6 Important Lessons I Learned From My Mom


I was driving along with the kids the other day, pondering Mother’s Day and what I could do for my mom. I thought of all the lessons she has taught me and wondered if my kids ever thought of those things with me. In a gushy, sentimental moment I said to them “Hey, what is the biggest thing you’ll remember about mom when I am old?” From the backseat I heard the 9 year old yell “IT’S A MERGE, PEOPLE!” and both kids completely lost it laughing. Well, at least they would remember THAT about my driving instead of the other saucy things I tend to say. 

But it really got me thinking about the things I’ve learned from my mother so this year, I decided to write this post in honor of her and her incredible influence on my life. 

6 Important lessons I learned from my Mom

Lesson 1
You can NEVER have too many themed towels. 

My mom LOVES towels. In our kitchens and bathrooms, they were decorations for every holiday, mood, season, you name it. Over the years, she has supplied me with hundreds of them, I swear. We have hearts for Valentines Day, flowers for Spring, seaside themes for Summer, holly for Christmas and more. It is a rite of passage each month to change them out and one of the things I love when I go to visit her is to see the stacks of face, hand and bath towels. From tiny to large, stacked or hanging neatly in a beautiful array. It’s incredibly comforting. 

Lesson 2
Make your bed in the morning the SECOND you get up. 

Mom says this will prevent you from getting back in and, she is, of course, correct. When I finally do manage to roll out of bed, the first thing I do is make my bed. To see it neat and made somehow kills the urge to climb back in. Another lesson she taught me that totally works: make it very difficult to get under the covers by piling 700 decorative pillows and blankets on it to keep it inaccessible. Genius!

Lesson 3
How to make perfect, delicious Reubens.

About once a year, my mom embraces our Irish & German heritage and pulls out all the stops in a 2-day process of making Reubens. She lives in her apron, cooking the sauerkraut with brown sugar, baking the corned beef with all the right spices until it shreds apart with a fork, buttering all the rye bread. Once everything is ready she makes an assembly line on the counter and lets me help stack each sandwich perfectly, putting a few aside and then wrapping the rest individually in tin foil so we could have them in the freezer to eat for the next week.

That night, she fries the sandwiches on each side before baking them in the oven until they are lava hot with the Swiss cheese oozing out. Then comes the pièce de résistance, the old school 1000 Island Dressing on the sandwich AND extra for dipping the edges. This is now one of my children’s favorite traditions. DELICIOUS!

If you want to try to make them, here is an easy recipe and video:
*Note, to make it more like my Mom’s, add some brown sugar and bake the kraut, and then put the finished sandwich in the oven for a bit so it gets crispy. 

Lesson 4
Tailored clothing will ALWAYS look good. 

High school was my time! I wore my Forenza sweaters with the V in back, 2 sets of socks with my Converse and, of course, I looked AMAZING. I thought paisley shirts and pencil skirts with my ankle boots were like, wicked awesome. But if I am honest, as cool as I wanted to be, most of the time I looked like a hot mess–even for the 80’s. Mom rarely stifled my fashion choices but I can still hear her saying “A nice blouse and pair of slacks is timeless and you will always look put together” as I rolled my eyes.

Fast forward 25 years later. I watch my kid walk out of the house pretty much in his PJ’s and realize she is right. A nice pair of jeans and cute top with flats is classic. As we get older, tailored clothes always look good. Mom’s DO know what they are talking about. Dang it!

My mother, Peg, and I– and a very important lesson

Lesson 5
Good manners NEVER go out of style. 

I have been hearing this since I was a child and it automatically plays in my head whenever I think of my mom. Anyone who knows her will tell you she is one classy lady. For my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, my mother gave each of her 8 children a plaque with this quote on it. It has saved me many a time and its truth is irrefutable. No matter what happens in your day, no matter what situation you are faced with, you can always be polite. I hang that plaque proudly in my home and say it to my own children all the time. 

The most important lesson I learned from my Mom is…

Lesson 6
You may not believe it when you are young, but someday your mother will be your best friend. 

My mom is the most important influence on my life as a mother, friend, daughter and person. We went through all the things mothers and kids do. From fighting with her, crying to her, laughing with her, seeking her advice, ignoring her advice, hoping she was proud of me, to seeking her approval as I moved through the stages of my life.

Now, in my 40s, I am hoping she is proud of how I am raising MY children. I hope that I am living up to her expectations and most importantly, honoring the tireless, exhausting and often thankless hours she put into raising me. I can tell you, without a doubt, that she is my best friend. The lessons she taught me throughout my life, the values she lives her life by as my example, are ingrained in me. I am proud to be her daughter. No matter how old I get, I know I will always be her little girl. But our relationship is different now, shaped by common experiences in different decades yet extremely special.

I didn’t believe her when I was younger but she was right. A mother/child relationship has to undergo massive peaks and valleys to evolve to true understanding and friendship. But when it does, you have incredible, tactile, heartfelt memories and a relationship built from your very first day in the world. There is nothing better. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy.
Thank you for being such an incredible influence on my life.
I love you,
Kristen Jaye-Bird