1) Be generous. When I think of my mom’s best qualities, undoubtedly one of them is her extreme generosity. At Christmastime as a kid, it seemed like she bought presents for every single person she ever came into contact with. One year her gift of choice was this little log cabin shaped incense holder. She bought a slew of them, then returned several times as she thought of more people to give one to until she bought the store clear out of them.
2) There’s power in positive thinking. Yes, Leo Buscaglia penned a whole book on this topic. I know because my mom references it all the time. She’s a big fan. Both of the book and of the mindset. Yay for the example of optimism she provided me throughout my whole life!
3) Have faith. I am eternally grateful to have grown up with a woman who knows and loves Jesus with all her heart. This, I know, has made all the difference in my life.
4) Practice makes perfect. A drummer since she was a little girl (Yeah, how cool is that?!), my mom understands that tremendous progress is made from practicing. I had the honor of getting to hear weekly practices when she performed regularly with a band. I loved those nights when I could play outside and hear music jamming from my house. Such a fun way to grow up!
5) Show kindness toward others. Sadly, kindness isn’t always easy to come by. But my mom works to spread it wherever she goes. And I long to be more like her.
6) See the gold in people. My mom tends to see the good in people and to overlook people’s faults. She stays focused on the gold and tries to ignore the rust.
7) Have a playful spirit. Whether it’s with my kids, other people’s kids, or the elderly that she cares for, she’s always willing to be silly.
8) Be kind to animals. She’s madly in love with all kinds of animals. Eh, save possums. But who likes them anyway? Her heart overflows with adoration for all most things furry.
9) Laugh often. Along with her playful spirit comes a laugh that’s always close to the surface. She’s always up for a hearty laugh with anyone.
10) Forgive and forget. This life lesson tops the charts for me in regards to things I’ve learned from my mom. Forgiveness is a tough lesson. I’m grateful I got to witness it in full action my entire life. Time and time again my mom displayed this Godly act of whole-heartedly forgiving. It has made a tremendous difference in how I’ve responded to people and to God.
11) Remember birthdays and anniversaries. A calendar always hung in our kitchen that was chockful of loved one’s special days. And seemingly without fail she’d remember to call them on their day and/or send a card to arrive on time. Though my reminders are a little more relevant to the times (i.e. an email reminder or Facebook notification) I also do my best to make people feel loved on their big days!
12) Call people just to hear their voice. The art of phoning someone has been lost. I grew up watching my mom connect with people this way. It’s a purposeful act of picking up a phone and dialing simply to let them know you were thinking of them. While texting may be the preferred method of communication these days, the old-school form of communicating via voice shouldn’t be fully retired just yet.
13) Brownies are to be eaten directly from the pan. Also it’s perfectly acceptable to devour them in the middle of the night.
14) Be a gracious host. Growing up, friends stopped by for a visit all the time. In my memory, every single Sunday afternoon was spent with whatever random people happened to show up at our house. My mom would welcome them in and demand that they stay and enjoy the roast she had in the oven. The hours passed with the adults vegging in front of the TV while us kids played to our heart’s content. My mom’s openness to guests helped to create some of my favorite childhood memories and instilled in me a passion for entertaining and allowing family, friends, and neighbors into my home at any given moment.
15) Pop in to visit your friends often. By the same token, unplanned visits to friends’ homes happened often. My favorite house to visit was my friend Stacey’s upstairs duplex in Elkhorn, WI. Her mom (Suzanne) and her long-term boyfriend (Glenn) were close friends of my mom’s. I was giddy with excitement anytime we headed to their home. Just like my mom, the friends we visited graciously opened their doors to us and made us feel right at home. May this new age of planning things months in advance never fully overtake the spontaneity of the phrase “I was in the neighborhood.”
16) Relish a clean house. 1 full-time job + playing in a band on weekends left little time for intense housecleaning. So on those days when we managed to get the place sparkling, my mom truly savored the order. To this day, I also radiate joy in those rare moments where everything seems to be in its place. Ah, bliss!
17) Never use the word “promise” with your kids. Just trust me on this one. If your kid is anything like me, they’ll hold you to the vow that you committed to and whinily demand that you uphold it. As a parent myself now, I’ve learned from the hellish experiences I put my mom through.
18) Imperfect teeth are perfect. She dished out money for my headgear in 3rd grade. My w-wire in 5th grade. And when Dr. Hollybush (No joke, that was my orthodontist’s name. And years later I learned my future husband was a patient there, too.) told her I needed braces she said “Go screw yourself.” Just kidding. Sort of. While she didn’t use crude language in Hollybush’s office (Seriously that’s a hysterical name, no?!) she did laugh in his face and tell him I had beautiful teeth and she wasn’t about to pay $1k+ for braces for me.
19) Laughter is the best medicine. Diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, my mom endured her treatments with positivity. She even showed up to a radiation appointment with a sticker on the, uh, location where they were to be treating. Her care providers cracked up at this playful gesture. She was brightening others’ days in the face of her own hardship, proving that that battle with cancer really can be fought with optimism!
20) You can never have too many friends. She makes friends everywhere she goes. One of her best friends who I grew up with and who truly impacted my life was a friendship that developed in a laundromat. Mitzi was working there when we were washing our clothes one time and her baby daughter Heather accompanied her. With complete confidence, my mom struck up a conversation and we spent hours and hours of our lives with them from that day forward.
21) Encouragement is priceless. I witnessed my mom pour encouragement onto my cousin Christy throughout her lifetime. She had zero doubt that the keyboardist/singer would make it big someday. Her dreams for her niece certainly came true. Christy has had a career working with and singing back-up for John Tesh, touring with a famous Mexican band, and currently working with and traveling worldwide alongside astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I believe that Christy’s aunt’s belief in her abilities went a long way in assisting in her star-studded life! I love the role my mom played in her niece’s life and pray that I can be as big of an inspiration to my own!
22) Sisters make the best friends. We shared a hometown with my aunt. What a joy it was to watch the two sisters as their relationship developed while they were raising daughters together (just 4 months apart). They were always there for each other – babysitting each other’s kids, going on fun adventures together (Like that overnight to a Waukesha hotel with a pool!), and dog-sitting when necessary (RIP Molly the Maltese and Spook the black lab). They were a living example to me of how nobody loves you quite like a sister.
23) Provide a better life for your kids. In the Rasch family (my grandpa, grandma, Uncle Mike, Aunt Karlene, and mom), the adults ate butter while the kids had oleo. Not gonna lie, I still don’t know what oleo is. Why? Because my mom provided a better experience for me. One in which she shared all the pleasures of life that she enjoyed and she didn’t withhold from me. She remembered how it felt to be on the bottom of the food chain totem pole. She didn’t want to do that to me. In turn, I also want to provide my kids with more than I had. Not in a spoiled brat way. But in a way where they will feel respect, love, and care without reservation.
24) The sound of a sitcom brings comfort. Anytime we arrived home to our 3-bedroom ranch the first thing we’d do is turn on the TV. Yep, even if we were heading to another room to work. The sound of a TV comedy was a constant for me. To this day, that canned laugh track sound overwhelms me with nostalgia and peace.
25) Driving stick is a necessary skill. When many of my friends were handicapped in the way of driving a manual car, I could proudly shift gears to get myself around town. Thank you, Mom, for not allowing me to be a damsel in distress in regards to transportation.
26) Kiss my babies’ heads often. If we were in a grocery store and a baby rolled by in a cart, my mom went out of her mind nuts over some stranger’s offspring and absolutely insisted on sniffing their little one’s head. Utterly embarrassed as a kid (and horrified as a mom at the idea of a stranger putting their nose/lips on my babe) I endured this odd behavior. Now with babies of my own, I can understand her obsession with the smell and feel of a baby’s head. Well, that is to say that I can’t refrain from smothering only my own littles with kisses. 😉
27) Funk is one of the best genres of music. My musically-talented momma was a connoisseur of all types of music. But one of her faves was funk. She’d drum along on the steering wheel or snap her fingers to the beat. I agree. I simply can’t hear a funky jam and sit still. You really do gotta funk it up!
28) Car maintenance is of utmost importance. Just like my mom, I don’t play around when it comes to taking care of my vehicle. Get regular oil changes. Wash the salt off to keep it from rusting. Have it checked when you suspect a problem.
29) Never underestimate a good mattress. It wasn’t until I was 34 that I really learned this important lesson. But for reals, a good mattress can change your life.
30) Don’t tolerate people, truly love them. I’m forever grateful for a mom who showed me that every single person no matter their race, gender, sexual preference, size, shape, religion, etc. is fiercely loved by our creator. May I always make people feel loved and never simply tolerated.
31) The sun dries clothes better than a dryer. I feel like a country girl for saying this, but a clothesline hung in my backyard as a kid. Though I was terribly embarrassed by my underwear hanging publicly for the neighbors to see, as for the other items I love the simplicity of hanging clothes out to dry naturally.
32) Leftovers make great lunches. My factory-workin’ mom knew too well how great it was to have leftovers to take to work the next day for lunch. For me, I’m heating the remains of our dinner up at home, but still I appreciate the lesson of always making more so you get a few meals out of one dish.
33) Nap often. Naps are amazing. And they are even better if enjoyed on a fluffy couch.
34) It’s liberating to drink straight from the jug. As an adult it’s totally necessary to drink milk, juice, what have you, directly from the container sometimes. So glad my mom wasn’t too classy for such behavior.
35) Be an awesome aunt. My mom was a rockin’ aunt for all of her nieces and nephews. She regularly wrote the older ones letters to stay in touch. The forgotten younger ones (Did I mention my uncle had 10 kids?) were gently placed under my mom’s wing and treated extra special when they stayed at her house. And with all of them, she had a reputation of being the best malt-maker. With the bar set high, I’ve attempted to be an equally amazing aunt. Though not as cool due to my lack of percussion skills, I’ve still pushed forward to treat my 17 nieces and nephews just as royally as my mom treated hers. And maybe someday I’ll have a treat that I’m famous for.
36) Love your friends’ kids like your own. As a kid, my spoiled only child behavior shined through when my mom showered attention onto the kids of her friends. Heck, or even some stranger’s kid. I was jealous. And everyone knew it. As an adult, my spoiled tendencies aren’t quite as strong. In fact, I love how much she dotes on others’ kiddos and I aspire to be just as caring to all the littles in my life too.
37) No use crying over spilled milk. Or spilled pop. One time a kid spilled their cup of Pepsi (since we always had 2-liters of the inferior cola) all over our living room carpet. My mom reacted calmly to the mess and wasn’t mad in the slightest. My response? I cried. I was hurt by her calm reaction as I assumed that she would’ve been mad if it was me and felt it wasn’t fair that the clumsy kid didn’t get in trouble like I was guessing I would’ve been. She reminded me that people make mistakes, messes happen, and she wouldn’t have been mad if I’d done the same thing.
38) Clap on the 2/4 beats. Seriously. Do not clap on the 1/3. Just don’t do it. Drummers all over the world will be pointing and laughing at you. Also, drummers’ kids.
39) Women can do the same things as men. Gratefully, I grew up with a strong woman – both emotionally and physically. She worked in the shipping and receiving department of a company and had a pretty physically demanding job. I always felt like my mom could do anything. I was impressed with her strength in lifting, her ability to make a box in 5 seconds flat, and her position in a male-dominated career. Girls, we really can do it!
40) Life requires comedy. From an early age I was introduced to classic comedy. From Laurel and Hardy to The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals to Leave it to Beaver, my mom’s love for comic relief was passed on to me. I relished those nights when I was allowed to stay up late enough to watch Saturday Night Live. (The best was when the Coneheads were on!) And I loved seeing Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins on Carol Burnett. My mom even introduced me to Ellen back in the day when the now famous talk-show host was making phone calls to God during her stand-up comedy acts. I’m thankful for growing up in a house where laughter was important. And my adoration for great comedy still remains today!
41) Scavenger hunts are amazing. One Easter Sunday my grandparents dropped me off at home after a sleepover at their house. The dining room table held my Easter basket and a note for me that was the start of a very memorable scavenger hunt that took me all over the house to find new clues and their accompanying Easter surprises. A super memorable holiday that I’ll never forget. Thanks for your effort, Mom, when you likely wanted to just crash after arriving home in the wee hours of the morning after working all night. Your time and energy was not lost on me!
42) There’s always room for dessert. No matter how stuffed you are. A post-meal treat just makes life sweeter.
43) Respect your elders. Her heart’s always been tender towards the older generation, but since becoming a CNA she has really fallen in love with the more advanced in age. I love the example my mom has set for me in listening to and learning from those who’re farther along on this life journey than me. I pray that in our infrequent visits to nursing homes or retirement homes that I’m setting the same respectful example for my own kids.
44) Be a good neighbor. From shoveling more than just her own sidewalk and mowing more than her own yard, to helping care for the animals next door, to simply having a watchful eye over the street to make sure everyone is safe, I learned several ways to be a good neighbor.
45) Have a grateful heart. My mom’s one of the people who grasps the incredible gift Jesus gave when He sacrificed His life for hers. It’s because of this understanding, I believe, that she is a grateful person.
46) Surprise people. People get gifts from my mom all the time. Donuts for her cancer doctors when she was undergoing treatment. Pies for her insurance agent. Gift cards for her chiropractor. She’s always coming up with ways to surprise people who are deserving, yet unexpecting.
47) Milanos rule. My love for my favorite packaged cookies (apart from Oreos, naturally) was inherited from my mom. Pepperidge Farm Milanos are simply delicious. Mint, Orange, Original, etc. – all the flavors are equally awesome. My mom and I agree on the correct way to enjoy them as well. You dunk them in milk until the cookie is good and soft and the chocolate stays perfectly crisp. So fantastic!
48) Be polite. For real, my mom says “pardon.” I do not. Just doesn’t feel natural to me. But I do say “I’m sorry” rather than “excuse me” out of fear that the latter will sound too valley girl.
49) Life gets messy. (Literally.) And that’s ok. As a mom I know how frustrating it can be to have your entertaining space transformed into a fort, excuse me, house. Nevertheless, I allow for the mess to be made as often as I’m willing to tolerate it. And I’m grateful that my mom allowed for the same pretend play to happen right smack dab in the middle of her house as well.
50) A new toy can buy yourself hours. I have a vivid memory of a trip to a store prior to a band practice. The purpose was to find something to keep me occupied. Thus teaching me the meaning of occupied (It actually has nothing to do with pie.) and also training me how to play independently.
51) Don’t put your finger inside hamsters’ cages. She warned me. She told me over and over and over not to put my finger inside Hammy’s cage. Did I listen? ‘Course not. Sure enough, she found me screaming and my finger bleeding due to that tiny furball’s razor sharp chompers. Lesson learned.
52) Keep the volume down. Come on, people. And by “people” I mean “Keira and Caden.” You are young. There is no possible way you need the TV up so loud that I have to yell to have my voice heard. On my childhood TV, the rule was that the volume couldn’t go above the number 20. In my home, it’s 10. I’m more of a hard-ass than my mom.
53) Play hooky at least once in your life. On a wintery 1980-something afternoon, I hopped into my mom’s car after school. She said “You wanna play hooky tomorrow?” To which I questioned “What’s hooky?” She explained that I could skip school and go Christmas shopping with her if I wanted to. Not even kidding, my goody-two-shoes self didn’t jump on this immediately. After all, that would break my perfect attendance record. [Gasp.] In the end, I caved and to Southridge Mall we went! And a hooky-playin’ girl was born.
54) Send real mail. My heart skips a beat when I find something in my mailbox that isn’t a bill. I want to provide this blessed feeling for others, too! My mom was (and still is) fantastic about sending cards, letters, and presents to her loved ones. I try my hardest to follow in her footsteps.
55) Rejoice with others. Regardless of where she is in her life, my mom always celebrates alongside her friends and family when they have something good going on in their lives. Never does she display jealousy or any ill feelings toward them. Rather, she rejoices in their blessings.
56) Encourage musicality. Though she would’ve loved for me to learn the skill of percussion, my mom never forced it. But I am grateful that she did encourage me to play something. Yes, even if I don’t play the clarinet anymore.
57) Share your reviews. Product reviews make a regular appearance on my blog. Why? Because I want my friends to find joy in the small things just like I do. Seriously, get yourself a dark chocolate and sea salt bar already! My mom shared Fudge Jumbles with everyone she knew. They were a box mix of something like a brownie mixed with a cookie and they were delicious. There was practically an unending pan of them on our stove. Until they were pulled from production. It was a sad day for my mom. But I certainly loved her passion for them and I still search for my own products to share with my world!
58) Cousins are practically siblings. To this day, my 60-year-old mom is still super close with her cousins. When they are together, it’s like no time has passed. She absolutely adores ’em all. Her closeness with them fostered deep relationships between me and them as well. Therefore her cousins are more like my aunts and uncles and my second cousins are like my siblings. I love her for the intimacy she created for me!
59) Don’t sweat the small stuff. When she wrote “Happy Birtday” on my cake one year, she didn’t curse herself and stress about it. She had a sense of humor and continued hosting the guests at the party and serving the birtday girl. She led by example to not sweat the small stuff.
60) Embrace your age. When other moms began lying about their age, my mom proudly shared hers. As a youngster, I watched her exclaim how she was excited to turn 30. Her example has carried over to me. Never will I feel shame, embarrassment, or dread about the increase in my years. Only grateful for another year on this beautiful Earth!
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and to all of you! May you lose yourself in reflection today as you remember all the women in your life who mothered you (both literally and figuratively). Find some time to thank them for all that they taught you. PS My mom also taught me that tea trumps coffee. This could not be truer!