We all know that moms have eyes in the back of their heads.
But we also should know -- or will ultimately learn -- that moms can see far into the future:
* Sit too close to the TV and you’ll ruin your eyes.
* Cross those eyes and they’ll stay that way.
* Don’t eat that, it will stunt your growth.
* Wear clean underwear, you never know when you’ll be in an accident.
* Money doesn’t grow on trees.
* Life isn’t fair.
* When you grow up, I hope you have 10 kids just like you.
* Just wait until your father gets home ...
Although these bits of wisdom usually were imparted under the threat of calamity, moms never seem to run short on giving advice.
Turns out, it was pretty good advice, according to the nearly three dozen readers who responded to our question: What is the best lesson your mom ever taught you?
On Mother’s Day we share their lessons with you.
And we thank all those moms who always knew the answers and led by loving example.
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I was a junior in college and wanted to become a physical therapist. I struggled in math and science and my adviser told me that I would “never get into physical therapy school.”
I was devastated and went home to see my mom. She listened. Then she said: “Are you going to let some other person decide whether you can or cannot do something? Isn't it up to YOU to decide what you will do with your life?”
It was the best advice, and I've never forgotten it. I've been a successful physical therapist going on 15 years now. Thanks, Mom (Kit Dimon)!
-- Sarah Dimon, Lincoln
Mom spoke words of wisdom for us to live by and then has modeled them to this day:
* People are more important than material things.
* Give unselfishly and unconditionally to others your love, time, encouragement, resources, self, faith and hope.
* Give and receive forgiveness freely.
* Learn and grow from your mistakes, stay positive and persevere even when circumstances are difficult.
* Be thankful and appreciative of others.
-- Thomas M. Wekesser, Lincoln
When I was a senior in high school, I met a boy. We thought we were in love and going to be together forever. After only a few months, he gave me a promise ring. My mom refused to let me wear it. She thought this boy had a little growing up to do before he gave her daughter any sort of ring! That this was too big of a step for a 17- and 18-year-old to make. We were rushing things.
Two-and-a-half years later we broke up; everything my mom had told me would happen did. And it left her daughter with a broken heart. I didn't talk to this boy for over three years. Then we met again as a woman and a man, whose love for each other was still there, deep down in our hearts. Then when this man asked my mom for my hand in marriage, that was a ring my mom was overjoyed to see me accept!
We wouldn't be the happily married couple we are today if we had not ended the path we were on the first time around, taken the time to each grow as individuals apart from each other. There is always a right time for such meaningful events to occur and no need to rush into things. Let life happen and if it was meant to be, it will happen when it was meant to happen.
Thank you, Mom. I love you!
-- Julia L. Hottovy, Omaha. Her mother is Barbara L. Dewey of Lincoln
I learned very young that mothers are priceless and they write words on the hearts of their children that the world can never erase. I found that Proverbs 9:10 “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” was most important. No matter how many degrees or awards you can acquire -- they can never exceed that truth.
My mother’s words were always laced with love and mercy. She said: “Keep your words sweet -- you may have to eat them some day!”
I am blessed to watch my children teach these truths to their children. It allows us to love unconditionally.
-- Bonnie Jacobsen, Hickman (mom to seven, grandma to 25 and great-grandma to 34)
My mother was an early riser, clomping around long before others in the household were up for the day. She would work all day, following a list she had created during her “rest time.” I asked her as a teenager why she did that. She commented: “Why sleep when you have all eternity to rest?”
Then she added, “I would rather burn out than rot out.”
Here I sit, doing what is on my list, an hour ahead of when normal people will be up for the day. Thanks, Mom!
-- Sue Bollwitt, Seward
The best thing my mom tried to teach me was -- to be like her.
My mom lost her mother when she was in the eighth grade, so she had to become mom to a large farm family at an early age. She was a mom to two generations. Although she rarely left the house while I was growing up ... she somehow was always right in sync with the times.
Being a mom in the early 1900’s was not an easy job. But mom always knew the right thing to do, probably having learned from raising two families with all their problems. Her personality traits of compassion, helpfulness and dignity, no doubt carried her into the memories of both families. So, Mom, I’m still trying.
-- Lorine Mares, Wilber
My mom was a terrific cook, and one day we were making oatmeal cookies ... and she had me reading the recipe (which by the way she wouldn’t have needed).
As I was putting in the amounts, I misread one ingredient and put in too much baking soda, which made our cookies bitter.
That's all right, we will do it over, my mom said. By this time I was out of the mood to bake any more cookies. But she made me do it over.
And to this day, 50 years later, when I am making something I read the recipe very carefully and measure out ahead of time. And even reading contracts -- I read very carefully and understand them.
I always think of my mom, if she hadn't made me do it right that time.
-- Judy Basilio, Beatrice
The greatest lesson I have learned from my mom was how to love, and why it’s important to be honest and have respect for people. My mom taught me how to be independent as well as teaching me that it’s OK to ask for help. My mom knew how to show love and affection, and we always knew we were loved unconditionally. She taught us to have good moral standards, good work ethic and to have the insight to recognize the integrity in people as well as recognizing our own. We always knew that mom was there to listen to us and to offer her insight if needed. I feel very blessed to have my mom with me yet, and I thank her for all she has taught me.
-- Kathy Pankoke Peterson, Cortland
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Southern mothers always call out to departing children, ages 6 to 16, girls and boys alike -- “Be sweet”.
Everyone knows exactly what this means -- mind your manners and be nice to everyone. I love returning to the south and hearing a momma say to her child in the Piggly Wiggly “yes -- WHAT?” (the correct answer being, yes Ma’am)
Children in Lincoln do not “yes Ma’am” to me, but are certainly polite and respectful. Unfortunately, whether in the south or Midwest, I witness rude behavior. Hearing my mother’s voice, I have to restrain myself from tapping the offending person on the shoulder and saying, ”Be sweet.”
-- Nancy Ganser, Lincoln
"Pretty is as pretty does" was advice given to me by my mother. I was a shy farm girl heading to the city for business college and work there.
-- Grace White Hoeft, David City
When I was a little girl, about 9 or so, my mom (Donna Meyer Kastens of Syracuse) made an entry in my ‘autograph book’ that has been the motto that I have lived by and have shared now with my girls!!!
These were her words of wisdom:
Once a job is once begun never leave it till it’s done.
Be it great or be it small, do it well or not at all!
-- Lisa Gene Kastens Rickers, Waverly
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My mother worked at the state home in Beatrice with the mentally and physically challenged. Every holiday, my mother would show up from work with a “client” from work. One particular client named Bobby would come over for Christmas for many of our holiday parties.
She was able to instill a level of volunteerism in all three of her children, without ever talking about what volunteering meant. She was able to show us what it meant to be a volunteer, and in the end, I think she was a hero to many of her “clients” from the state home.
-- Matt Wymore, San Angelo, Texas
I was raised during the years of the Depression in the 1930s. Although we were young, we helped our neighbors with the harvest and other chores. My mother told us at least once a week: “Always be on time and do what you promised to do.”
Those words still come back to me today, and it is good advice for anyone.
-- Lillian Coniglio, Lincoln
The best things my mom taught me? Three words: manners, courtesy and empathy. So many people today think these are old-fashioned, but in truth, those three things never go out of style. These three attributes have helped me in every aspect of life, both work and in play. Holding a door for the next person (whether male or female), standing when an older person enters the room, feeling another person’s pain by putting yourself in their position ... all these have their roots from these three ideals.
-- Barb Tyler, Lincoln
My mom was my foster mom before she was my mom, but has since the beginning been my mom. Coming from an abusive home, I was taught that you couldn't love a parent without being hurt by them. With time and lots of patience she taught me that not all parents are created equal. That you could love someone and not be hurt by them. She also taught me that family is very important and that family is not the blood that ties you, but the love and support that brings you close together.
-- Elizabeth Dewey, Omaha
It was the early 1960s, a time of societal change, when my mother gave me great advice. She was a teacher who had given up her career to raise three children, a common practice among young women in the 1940s and 1950s. As I was enrolling in college, mom encouraged me to prepare well for a lifetime career. "You will always work," she said. "It's a changing world." I did just that, enjoying a 35-year teaching career, raising children with my husband, and continuing to work part-time in retirement. Thanks, Mom. You were right!
-- Sue Pocock, Lincoln
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Back in the 1950s, I was helping dry the dishes with my mom. She had handed me a milk bottle and said to me, “Honey, you only need to dry that on the outside ...”
Moments later she looked and I was gone. I had gone outside to dry the bottle.
Moral of story: Always do as mom says.
I am still learning from her to this day, and she will be 93 this summer. Her name is Mabel Mount, and she lives in Hamburg, Iowa.
-- Linda Leyden, Lincoln
My mom (Carol Mikkelsen) grew up poor, one of 12 kids. She was the only one to go to college. She worked her way through junior college and then through nursing school. She knew how it felt to be picked on by others who had more than she did. My mom worked hard as an emergency room nurse and raising six kids. My dad worked for the State of South Dakota and even moonlighted in a dance band on weekends. Their hard work allowed us to live a very nice middle-class lifestyle in the Midwest. This lifestyle always included a summer vacation with all of us loaded in the car. It also including days at the beach and water skiing several times a week.
My mom showed me with hard work and an education you can rise above the lot you were dealt in life, but I knew as a kid not to look down on my classmates who were less fortunate because with hard work they, too, could also succeed.
My mother taught me many other things in life. My mom is an amazing cook and always had the cleanest house in the neighborhood. She always made the little holidays special ... My mom was the neighborhood nurse, barber and water ski instructor. ... Her lessons taught me to be the best mother I could be and my daughter to be the best mother she could be.
-- Laurie Mikkelsen Wick, Lincoln
There is something so sacred in the meaning of “mother” that poets and philosophers never have been able to describe the impact of its utterance.
A gift my mother taught me: To help others. She helped with a home delivery of a baby, a wife beaten by her husband, and a neighbor child falling into a tub of hot water. She gave gifts larger than life; lessons in dignity, grace and courage.
She taught us to always say our prayers when she tucked us into bed at night.
These are precious gifts my mother gave to me.
-- Evelyn Claesson, Lincoln
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I would like to address not a singular individual trait special to motherhood, but one that appears to be the most all-encompassing important one.
It’s the one that offers affection without any limitations put on it. It’s the one that has no boundaries, the one that is unchanging, from our birth to our death. It’s the one that provides our security and openness, a sincerity and a acceptance of any constructive behavior. It consists of complete empathy and approval of a son’s or daughter’s paths of employment, or love of another human being, or mostly how we generally live our lives. It’s never to be confused with blind faith, but rather an altruism of love. It takes all of us a life time to look back and comprehend that the greatest gift we receive from our moms is the understanding and appreciation of a mother’s unconditional love.
-- Kirk Hoelk, Lincoln
Love, belief in God, sharing, compassion, family, friendships, community, teamwork, charity, humor, laughter, acceptance positive outlook -- hard work ties all these words together and makes for a better life.
Mom is a great teacher of much and common sense abounds. If I can be half the person she is, the world will be better.
-- Audrey Keebler, Sterling, wrote of her mom, Marilyn Saathoff
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My mom married a good man. She taught me to obey my parents as a small child. Once when I disobeyed her, I pouted and told my father: "Mama spanked me."
He said," You probably needed it."
I soon learned they were in a partnership to teach me obedience.
So after a few years of Sunday School and church attendance, when mom asked me to give my heart to Jesus, I did. It has not been hard to obey God's rules for these 92 years. All because my mom taught me to obey parents who knew what was best for me.
-- Vesta Linderman, Falls City
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The best thing mom ever taught me really isn't a "thing." It's more of a practical guide to living.
It is common sense. It is the Golden Rule. It is doing what's right even when no one is looking. It is knowing how to run a house, raise children, love unconditionally and a have a strong work ethic. These things were taught to me by example and the expectations were required of me every day. So much so that they were instilled into lifelong habits.
So thanks, Mom, you did a good job. I hope I have done the same for my children, too.
-- Julie Zahn, Syracuse
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My youngest sister has been diagnosed with myeloma cancer.
I am yelling “This isn’t fair. God where are you?”
Then I heard my mother’s voice: “No one said life would be fair, but God said he would never leave or forsake us.”
I had six sisters. My oldest sister ended her life after staying by the side of her cancer-dying husband. The next two sisters lost the cancer battle within the past two years.
My sister five years younger than myself fought melanoma cancer all last year. She is in a wait and pray period.
Now with the baby of the family starting this battle of her life, I can hardly bear the thought, but mother’s voice comes to me: “No one said life would be fair, but God said ... ”
Shirley Yurth, Lincoln
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My mother died when I was 9 years old. During my own motherhood years and being a school teacher for 40 years, I learned how important a mother’s influence is on a child even into adulthood.
Mothers can also teach the three Rs -- respect, responsibility and religion. Respect begins with children respecting their parents, those in authority and rules. Responsibility can be learned by example and the expectation of a job being well-done and right.
Religion and faith give you guidance and a back-up for the other two Rs. I live at the assisted living ... and daily hear about how important these three Rs are and how neglected they are nowadays.
-- Virginia Feurer, Tecumseh
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The best thing my mom ever taught me was about Jesus Christ and the salvation He provided to us. She and my dad both made sure I understood the Bible and how it applies to my life. Even now, we talk on a regular basis and challenge each other to grow in our personal relationship with our Lord. Now that I'm raising my own daughters, this knowledge is invaluable and is being passed on daily.
-- Denise Hartford, Lincoln
A mom is someone who loves you even on your worst days. In the 1960s, I was raped and kidnapped. When I was allowed to come back … I went to a friend’s mom. “Mom” understood without words how I was. “Mom” let me know I was safe and could confide in her when I was ready.
My emotions were all over the place. I’d cry when we ate, and laugh at serious times. “Mom” never judged or criticized me. “Mom” and her family were my support.
--Lina Driscoll, Lincoln