The older I get, the more I reflect on my relationship with my mom and all I have learned from her. I think as women, one of the biggest things mothers teach us is self-care. From bath time to reproductive health to your first heartbreak, most of these conversations happen with your mom. As a single parent, my mom had her hands full trying to juggle work, graduate school, three girls, a dog, and all the extracurricular activities we were involved in. In a childhood that seemed so busy, I can look back and see “one liner’s” I learned from my mom that helped shaped my perception of self-care and how my internal health affects others.
1. “ Appearance is important”
Anytime my sisters and I would try to leave the house without our clothes ironed, hair combed, or teeth brushed our mom would yell “appearance is important!” As the effects of middle school rolled around, I remember struggling with my mom’s saying. My struggles stemmed from a place of low self-esteem most pre-teens face. My mom finally took the time to explain what she had meant all those years: When I looked in the mirror, what ‘appeared’ to me was important. The confidence I had in the girl staring back at me meant something. On days when I was frustrated about being a chubby, tomboyish pre-teen, being able to look at myself in the mirror and still love who I saw meant I was on the right track. My mom explained to me that life comes with its’ sets of challenges no matter the age. The key to success was loving myself through it all. From acne in middle school to dormant dreams in adulthood, it’s important to be able to look at yourself and still love who you see. Learning to take pride in my appearance during those dreadful days helped me to develop a confidence that has carried me throughout my adult life. Even on days when I show up to work after little to no sleep, I’m able to look at myself in the mirror and think, “You look a mess, but I still think you’re pretty cool.” How do you appear to yourself? Do you like the person looking back at you?
2. “ I trained your butt, you train your mouth”
In a house full of women, you can only imagine what disagreements looked like. My sisters and I grew up constantly arguing about something. My mom implemented family meetings as a place for us to hash out our disagreements and restore order to our hectic house. Headstrong as we were, and still are, these meeting typically climaxed with insults being thrown and my mother having to step in. “I trained your butt, you train your mouth” was my mom’s way of telling us we were responsible for the words we spoke, not her. She couldn’t fix the damaging, hurtful words caused so we should use precaution when using them. Even in fierce arguments, we were still going to be held accountable for not speaking words that edified or lifted the other up. My mother taught us that our words had power and if we didn’t have anything nice to say, it was our job to not say anything at all. The older I get, I’ve realized that learning to bridle my tongue in moments of frustration keeps my conscience clear. I take pride in the fact that no matter how angry I get, there are some lines I will not cross with my words. Even in speaking things over ourselves, my mom always empowered us to speak words of life and promise, not negativity. If you’re struggling with speaking positively over yourself or even saying things you don’t mean, remember that you are responsible for the words you speak and how they affect you and others. In anger and disappointment, speak positivity or stay silent.
3. “ Give little boxes with silver bows”
Every parent has that one-liner that is completely made up but becomes their claim to fame. “Giving little boxes with silver bows” is my mom’s. In a house full of girls we quickly learned the silent treatment was harsher than hateful words. One day my mom stopped me and my sister in the hallway and implored us to give one another a little box with a silver bow. She explained to us that acts of kindness, no matter how small, are what this world needs. Giving kindness to others shows them they are valued beyond what they can do for or give to you. My sisters and I learned to become each other’s cheerleaders, constantly giving out little dumb boxes with imaginary bows of kindness. Our words turned to gifts, which eventually developed into a lifestyle of generosity. All this stemmed from the idea that we had the ability to lift others up by giving them something only we could give away. In my adult life, I see myself moved to giving and can attribute it to my mother teaching me the importance of sharing kindness, no matter how small, with others. When’s the last time you gave someone a kind word? When’s the last time you bought your co-worker coffee? Try giving out kindness and see how it impacts you.
Motherhood is a job fit for those committed to growing little minds into strong adults. I was blessed to have a mom who filled my childhood with countless teachable moments. Who was that person for you? Maybe it was your mom, but maybe your dad stepped up to the plate instead. We all have those people in our lives who took everyday moments of childhood and shared a one-liner that shaped our perception on something. I’d love to hear your one-liners that have carried over into adulthood.