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Week 19: Mom’s Lessons for Mother’s Day | Everyday Nostalgia

Lessons My Mother Taught Me | The Nostalgia Dairies Blog

I am sitting in my car, my coat wrapped tightly around me. I am shaking, but my tremors aren’t a result of the cold winter air. In my hands I hold a grainy black and white printed photograph. Small white lines create the edge of a tiny profile, and if I look closely enough, I am able to make out the graceful, faint curve of a spine and what appear to be arms and legs.

I am filled with wonder as I sit there, looking at this snapshot of my unborn child. For some reason, I had convinced myself that I was having a boy, but the photograph in my hands reveals a different truth: A girl. My daughter.

I am overwhelmed with so many emotions—fear, surprise, excitement, love, wonder—that I can’t look away from the image. I am holding, both in my hands and in the low depth of my belly, the proof that—in a few short months—I will become a mom. A mother. As I think of that word, I think of my own mother, and suddenly, the wonder of this miracle I hold is replaced with a completely different wonder:

How will I ever be as good of a mom as my own mother has been to me?

 * * *

I could probably write a book about how wonderful I think my mother is, but since I don’t have that kind of time right now, suffice it to say she is one of the most amazing people I know. And one of the best things about her is that she’s so much more than just my mom: She is my friend. She is my cheerleader (I can guarantee you that within minutes of this blog post being published she will text me telling me how great it is, as she’s done with every post since the first day the blog went live. Thanks, Mom!). And aside from my daughter Zoey, she is one of the best life teachers I’ve ever had:

She taught me to find beauty and wonder in everything.

She makes fairies appear out of nowhere, and she helps catch fireflies in jars on hot summer nights. She points out high-floating butterflies, and she notices slow-crawling caterpillars. She reminds me to always turn toward the sun. “There’s nothing like the feel of sunshine on your face,” she always says.

She taught me that I am enough.

I am 22, and a boy has just broken my heart. My mother drives down to my college to see me, to make sure that I’m okay. After she takes me to lunch, we sit in her car together, listening to a CD she brought with her specifically for this trip. “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” fills the space around us, and together we belt out, “I am strong! I am invincible!” It is raining outside, but the sound of the raindrops on the car are no match for the thunder of our words.

She taught me that laughter makes everything better.

“At least we’re still laughing,” she always says. When we are together, we laugh—hard. We are able to find humor in times of sadness. My daughter and I go to visit my parents, and we stay up into the late hours, talking and laughing. The next day we all wake up tired, and with the physical reminders of that laughter—tummy aches and salty tear stains on our cheeks—but it is worth it, because we are happy.

She taught me that life only happens if you make it happen.

I’m fresh out of college and not sure where to begin or what it is I should be doing. My mother comes to visit. One morning I find her on the floor of my apartment with newspapers spread out around her. She circles jobs I might find interesting, and I’m thankful for her help. “Because you’ve got to start somewhere,” she says.

She taught me that kindness matters.

There is a package in my mailbox, but there’s nothing going on in my life that requires a gift; it’s just another Tuesday. I open it and unpack all the little presents that are nestled inside. And then, at the bottom, I find a note written in my mother’s familiar handwriting: “Just because I can.”

She taught me to never to give up hope.

I’m lost and sick and fading away from life. It feels like I am drowning. My mother, who never wants me to be anything other than happy, recognizes my pain and, because I won’t speak up, she finally does. On a cold, January day she calls me, and in her actions and words and steadfast love, she says, “You can’t keep doing this to yourself. You can’t keep living like this. I need you to be healthy. Zoey needs you to be healthy. You need you to be healthy. I want you to love yourself and your life again.” Her words are what I need to hear, and because of them, I swim back to the surface of my life.

 * * *

Last Monday, my daughter Zoey lost her first tooth. I can only imagine it was an emotional—and extremely exciting—moment for her. I have to wonder about this because I wasn’t there to see it happen.

I was sitting in my apartment and eating my dinner when Zoey FaceTimed me to show me the gap in her smile where her tooth had once been. As I spoke with her, I could see my face down in the corner of my phone, smiling and happy and excited for this momentous occasion. I was glad my face wasn’t giving away the thoughts that were swirling around my head, ones that were crying out, It’s just the start of missing out on things like this…

As parents, there will be things you miss, things that will happen when you are not around. Because my daughter’s time is spent divided between two homes, I am acutely aware that the odds of me missing out on special moments like this greatly increase. Although I know this, knowing I wasn’t there to help prepare for the Tooth Fairy’s impending visit that night was just too much to bear.

After I hung up with Zoey, I kept my tears at bay long enough to call the one person that I knew would be there, waiting on the other end, ready to take my call.

She picked up on the first ring.

I didn’t even say hi. The only thing I was able to get out was, “She lost her tooth…” before I was a blubbering mess of tears. And there my mom was on the other end, saying, “Oh, honey…sweetie…”, and when I still couldn’t get out any of the words I was wanting to say, she simply said, “I know.”

My mother has taught me so many things, but most importantly, she has taught me the true meaning of what it means to be a mother: It means passing down lessons, making time, and simply paying attention. It means that your child’s joy is your joy, that their pain is your pain, that their life is an extension of your own. It means unconditional love. Being a mother means you always know exactly what it is your children need. It means knowing what’s in their hearts. It means always being just a phone call away. It means understanding so much that all you have to say is, “I know.”


 * * *

On a hot July day, the graceful curve of my daughter’s spine is finally placed in my hands. I pull Zoey close, and she wiggles her way into the curve of my own neck, nestling into the spot that she will eventually claim as her own. As I close my eyes, trying to take a mental snapshot of this moment, I’m reminded of that first black and white printed photograph, that cold air, and the question I asked myself: How will I ever be as good of a mom as my own mother has been to me?

Having Zoey finally in my arms makes this wonder disappear, and in its place, a determination settles in and an answer appears:

You will be. Just remember: You were taught how by one of the very best.

 * * *

Tell Us: What’s the best lesson your mom taught you?

Mom – You are strong. Funny. Independent. Kind. Smart. Selfless. Authentic. You are everything I’ve ever wanted to be, and you are everything I want Zoey to be. Thank you for all the lessons you’ve passed down and for the lifetime of love you have given me. Just so you know, and so you don’t ever have to wonder: You are the very best. I love you with everything I have.
Happy Mother’s Day.

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72 thoughts on “Week 19: Mom’s Lessons for Mother’s Day | Everyday Nostalgia

  1. This is a very beautiful piece. Your mother is a gift to the world, not just to you. Already, she has impacted the way you live your life and how you raise your daughter. Her goodness is rippling out into the world. I so understand what you feel when missing out. My children split homes as well, and I had been so used to being with them daily for years and years. It was a very hard transition. But, just as you, when they are with me, I have the power to create the environment and memories that we’ll share together into the future. Sometimes it’s nice to have more control of that; but there are definitely teeth at two house lol. I look at our time apart as my time to nurture myself and refresh for their return. P.S. I love the quote 🙂

    1. I agree with you that taking the time to nurture yourself during the time you have alone is so very important. Sometimes I think this even helps make me a better parent. And yes, isn’t that quote just great? 🙂

      1. Oh, definitely. Sometimes taking a 10 minute breather outside is enough to settle the nerves and be better. Everyone is happier in the end!

  2. This is such a lovely post. It brought tears to my eyes. Every day I feel so blessed that my mum is so amazing. I think for me the most important lesson she’s taught me is that I won’t always get it right as a parent but that’s okay. I don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent.

  3. This is such a sweet post. Sounds like you had a great mom! I do, too. My mom taught be to be selfless. To me, my husband and my kids come first because they are an extension of who I am. To nurture and take care of them, I am nurturing and taking care of myself.

  4. What a beautiful piece you have written and shared with all of us. Nobody is perfect doesn’t mean we are bad parents.

  5. Oh wow…this was really beautiful! My mother has taught me the power of unconditional love..and now I am trying to teach my kids…now teenagers…what that means. 😉

  6. This post made me cry! You wrote the stories so beautifully! Really glad I took the time to read it.
    Elizabeth |

  7. Oh my gosh, this is BEAUTIFUL. Your mother sounds wonderful 🙂

    My stepdaughter splits time between us and her mom, too, and she was at our house when she lost her first tooth. I immediately FaceTimed her mom so she could be part of the celebration. Though I knew it would be hard she wasn’t here, I knew it would be harder to not know.

  8. This is beautiful and reminds me of my own mom who departed this earth a few years ago. I’m so thankful she was the best mom ever and taught me everything I know about parenting and loving.

  9. Wow. I could barely read the end of this post through the tears in my eyes! This was beautiful and said so many of the things that I want to say about my own mom. I also totally understand the part about missing big moments, since my daughter has recently started splitting time between two homes and I have had to come to the same realization. I would have done the same thing in your shoes and called my own mom. This is such a beautiful tribute to your mom, and the ending has given me so much hope that I can be a great mother like my own mom since she has taught it to me. Thank you so much for this beautiful post.

    1. The past year has been such a challenge for me, and I think it will take some time for me to fully accept the fact that just because I’m not with my daughter all the time doesn’t make me a bad parent. Our daughters will be okay and we ARE great moms 🙂

  10. My Mama is in heaven and I miss her, but the lessons she put in my heart live on – daily! Thank you for this beautiful post and soon I will take a walk and let my heart remember.

  11. You are going to be an excellent mother. The lessons you have taken from your childhood will help you make magical memories with your daughter. Congratulations!

  12. This is so beautiful – I absolutely love your writing! “The nostalgia diaries” is the perfect name for your blog, because you capture nostalgia so profoundly and personally – something that’s so difficult to do, but so powerful when it’s done well! I wondered this Mother’s Day how having a child of my own before too long will make me rethink everything that my mother has done (and continues to do) for me – such an interesting shift in perspective!

  13. Moms are amazing. I love that part where she came to visit when a boy broke your heart. I remember when I was dealing with my first heartbreak and my mom shared her own stories and feelings from when she was my age.

  14. I love this piece. 💕 My mother taught me many things but the one that sticks out more than anything is unconditional love. As a teenager I was a handful yet she loved me regardless. I am proud to call her not just my mother but my friend.

  15. What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful mother. My mother has taught me many lessons, one of which being that it is never too late to start fresh. After two divorces, she put herself through nursing school as a single mom of 2 girls. She is a phoenix continually rising from the ashes of burnt up expectations and never losing her determination for a better life.

  16. I loved this post. Every mother is special and we all learn something from them. I never thought to put that in writing though. I think you gave me an idea 🙂

  17. This is so beautiful. Especially reading it in mother’s day week make it more special and appropriate.

  18. What a lovely, lovely post! And what a wonderful tribute to your mom. It sounds like you will be able to share her wisdom with your daughter!

  19. This is a beautiful post! I often think about how I can be a good
    Mother period. I didn’t have a mom and I have no reference but what I learn as one. No matter whether we’ve got something to learn from our own moms, we do end up doing it our way happy belated mothers day! xo, Maria

  20. You are an amazing writer! I was very touched by your post. Your mom must be so proud of you. Precious is the time we have with our mothers, cherish each and every one of those moments!

  21. aw! My daughters name is Zoey too! She’s 4. I can’t imagine how you must feeling missing out on things like that. But it sounds like you handled it with such grace and restrain. You’re OBVIOUSLY the best mom your Zoey could need. And I’m so glad that your mom was there for you.

  22. The things that your mother taught you are the exact things I strive to teach my children everyday! <3 <3

  23. I am not terribly close with my mum and I find it hard at the moment to think of something positive that she has given me. So all I can think of is that she always reminded me to see the funny side in a situation no matter how bleak it may seem. I had tears in my eyes when I read that you missed your daughter’s first tooth falling out.. As a mummy I totally get that.

  24. This is such a cute and sweet post!!! I could feel the love you have for your mother just pouring out of you in this post. I’m sure you are an amazing mother.

  25. Beautiful post! I think these are important messages to women in general, even those of us who aren’t moms.

  26. This is such a beautifully written piece! Made me tear up a little, as my own mum is exactly as wonderful and caring as yours. If I’m even half the mum she was I’ll be a great one! 🙂

  27. I’m too busy marveling at the three-in-a-row winning streak your family has on the female side to be jealous of you for having such a fabulous mom, Corey. Here’s the thing – I wish my mom and I were closer, but we’ve never been.

    I did learn from her, though, that birthdays are important. Birthdays never felt mundane. Mom made pancakes in our favorite shapes (triceratops aren’t easy to griddle), and everything down to the candles were our favorite colors.

    You have a champ to emulate, don’t you? On teams I coach, sometimes someone has to step into a role usually filled with someone larger than life. Know what happens? They rise to the occasion.

    Huh. Reminds me of a certain mom I know.

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