It’s been happening a lot lately.
I hear her voice, but it’s coming out of my mouth.
“Eat your vegetables, or you don’t get dessert.”
“I have a coupon!”
“Stop bothering your sister. She’s smaller than you. She doesn’t know better.”
I am starting to sound like my mother.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
I learned a lot from my mother (and my father too for that matter). Although I always cringed when she said that someday I would have a girl just like me, I am starting to realize it’s true.
Here are the most important things I learned from my mom:
1. Family comes first. My mom (and dad) made sacrifices to provide us with education, healthy food, a safe place to live and all the necessities of life. There were material things we didn’t need and couldn’t afford, and that was OK. But when it came to things like school and basic needs, my parents worked hard to provide for us. Their wants came after ours always.
2. Get a job. When I was 15, I started working part-time. I don’t necessarily think this is right for everyone, but it definitely taught me how to balance school, work, and all my outside activities. These are lessons that I still apply in adulthood as I balance my full-time teaching career, family, friends and writing.
3. Have faith. From prayer groups to church and eucharistic ministry, my mom is a fixture in her church. Today, I am a spiritual person. My mother taught me to have faith in God. When I look at a mountain range or my daughter’s beautiful smile, I know there is something bigger than me, even if I don’t go to church every Sunday.
4. Write about it! Moody and irritable, I drove my mother crazy from ages 13 to 17. (She might argue and say it was more like ages 8 to 20.) There were always journals in my house. Writing poetry and lyrics was an escape for my mother, and I took after her. Writing has not only been my solace, it’s been part of my profession. Teaching middle-schoolers to write and doing freelance writing have been experiences that I believe started with my mom’s influence.
5. Take a picture. “Here comes mom with the camera again.” I’d roll my eyes at so many family events as mom became the self-appointed family photographer. Even though I made fun then, I have hundreds of photos to look back on from my youth. Although I consider myself an amateur photographer, I am constantly documenting every moment with my daughter and stepson. I get the eye rolls from the boy, but he’ll appreciate it someday too.
6. Marriage is hard work. Don’t quit on your spouse. My parents went through a lot of ups and downs, but stuck it out and have been married and in love for 34 years. If you believe in each other, communicate, and invest time in your marriage, you can get through almost anything.
Do I agree with my mother on everything? Of course not. But I know she wanted what was best for my family.
My mom and dad have taught me how to be a good parent, spouse, and friend.
When I hear her voice come out of my mouth, I remember what my mom taught me.
And to that, I say, “thanks, mom.”
Jen Schneider is a middle school teacher and mom to two children.
Read her blogs every Tuesday on momaha.com
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