Lessons from Our Mothers | The BridgeMaker

Lessons from Our Mothers

By on May 06, 2010

No influence is so powerful as that of the mother. – Sarah Josepha Hale

Mother’s Day will be here soon. It’s a day to celebrate, pamper and remember our mothers. Between the brunches and backyard barbeques, Mother’s Day honors the person who sustained us before we knew the world.

Mothers connect us to life. Our first ounce of nourishment passed from them and into us. As a result, feelings of being safe, warm and secure are rooted somewhere deep in our consciousness and are forever associated with our mothers. This is nature’s way of establishing the mother-child bond, no matter what happens next.

And it’s because of this bond we often feel closer to our mothers than we do our fathers. As children, we are more aware of their presence; their approval is more important; we are more desperate for their love; and when they let us down, we are more willing to forgive.

The lessons our mothers teach shape who we are and how we see the world. The lessons from our mothers stay with us for a lifetime. Because of the lessons I have learned, as well as the ones I’m still learning, Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me now.


During a recent errand to the grocery story, Mary Beth asked me to pick up cards for her mother and stepmother. The card selection was impressive. Colorful designs and sentimental verses filled the Hallmark racks. I scanned through the cards projecting my wife into the search. I wanted to bring home the good cards; the ones she would select.

In the middle of my search, it occurred to me I wasn’t looking for a third card. Not sadness; not regret, but sympathy for how she chose to live her life came to mind. The Mother’s Day cards I sent prior to my mother’s death did not come from the heart – they came from a sense of obligation. Browsing through the cards, I felt relief. I no longer have to sign my name to a verse I don’t mean.

But to be fair, I have learned some valuable lessons from my mother. Although these lessons were not intentionally taught, they are ones I will remember for the rest of my life.

I have learned a parent should not find relief from their own imperfection by expecting perfection from their child. I have learned children are not meant to be peacekeepers or caregivers.

I have learned when innocence is lost, shame will take its place. I have learned the best way to heal my shame is to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t my fault.

I have learned love cannot be negotiated, stolen or conditional. And in her death, my mother taught me when we keep our souls in a dark place our hearts will eventually die there.


Monday was a spectacular spring day in Kansas City. I walked to the drug store during lunch to enjoy the fresh air and brilliant sky. I wanted to buy my wife a Mother’s Day card before the good ones were gone. The card, and the meaning behind it, would be from the heart.

Mary Beth is an amazing mother. She is teaching our children wonderful lessons. My wife is teaching them to stand on their beliefs and to know they can do anything they choose because they have the power to do so.

She is teaching them how mothers are not only capable of bringing children into the world, but passing along needed nourishment after they arrive, too.

Both our sons and daughters will benefit from her lessons because they provide our children with a solid foundation on which to build their lives; a foundation built from the strongest material possible – a mother’s unconditional love.

My wife is one of the good ones and the bond with her children will last forever. It is this gift we will celebrate on Sunday. And when Nature sees to it that the bond continues from at least one mother to her child then redemption is provided for all.

Over brunch or perhaps during the evening barbeque I will feel the nudge. I will recognize it and honor it. I will whisper a silent prayer of forgiveness and express thankfulness for the life she gave me. Then like a balloon losing its air, it will be time to let the feeling go and watch it fly out of sight until next year.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • @ Ken: They would be more nurturing, for sure.

    @ Mike: Thanks for stopping by – I’m glad you found us.

  • That’s deep brother. Loved it. Just discovered your site today. Will be checking out some more.

  • Motherhood is such an enormous and challenging job; and yet all the while they can carry on with so much determination and love. I can’t help thinking Alex; wouldn’t this be a kinder and happier world if the head of corporations or governments had the qualities required of a mom?

  • @ Becky: Let’s celebrate what’s ahead of us and find strength in the lessons we have learned!

    @ Albert: Thank you Albert. And its good to know that over time our healing will take the place of shame.