Celebrating 80 big ones … and 5 things my mom taught me.


We celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday over the weekend. There was lots of old-fashioned fun with cake, candles and family!

Today I reflected on just five of the hundreds of things my mother taught me.

1. My mom taught me patience. When I was a little girl she taught me how to knit. She is a righty and I’m a lefty, so there was lots of frustration on my part. After dropping many stitches and finally getting my tension just right, I finally got the hang of it. Today the rhythm of clinking two needles together is still music to my ears.
2. My mom taught me about the power of stories. I still remember sitting at the laminate kitchen table when I was probably 8 or 9. It was at that kitchen table I first learned she was a little girl when German soldiers marched into Holland during World War II and stayed for a number of years. Mom would tell me how she peeled buckets full of potatoes every day. It finally dawned on me the story wasn’t really about the potatoes. It was all she and her family had to eat.
3. My mother taught me love is in the little things we do for others each day. I’ll never forget how she spent the first two weeks with us after our Katie was born. In the middle of the night we’d bump into each other in the hallway after our newborn cried out for another feeding. “I’ll take this one,” my mother would say, “you go back to bed.” She would stay with us again when the next two were born.
4. My mother taught me how to iron a shirt. Back then there wasn’t such a thing as permanent press. Everything wrinkled. There was lots of spritzing and heavy steaming involved. Of course, the skill wasn’t just about properly ironing a shirt. I also learned to walk my little brother around the block in his stroller about 10 times so mom could finish making dinner. Basically, I learned to pull my weight so mom could keep a home with a husband and five children running more efficiently.
5. My mother taught me there is beauty in the smallest things like the white paper snowflakes we folded and snipped with scissors as kids. We hung them all over the front picture window every winter. Or the flowers she grew in her yard each spring and shared with family and friends. Too bad I didn’t get her two green thumbs. Obviously teaching is a lot different than inheriting a gift!

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