Do you remember some of the words that your mother told you when you were growing up? Every mom gives her children the instructions she believes will carry them through life. With the love of a mother’s heart and the determination of a drill sergeant, she often repeats those words over and over again. Her goal is to make sure the lessons are learned.
Repetition is one of the best ways to teach. Instinctively built into a mother’s heart is this knowledge. (I think it is delivered to her in the labor room.) Tirelessly and throughout a child’s life, a mom repeats her instructions. She teaches her children everything: manners, healthy diet, character, and even some fashion sense. In this way she is molding her child towards maturity.
A mother’s stories are shared and her wisdom is imparted day after day, year after year, and decade after decade. Eventually these words begin to take root in her child’s heart. This is mama’s way of passing a part of herself down to her offspring, and along with it she passes down a part of her heart.
A young child may believe their mom knows best. However somewhere but between learning the “A, B, Cs” and walking down the aisle on their wedding day, they grow their own idea about living life. The individual journey they take into adulthood presents them with a set of “reality” glasses that aids them in seeing life more clearly.
With this 20/20 eyesight they quickly discover that even if Mama said it, it may not be as true at twenty-two as it was at two. Long before they are on their own, they learn that the stork did not bring their baby siblings. They begin to throw away the myths Mama taught and replace them with knowledge they have learned. For instance, joining the “clean the plate club” will never solve the hunger problem in this world; however, it could set their feet on the path toward obesity.
Along with learning how to tie their shoes, grow in character, and learn manners, a whole lot of wisdom is passed down to the children a mother is entrusted with. So, before you mimic what your mom told you, to your child, first discern if these words pass the truth test, then pass them down. If you want your children to listen to your words, you must teach the right stuff.
Motherhood is important work. You are forming the next generation; form them well. Our goal as a parent should be to raise children to be healthy, mature, confident adults who can eventually stand on their own two feet, not to raise a “Mini Me.” Just as we learned by adulthood to discern what advice given by our mom to accept as our own, our children will do the same.
Later on in life, do not be surprised if you have taken on some of your mom’s words, stories, myths, and maybe even mannerisms, and passed them down to your own children. A word or two that your mama always told you may pop out of your mouth when you least expect it. Do not be alarmed if you hear your children proclaim with delight, “You’re just like your mother!”
Your first reaction may be denial, as you think to yourself, “I am not seeing it!” You may find yourself running to the mirror to take a quick glance showing disbelief on your face. While gazing at the mirror, you may begin to question yourself with the words, “What did I say?” It is as those four words pop out of your mouth that you witness with your own two eyes something unbelievable. You may see that you are wearing your mom’s face that was once your own. In fact, to your dismay, when you look at that face in the mirror, that familiar face of your mama is looking back at you.
Shocked that the words from your own child’s mouth might be true, you take another look. Yet you refuse to affirm their hypothesis. “Like mother, like daughter,” will not be your response, at least not now. Denial knocks on the door of your heart as you shout out loud at yourself in the mirror, “I am not my mother!”
You may be tempted at that very moment to do something drastic, something that your mama always told you not to do. Resist the urge if you can; don’t let rebellious pride guide you. Take a pause, decide for yourself what your mama always told you and why. Make a thoughtful choice. If you do not you may discover that, instead of feeling victorious as you thought you would, you feel miserable. At that moment, angrily and without reservation, you may find yourself shouting, “I am just like my mother!”
Instead of responding in anger, why not take a long look down memory lane instead. Think about the years gone by and who your mom was. Take a long look at who she is today. Think about who you have become because of her words and guidance. Then take another look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Do you see your mother’s eyes looking back at you with love? “I am just like my mother,” may be a good thing after all.
Even though actions speak louder than words, it is the words spoken to a child in those formative years by their mama that seem to reside in their memory forever. A mother forms her child’s personality, traditions, character, and viewpoints. Most moms know they were not the perfect mother. However, their mother’s heart gave them the love to raise their children the best they could.
Once grown, an adult child will adapt what they want from what their mama told them and forget the rest. Not to worry, for when they get old they will remember all mama ever told them, every single word. At that time, those words will be remembered with a tear in their eye and pride in who their mama was. They will proclaim boldly and with joy, “I am just like my mother.”
How do I know this? I have a mama who always told me her stories, words and wisdom. Now at almost ninety-two, she still does. Her treasured words I now hold dear. I am just like my mama!
This Mother’s Day, why not reflect upon the words your mama told you? Don’t forget to thank her for who you are because of what she told you. You may be just like her, but you never noticed that before.
As I was sharing with one of my adult children that I was writing this article, I inquisitively asked her, “What did I always tell you?” She paused, looked me right in the eyes and said, with a smirk on her face, “I don’t remember you telling me a thing!” My point exactly.
“What did your mama always tell you?” I would love to hear from you.
Copyright 2018 Ellen Mongan