This I Believe

Shelly - Webster, New York
Entered on May 11, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I believe….My mother was my first and most influential teacher.

Sure, my Mom was probably the one who taught me to tie my shoes and definitely the one who taught me how to bake cookies…but this life lesson is not about the things I would’ve learned anyway. It’s about the other things my Mom taught me.

“Don’t start something you’re not going to finish,” she’d say. That’s a hard lesson. I wanted to try everything – volleyball, tennis, flute, saxophone, dancing, skiing, but that didn’t mean I wanted to stick with everything I started.

“Give a book at least 50 pages before deciding you don’t like it.” But thanks to rule number 1, I have to finish even the books I don’t like.

“Always put on lipstick before you leave the house.”

“Take care of your feet and your teeth – you want them to last forever.”

“When you disagree with someone, say it with a smile, your words will be better received.”

“Never beat a man in sports…especially if it’s your first date.”

“Never lie – no matter what the consequences.”

“Never ask a question if you aren’t truly prepared to hear the answer.” Course this one, my Mom forgot on occasion. When I was 18, we were riding in the car and she asked me about the night before when had gone out with some friends. Did I have fun? What did I have to drink …fully expecting me to say “soda.” But remember, she taught me never to lie. When I told her I had a Tom Collins, she nearly drove off the road. Maybe in this one instance, I taught her to remember her own lessons.

She also taught me success is defined by the life you lead, how you treat others and how well you do at trying you’re very best…not by job title or paycheck.

Speaking of paycheck – when I landed my first job and could barely make ends meet – she told me no matter how tight money is – spend a little on something fun each week. “If you can only afford an ice cream cone – do it,” she said, “otherwise you’ll feel like you’re doing nothing but working to pay the rent.”

She taught me about unconditional love. She and my father never argued. No really, I didn’t believe it either – figured they must’ve argued in private. But they didn’t. I asked her if she ever got mad at my Dad. “Sure,” she said. “But then I stop and think about how much I love your father. And when I’m done thinking about that, I can’t even remember what I was mad about.”

She’s taught me how to laugh – even when I’m angry.

And, I believe, her teaching continues, now that I am a mother. I hear her voice in the words I share with my daughters… …hoping that someday, my girls will believe that I have provided them with lessons that will help them along the way.