My Mother's Words of Wisdom
My mother always said, "Never marry a man who can't dance. When everything else is gone, at least you'll be able to go out and have some fun." I remember rolling my eyes at this statement as a teenager. But the older I got, the more I realized that she wanted me to look for someone I could have a good time with. After two failed marriages, I finally admitted she had a point. Then I met Dan, who took me out dancing on our first date. We got married in 2005, and my mom, who's 90 years old now, even did a swing dance at our wedding.
- Reader Elisse Goldstein-Clark, Landgraff, West Virginia
When I was 22 I had my first important work meeting and I confessed to my mother how nervous I was. She told me the story of her reentry into the workforce in the 1980s. She'd been a stay-at-home mom for years, so she was anxious when she had a big job interview. On the morning of the meeting she put on her sexiest black lace bra and panties, which made her feel powerful. During the interview she thought of the black underwear and told herself that even though she might be scared on the outside, she felt totally confident underneath. She got that job and now, whenever I have something important to do, she calls and asks, "Are you wearing your black underwear?" I always am.
- Reader Suzanne Casamento, Los Angeles
My mom died of breast cancer when I was 12 and I'll never forget one of our last conversations. She told me how she was going to miss being there for my senior prom and my wedding day, and how she was going to miss meeting my future husband and her future grandchildren. But most of all, she said, she was really going to miss those little life moments, the unexpected ones when I would need a hug or someone to celebrate with. That conversation has stayed with me every day of my adult life. Sure enough, it's those smaller life moments when I miss my mother the most. She knew that the big moments would mold me but that the little ones would ultimately define who I became.
- Reader Kate Atwood, Atlanta
I grew up in a house where education was important: My mother had overcome a lot of barriers to become the first and only black female principal in then-segregated Quitman, Georgia. Since I had skipped a grade, I went to college when I was 16; at the same time, some of my former classmates were having babies. My mom was adamant that teen pregnancy wouldn't be my fate too, so one day she told me, "Don't be easily led. Think for yourself, Anita. Get an education and become someone of distinction." I was somewhat hardheaded, but that was the day I started appreciating what my mom had endured so gracefully and began thinking seriously about my future. I graduated from college at 19 and earned a master's degree by 22. Today my mom's words still compel me to achieve.
- Reader Anita Jefferson, Tucker, Georgia
When my husband and I got married we moved to Utah so he could work for his family business. I soon learned that his family ate out nearly every night, which was a strange adjustment for me. My Southern mom had taught me how to cook and I'd always thought of her hearty, delicious meals as an extension of her love. So I called my mom, worried because I wasn't sure how to fit into this new family's lifestyle. Mom suggested that I accept my in-laws' traditions, but that I also offer to cook for them, because that was part of who I was and how I showed my love, too. To this day I'm the one who hosts family meals -- from casual barbecues to holiday dinners -- bakes cakes for birthdays and gets everyone involved in cooking. And although I'm still homesick sometimes, I know my mom's right there with me in spirit every time I cook.
- Reader Wendy Toliver, Eden, Utah