of wisdom she gave me that I’m truly grateful for.

1. Buy Fresh Ingredients. I made baklava one year for Christmas and it didn’t quite taste right. Mom took one bite and said, “Old Nuts.” She was right. They were old nuts I had lying around in the freezer. Never again. I always buy fresh ingredients, including nuts, when I bake at the holidays.

2. Cook from Scratch. My mom amazingly had a home cooked meal for us just about every single night. This was the old days I realize, but even when she worked, she cooked. I don’t remember a TV dinner (as they were called back then) or a pot pie ever in our house. She loved to cook and we ate good food, not always fancy, but still GOOD.

3. Money Isn’t Everything. My mom has gone through some very tight periods in her life. She was a depression baby, the first born to immigrant parents from Greece. She can make due on practically nothing. But she has shown me truthfully that all she ever needs has been given to her. She is a shining example of this.

4. Be of Service. Mom volunteered at church for everything. She cooked and served for the church ladies group, the Philoptochos, for YEARS. She served on the committee to build our church some thirty five years ago. Always involved, she set the example to give of ourselves and showed us that it will be returned- multiplied.

5. Go to the Beach. When the going gets tough, go to the beach. Mom loves the beach and once we hooked my dad on this, we went every year. She’d don her bathing suit, get a tan, and relax for a whole week. She instilled in us a love of the beach and to this day, we all LOVE the ocean.

Mom, front and center, white cap, at the beach
Mom, front and center, white cap, at the beach

I know I am blessed to have another day with my mom. I cherish the memories we are still creating and am grateful to have such a loving and caring mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

PS. I’m blogging over at the Orthodox Christian Network! Check out my mother’s day post there. Click HERE.


Join me on my graceful journey.

17 Replies to “Things My Mother Taught Me”

  1. Happy Mother’s Day Joanne! Your post makes me think of all the lessons, big and small, that I’ve learned from my mother and other essential women in my life. What would life be without them? As Gary and I host our annual MD bash I am thankful for them and miss those who have passed. One of my mom’s axioms that I just couldn’t get on board with was “always wear heels”. Sorry Mom!

    1. I don’t think I could get on board with high heels either! Those days are gone! Thank you for sharing about your mother. As I get older, I realize more and more how truly awesome my mom is. Sounds like you’re there too.
      Love seeing your pictures from the beach. Keep sharing!
      xo Joanne

  2. Happy Mother’s Day Joanne! I am really missing my mom today. I can’t think of any ‘pearls of wisdom’ she gave me to pass on here, but my mother ALWAYS did her nails and they always looked beautiful! Even when she was in hospice, the nurses all remarked on how beautiful her nails were. My sister, my niece and I made sure her nails looked gorgeous for the funeral, too. I guess one thing she taught me was never to pay someone for something you can do yourself! Ha ha!
    Enjoy your day with your mom and kids!

  3. Happy Mother’s Day, Joanne!! Those were delightful tidbits – thank you for sharing them. You are blessed to still have your mother, and I know you know that. I think mothers should be around forever, like the superheros they are. I miss mine terribly, but the wonderful memories she has left to me will live in my heart forever.

    Be blessed today and always,
    Marianne xox

  4. Wonderful post, Jo! Those memories are spot on, particularly the baklava…and the beach! Thank you for taking such good care of mom in our absence…and Happy Mother’s Day to you (Happy Anniversary too!)! xoxo Calliope

  5. Aw, such a wonderful post, Joanne. With one exception, our mothers taught us the same things. In Kansas we didn’t have a beach, but for all things–happiness, good feelings, fresh air, sunshine, etc.–it was Go To The Garden. 😉

    1. My mother always loved to garden and grew a few tomatoes and basil. These days it is marigolds and we will get ready to plant them soon.
      I hope you had a nice Mother’s Day Marylin 🙂

  6. Good Morning Joanne, I somehow missed this post , but happy to be reading it today!! Belated Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom. Wow, reading this made me appreciate my own mom much more than I already do. How appreciate of you to recognize many of the things that so many of us take/took for granted. My mom always cooked with fresh ingredients and made all her food from scratch. I actually grew up not knowing any differently. .My boys loved going to Grandma’s to get “homemade” chocolated pudding in little dessert cups In fact as they got older, tbey made special trips just to see what she had made that day( and of course to eat)! . Because she lived through the Depression, I also grew up knowing that “money isn’t everything. ….and for that I am grateful. You must feel so blessed, as I am, to have such a wonderful example of a mom, and a grandma for your kids, in your life. Enjoy the moments……Thank you for sharing

    1. Cindy, thank you for your lovely, kind words. I love chocolate pudding and it is awesome that Grandma made that for your boys.
      Depression babies learned to make due, and passed on some good lessons.
      Thank you for always taking the time to stop by.

  7. Great Post Joanne! Hope your Mother’s Day was special…you are so fortunate to still have your Mom. My Mom is gone 10 years now and I miss her everyday. She and your Mom would have been good friends!

      1. I did, thank you. Interestingly when I tell my mother the good things she has done, she doesn’t quite believe me. Recently I was able to show her some old newspaper articles about a blind lady she used to read to (20 years ago). To us her reading to someone seems very kind and thoughtful. To my mother it was just something one did, not deserving of any special praise.

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