This Mother’s Day, I wanted to share some life lessons from my mum: things that she’s taught me as I’ve grown up, explicitly or otherwise. The things that I remember at my low points and the ideas I value. Maybe they’ll be valuable lessons for you too.
So here we are. 10 life lessons from my Mum:
1. Be creative. Let yourself be bad.
My creativity comes from Mum. She likes to have a go. Embroidery, painting, crochet, knitting, drawing… Mum does several workshops, follows tutorials and has a go. She often thinks what she produces is rubbish, but I disagree! With this attitude, she taught me to give things a try. If you’re not very good, it doesn’t matter – you might enjoy the experience anyway. And you might be better than you expect!
2. Find something you love and do what you can to make that your job.
Mum spent a while working in a role she didn’t exactly love… When she could, she made moves and took steps to prioritise what would make her happier, and kept striving to make that her job! She now runs her own business which specialises in vintage fabrics and other treasures. Check Ticking Stripes out here!
3. Find your people, and it’s good to have more than one best friend
As a child, I struggled with the idea that I didn’t have a ‘best friend’. Mum would constantly remind me that I had several close friends and that was even better! It took me a long time to realise that, but I now realise (from her and my experiences) that friendships are formed in different ways and based on different things. We need to find our people – those who’ll bring out our best qualities and those who we can rely on. We’ll probably end up with friends in different places with whom we do different things, and that’s great!
4. A love of words.
Mum is a logophile. I had to look that up. It means she loves words. She loves finding out new words and was a long time subscriber to ‘Word of the Day’ emails which she would often attempt to pass down to me, often to little avail. I love words too. I love to write. Mum loves vocabulary. She has such a wide range of words to use that I often have to ask her to explain something she’s messaged. Maybe I’ll have a vocabulary as wide as hers by the time I’m her grand old age (!) but for now… I’ll just ask for explanations every few whatsapps.
5. It’s okay to be a little bit weird.
Mum – if you’re reading – which I hope you are – I hope this isn’t offensive! Mum’s always taught me that we don’t have to strive to be ‘normal’. What does that really mean, anyway?! What I mean is that it’s okay to be yourself. Mum taught me that by wearing a (ridiculous) pom pom cardigan throughout most of my childhood, and through many other ways. What I now realise is why the hell not?! It wasn’t offending anyone, was comfy and was one of her favourite items of clothing! I’m learning slowly to ignore what others think. I imagine most people we saw on the Sainsburys shop probably didn’t care what cardigan Mum was wearing, anyway.
6. If you’re feeling flat and don’t know why, get hydrated.
Whenever I’d get home from school in a foul mood, Mum told me to have a drink. 9 times out of 10, that fixed me. Still does. Now, I constantly have a bottle with me.
7. If that doesn’t work, a good cry will.
When a drink didn’t help, it turned out letting all the stress, anxiety or frustration out with a big cry would. Sometimes, all we need is a good cry. It removes toxins, releases oxytocin and can generally perk us up. I’m an emotionally sensitive person, but a cry will usually fix the problem, or at least let out some of the stress.
8. Look up.
I’ve no idea where we were, but one wander round a city, Mum told me to ‘look up’. She loves architecture – both my parents do – and they taught me to recognise the beauty of buildings. Instead of looking down at a phone, or even facing forward, try to look up and see what’s above. What do you notice? In Hanoi, my love of architecture has really grown and I post lots of photos of buildings on my Instagram that I perhaps wouldn’t notice if it wasn’t for this life lesson from my Mum and Dad.
(Just make sure you don’t walk into anyone!)
9. Let yourself be moved.
I remember as a teen, I went to Dublin with Mum. We visited the Long Room in the library at Trinity College, a room full of 200,000 books, built in the 1700s. Mum cried. As a *cool* teen, I didn’t understand, and most likely rolled my eyes at such a ridiculous reaction to what was just a room of books. Sorry, Mum.
Looking back, that taught me something. That we can be moved by things that wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. When I went to NZ in 2019, I picked up our campervan from Christchurch and headed west. As the city scenes diminished and gave way to sprawling fields, a mountain range came into view, standing proud and tall. That made me cry.
It’s okay to be moved by things other people don’t understand. It’s one thing that makes us unique.
10. Embrace the simple joys.
I suppose that leads nicely to this final point, which is one of the most valuable life lessons from Mum. Simple pleasures. Simple joys. Finding the happiness in the little things, like birds on your feeder, like singing along to your favourite song with a loved one, like a cosy night on the sofa with Maltesers, wearing your favourite cardi or jumper. Fresh air on your face. Norfolk’s big skies. It helps boost our wellbeing and mental health. Find joy in the little things. They’re the most important.
Thank you, Mum. You’ve inspired me more than you know!
What are some key ideas your parents have passed down to you? Let me know in the comments!