25 Lessons from My Mom--A True Eshet Chayil

IMG_9786 Today is my mom's birthday, and I have been part of her life for exactly half of it. My mom and I have always been close even during the times when I was rude and moody and difficult. She's been a constant presence in my life even into adulthood and has made motherhood a lovely, empowering transition for me. I learn so much from her every day about what it means to be a woman and a mom. She's taught me more than I could possibly know (or share here!). But I have twenty-five key lessons I'll share.

  1. Don't be easily offended. This is one of the most life-changing lessons I've learned from my mom. My mom doesn't look for offense in situations and is thus spared a lot of drama. She's one of the few people I know who consistently encourages me not to read into things and to let little things go. When I'm tempted to read into a situation, she's often saying, "Just don't go down that road."
  1. You can make or learn almost anything. From involved sewing projects to homemade bread to tractor repairs, my mom is not afraid to learn a new skill.
  1. Parties are about people. Our gatherings--from bridal showers to graduation parties--have always been about people and food and celebration rather than decorations or perfection. I love this about my mom.
  1. Family is important. I've learned a lot from seeing my mom maintain close relationships with her own family.
  1. Don't be overly sentimental. I tend to be feelings-oriented. My mom is more practical, and this side of her has helped round out my personality.
  1. Healthy eating trumps doctor's visits.
  1. Don't let your blood sugar get low. My mom is good at taking care of herself so she can take care of others (like really, really good at it!). Even when I was in labor, she was running to the car for snacks so she had plenty of energy (it wasn't really funny at the time when they weren't letting me eat!). I also love how she models taking care of herself and getting enough rest yet she still does more for others than anyone else I know. I've never seen her reach burnout.
  1. Evaluate and reevaluate. My mom doesn't get caught up in one way of thinking or living. She's constantly looking at how she's living when it comes to food or faith or emotions.
  1. Love and respect children. My mom loves little children and they love her. It's her energy, warmth, and ability to treat them like adults. Most of what I've learned about relating well to children I learned from my mom. Perhaps the most important lesson about relating to children is realizing that they understand more and are far more capable than we often assume.
  1. Distance yourself from children's tantrums. There were times when I was a very difficult person to live with. My mom rarely got caught up in the emotions because she didn't let my feelings dictate hers. This has already been an invaluable lesson for me as a mother. I try to let Liam have his bad days without letting them affect my mood.
  1. Get help when you need it. During a rough time in my life, my mom took me to Al-Anon to help me work through some issues. She went with me to the first meeting because I lacked the courage to go. This changed my outlook and my life.
  1. Find loyal friends and nurture these relationships. My mom is a good friend, and she chooses good friends.
  1. Be present for others. I've seen my mom care for both of my grandmothers during especially hard times. She's good at being present when she needs to be. Most of what I know about caretaking I've learned from her.
  1. Waffles cement friendship.
  1. Befriend strangers. My mom is polite and kind to everyone she meets and always willing to talk and listen.
  1. Trends come and go. From the time I was a little girl, my mom modeled that appearance doesn't matter too much but you should take care of yourself. When she does dress up, it's the classic, timeless look.
  1. Keep the secrets of others.
  1. Age gracefully and enthusiastically (maybe it helps that every year she gets more beautiful and youthful looking!).
  1. You don't have to believe everything. I can read a book and feel like I have to adopt everything I read. My mom teaches me common sense. A lot of stuff you read or hear is ridiculous, and you don't have to like or do something just because someone else does.
  1. Life is not about rules. This ties into #19. I used to try to govern everything in my life with rules. After I got married, I remember my mom mailed me a letter reminding me that it is no way to live. She encouraged me to loosen up and have fun.
  1. Find beauty even in hard seasons.
  1. Be strong in the Lord.
  1. Hospitality doesn't have to be fancy or perfect (although clean is good!).
  1. Don't stress out (or gripe!) about something longer than it takes you to do it. I've come a long way in this area thanks to Mom. I used to spend hours fretting and crying about what I had to do. Her patience with me in this area (especially during our homeschooling years) was instrumental in teaching me not to complain and instead just to jump right in.
  1. Spend lots and lots of time outdoors.

Rachel Held Evens writes about the true meaning behind the Proverbs 31 woman. She talks about how the poem is praising a woman of valor, though the specifics will look different from woman to woman. Jewish women use the Hebrew phrase for "woman of valor"--Eshet Chayil--as a cheer when a woman does something praiseworthy. It's a fitting praise for my own mom, as she is perhaps the most valorous woman I know, facing every difficulty with courage. Many women have done excellently but you excel them all!