Seven Life Skills I Learned from My Mother

May 9, 2017 - 5 minutes read

I’m remembering my mom today. Though she died more than twenty-five years ago, her influence on my life was enormous.

When I was young, every day after school I would enjoy a snack and a two-hour conversation with my mom. Our conversations would last until she served dinner at 5:30 pm sharp (unless Dad arrived home later). This continued through my early teens. The value of that time I spent with her is immeasurable.

  1. I learned how to cook. Food has always been important to me. I realized when I was very young that if I knew how to shop for groceries and how to cook with the right ingredients I would be the master of my own food destiny.  I especially enjoyed cooking cheese blintzes with my mom. She prepared the cheese stuffing. I had the fun of frying the skins. And, of course, I most enjoyed the dinners created by our joint efforts:  Cheese blintzes with sour cream.
  2. My mother was a great cook, but the best food was always for “the company.” Fortunately, mom knew to always prepare more food than “the company” could eat. I used to wake up early the next morning, before my little brother, so I could finish off most of the leftovers. To this day, I follow my mom’s lead and make a little more than I expect “the company” to finish.
  3. From my mom I not only learned the value of taking good care of myself, I learned the importance of following good advice. For example, she stressed that I should brush my teeth at least twice a day. But because I didn’t always follow her advice when I was younger I now have a number of tooth implants, She also taught me to shower every day and not only do I follow that advice (thankfully), I find that is where I do my best thinking.
  4. My mom taught me to drive carefully. She hated driving. She couldn’t wait until I turned sixteen and had my own driver’s license so I could drive her around. Alas, when I was fifteen and a half I “borrowed” my mother’s car without permission. A friend with a license drove us to the beach. My father discovered my illicit trip (sand in the car?) and postponed my driver’s license until I was sixteen and a half. Poor Mom. But to this day I always pay strict attention when I drive.
  5. My mother instilled in me the value of being generous to others. She always offered a kind word or helping hand to anyone who needed it. To carry on her legacy, I founded a philanthropic organization to help children in need fulfill their potential.
  6. My mother taught me how to garden. She also taught me to dream big and have patience. As a kid I grew a twenty-four pound banana squash (see the photo above). Later this year, my publisher, Clavis Publishing (an international publishing house based in Belgium), is publishing my children’s book Benji and the Twenty-Four Pound Banana Squash.
  7. My mom taught me that I should value everyone no matter their gender. Specifically she insisted I should have a few boys as friends. When I was ten I wanted to invite only girls to my birthday party.  “No,” Mom said, “you have to invite at least one boy.”  So I invited one boy.  And a dozen girls.  In my twenties I began to make friends with men.  Now, some of my closest friends are men (though I still prefer women).

Enjoy your Mother’s Day on Sunday, hopefully with a lunch or dinner, surrounded by relatives, friends, and good conversation. Maybe even include a few male relatives or friends. if your mother insists.


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