everything i learned from my mom, i learned by reading between the lines.

3:49 PM


today is my mother's 60th birthday. it's hard to believe that time is passing so quickly. i have a hard time grasping that i am soon entering into my 27th year. i feel old…i can't even imagine how 60 feels. hahaha.
anyone who knows my mom knows she is full of quirks and funny sayings. recently, while i was complaining to my mom that 27 felt old and that i wasn't looking forward to it, she replied with, "beats being dead!"
classic "my mom" wisdom.


so what do you say to the woman who gave birth to you and brought you up?

well today, on her 60th birthday, i would like to reflect on how she has been a great mom in ways i never could understand as a younger version of myself. she taught me many great lessons without saying many words. she has been my mom for ALMOST half of her life and i have watched her, and i have learned.


first, i should mention that my mom and i are very different. she processes things internally while i process verbally. she is happy to sit quietly and i usually can't shutup. she is great at math and numbers whereas i am an artist who hates boring stuff like that (lol). she enjoys staying home and i like going out. she generally keeps to herself with a small pocket of company around her whereas i am a social butterfly who needs a billion people in my life. we really are very different. so what have i learned from her? i'd like to outline the 10 greatest lessons that i have learned from my mom and rather than make things super sappy and lamesauce, i am going to be honest because what is love if not vulnerable and honest?



10 things i have learned from my mom:

1. life doesn't go as we plan.

my mom hasn't had an easy life, but who really has? i guess people who inherited large piles of cash at a young age. they probably have it pretty easy. but for the rest of us, life can be pretty challenging. my mom planned out her life as best as she could and watched it become something else entirely. she probably dreamed of marrying a strapping young tradesman who was on the up and up in the job field, having two beautiful and talented children, working for 20 years, racking up the dough, and then cashing out and moving to their beach house down south. (i don't know if this was actually her dream, but that's my best guess). instead she got years of financial hardship, a sick husband who could no longer work, the burden of being the breadwinner to two kids, years of prescriptions and doctors visits, questions without answers, dreams going awry, and christmas' where she could hardly even put gifts under the tree. sounds depressing…but life is real like that. does that mean my mom has thrown in the towel and quit? nope. she works. she enjoys her mini-vacations. she takes care of her home. some days are tough, but some are great…and i enjoy seeing her appreciate all she has. despite the fact that things didn't go as planned, they could always be a lot worse. my mom appreciates what she has. she has taught me to dream but to also plan. life is amazing but it's challenging. sitting around waiting for handouts will result in me probably getting nothing.



2. modesty is about being comfortable in my own skin, not about how other people see me.

sometime in my teen years, i was on a search for self that involved wearing mini skirts and belly tops. being in youth group and also being attention seeking in general, i was often receiving comments from boys telling me i dressed inappropriately. one day i told my mom all about the situation and how i was frustrated because i just wanted to wear what i wanted to wear, geez! i didn't really know where i stood…i didn't want to be perceived as a slut but i also didn't want to dress like a grandma…and i didn't know what to do. my mom probably said something like, "to hell with them!" because that's a typical retort my mom would say, but she also instilled far more wise words than that. she told me not to dress for anyone else or to care what anyone else thought of my clothes or my body. she told me all that mattered was that i felt good about myself and that i was comfortable. for a young girl, this was important. did it mean i became a nudist or a hooker because my mom didn't tell me to cover up? no. i became someone who had such a positive relationship with fashion. dressing in what i thought was cute. dressing classy. wearing vintage cut clothes. enjoying dressing up. having fun with it. my mom never shamed me or created a feeling that i should dress for men (whether they approved or disapproved) or dress for people's opinions. i never knew at the time how much that would help me…but i think it meant the world to me at that time. i was trying to figure out what i liked, and she helped me continue on that search with freedom. i don't dress trashy. dressing trashy has a motive for getting attention. and i don't dress frumpy. because being frumpy is trying to NOT get attention, which still ends up dressing for other people. i am somewhere in the balance…and i am happy there :) thanks mom!


3. being pretty isn't everything.

my mom never cared what people thought about her. i repeat, my mom never cared what people thought of her. how rare of a quality is that in a woman? i swear, everything rolled off her shoulders. for most of my life, my mom rocked her mom jeans and her northern reflections sweatshirts. she rarely wore makeup. she didn't really know what to do with her hair. she wasn't really focused on it. i somehow turned out to be quite the girly-girl, but i also know when to let loose and let live. i can just as easily throw my hair up and not wear makeup. i don't feel pressured to look a certain way, although i do care a lot more about this stuff than my mom ever did. growing up and raising me (her only daughter), my mom cared more about stuff like this: what are your grades in school? what does your teacher think about you? what are you going to do with your life? how do you treat people? are you being fair? what are you good at? do you spend time doing those things? how will you provide for yourself? what kind of people are the people you hang out with? what kind of people are the people you are dating? my mom cared about that stuff. you know, stuff that kind of matters.



4. a small handful of great friends is better than a crowd of mediocre ones.

this is a lesson i am only really recently understanding. my mom keeps her loved ones close. the rest? not so much. growing up being the attention-seeking, social butterfly that i was, i considered everyone a friend and mostly everyone a good friend. only as time has passed and i've watched friendships fizzle out, have i realized that having some close kindred spirits is a lot happier of an existence than having 500 so-called friends. the big crowd isn't going to stay by you through thick and thin…they are just there for the free stuff. lol. i am thankful for my close friends. i am so blessed to have them. and i care about the distant friends and even the many acquaintances, but it's OK to invest my time in mostly just the close ones.

5. you need to let go.

ya. we are all still learning this one, even my mom. but it's still a lesson i have learned about by watching her. people come and go, stuff happens, you end up disappointed, life isn't always fair, but you've gotta move on. a lot of life is just learning the balance between holding on and letting go. i don't have this one down…at all…but i appreciate my take on this from watching my mom deal with stuff.


6. laughter is the best medicine.

my family is funny. i don't even care what anyone says. my parents are hilarious. my extended family is just as funny. there are no uppity attitudes in my family where we gather around in the parlour and sip tea. we joke and laugh and get through the ups and downs of life with mutual great senses of humour. my parents truly deserve their own reality TV show - that's how funny they are. i see their pain and their disappointment and then 5 minutes later i see us laughing and i know we will all be okay. laughter may be a defence mechanism but it's the best one we've got!

7. focus on what makes you happy and be real.

my mom enjoys the simple things in life. hand her a beer, put her at a patio beside a pool, turn on some classic rock, stick her favourite family and friends around the table and shine the sun down - that is her paradise. she has never pretended to enjoy things she didn't. she has never been "high society" or gone on cruises to look successful or sent out christmas cards with perfect family portraits bragging about whatever has happened that year. what's good for her is that SHE knows her kids are at least half-decent people and that she has put food on the table that week, and that she got to have a few moments to herself to enjoy a bath and a good book. she is just simple. i am probably ANYTHING but simple, but i try to navigate back to the simple as much as possible. my mom never over-complicates anything. keep it simple, and don't be an A-hole. that's probably her motto.

8. work hard.


at some points in my childhood, my mom was working 3 jobs to make ends meet and still came home and cooked dinner and cleaned the house. enough said.

9. love hard.

my absolutely favourite thing about my mom is that she is not controlling or jealous or needy. she is super chill. when i got married, she never stuck her opinions in. she never used money to try and sway my choices to meet her own tastes or opinions. she has always respected my boundaries and given me my space. she trusts me. actually, she has always trusted me. she trusted me at parties, she trusted me with boys, she trusted me whatever i was doing. she always told me she would trust me and take my side until i gave her a good reason not to. if you want to raise a strong, confident woman - trust them and their choices…it teaches them to trust themselves.

10. be teachable.

my mom taught me a very tough life lesson without even purposely doing so. i was a pretty demanding person growing up (probably still am…haha) and it was usually my way or the high way. i stuck to my guns. i was always able to back up any opinion i had with hardcore evidence and convincing arguments. i have ALWAYS been like that. a lover of truth, through and through. always looking for the answers and trying to figure out what was right. when i was a kid and teen, i would look at other moms, having tea parties and going to the spa with their daughters or doing other mommy/daughter things and i would get resentful. why didn't my mom do that stuff? why didn't my mom spend time with me like that? one day i was very upset and brought these things to her attention - demanding an answer as to why she wasn't being more "mom-like". when i consider this scenario now, there were a thousand ways my mom could have responded. "don't talk to me like that, go to your room", "you are young and don't know what you're talking about", "shutup, i just worked 9 hours to put food on the table and a roof over your head and you are being a brat", *burst into tears and ran away*…etc. etc. but instead this is what my mom said, "i don't know how to be a mom." i was SO furious at this response and a pre-teen meltdown ensued. i cried and cried. apparently other moms had received their "how to be a perfect mom" training manual and my mom's got lost in the mail. why did i get stuck with the mom who had no idea what she was doing? but then my mom said something else. she said she was sorry and that she would try harder. when i reflect on this memory, i can't even count the ways it shaped me as a woman. this is my mom - probably one of the very few who could admit right to her kids that she had no idea what she was doing half the time. she never ever painted a perfect picture of life or motherhood. a lot of it was hard, a lot of it was challenging. but it was worth it to TRY to improve things. to keep at it. to be honest about our shortcomings, yet strive to be better. she knew when to say sorry. she knew when to admit she was wrong.


if my mom had of always acted like a know-it-all, i would never have become a person who questions things, and tries to fix them. i would have never learned to think for myself. i would never be able to succeed on my own because i would constantly be relying on her for support and answers. my mom did the most selfless thing a mom can do: raise her daughter not to need her there. and yet, here i am - 26 years old - still needing my mom. but i don't need her money or her constant assurance or advice before i can make any decisions of my own. i need her laughter. i need her hugs. i need her dancing while i look on embarrassed. i need her jokes while my brother and i roll our eyes. i need her to say "i love you" at the end of our phone calls. and i also need her to know that despite not knowing how to be a mom, she managed to be the very best she could be. i am proud to be her daughter and to be able to take all that she has taught me and someday pass it on to my own kids.


happy 60th birthday mom! you're the best! :)



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2 comments

  1. Amazing Sam. SO heartfelt. I teared up mid #10 :)

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  2. Wooooow I teared up as well! I read the whole thing and I never do that!

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