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10 Things My Mom Taught Me About Motherhood

10 Things My Mother Taught Me About Motherhood

By Amalah

Okay. Moms can drive us crazy sometimes. Right? Even those of us who are fortunate enough to describe our relationship with our mothers as “good” are still probably well-versed in the eye-roll and OH MO-O-OM exclamations. I’m the same way, really. But there’s no doubt that my mom immediately became my biggest cheerleader once I had my own children, and absolutely shaped me into the mother I am now. So today I’d like to thank her for a bunch of stuff that I’ve probably left unsaid for way, way too long…

1: She taught me to be kind to myself, to let go of my perfectionist nature when it came doing things the “right” way, according to “plan.” She taught me to finally find enough confidence in simply doing the best I can.

2: She taught me to always be open-minded about new or different ways of doing things, rather than clinging to whatever parenting approach I’d idealized before reality set in, by never once scoffing or arguing with me about the way “we used to do things.” Things always change, she said. You do your best to keep up.

3: And when things DID change, even in my early motherhood lifetime (BPA! DHA in prenatals! toy recalls! drop-side cribs!), or when I realized I’d made honest-to-God mistakes, she reminded me of thing number one, over and over.

4: She taught me that we all deserve to be judged on more than just our lowest moments. That a moment of lost temper or a regrettable word or action doesn’t negate everything else.

5: She taught me the importance of family dinners and holiday traditions.

6: She taught me to wrap an ice cube in a baby washcloth to sooth teething gums.

7: She taught me how to open the top little flaps on a juice box to create handles and prevent crazy squeezing-related disasters.

8: She taught me how to make cookies from scratch, and that they are always, always worth it.

9: She taught me that even though I remember her as a do-it-all-herself-style supermom when I was little, she asked for and received help when she needed it, and it’s okay for me to do that too.

10: She taught me that you are never, ever too old to hug your mom.

What did you learn from your mother? How has your relationship with her affected your parenting of your own children? How did it change once you had your children?


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Carmen

    October 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    OMG! #7 – the handles on juice boxes? INGENIOUS. I will begin using this tip the next time I hand a juice box to my youngest kid. This will cut down on the number of times I have to clean my carpet. THANK YOU, AMY’S MOM!

    My mom taught me the importance of having fun with family: playing board games & card games & telling jokes so that we laughed until we cried. 

  • linsey

    October 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I second Carmen’s comment – I was just here to say HANDLES ON JUICE BOXES? I am totally glad to finally have a solution better than drinking the top third myself! Thanks!

  • kristin @ going country

    October 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    To sing. All the time, everywhere. I hope my son’s memories of his childhood are as tied to music as mine are.

  • Anonymous

    October 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I am a regular commenter, but I need to go Anonymous for this one.

    My mom taught me a lot of things. Mainly, how NOT to be a mom. So, I cannot in good conscience enter that contest.

    However. I had a grandmother who taught me how to be a good mother and I am so very grateful for her. One of the most important things she ever taught me was that yes, you can love someone unconditionally, but that you can still expect 100% from that person. It took me years to learn that – I was in my late 20s before I accepted the fact that I would do things in which she would disapprove or even be disappointed about, but regardless, she still LOVED me.

    I hope that makes sense. In short, my grandma taught me to love my kids to their very core, but to still expect certain things from them. My husband thinks I am too hard on them sometimes, but I know that if I don’t expect 100%, I will have let them down. I don’t want to my kids’ friend, I want to be their parent.

  • JB

    October 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    That juice box idea is GENIUS….that’s all I have to add also.

    (@Anonymous just FYI your picture still shows). :-X.

  • andrea

    October 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    My mom is a leader and though I am definitely not I learned an awful lot about how to be one in spite of myself. She also taught me the importance of being both educated and open minded. She taught me how to cook and the wonderfulness in spices. My grandmother taught me how to love with all your heart and to appreciate all the wonderful simple things in life. She taught me that its okay to be yourself.. to be the clown and how important it is to be the first to go up to someone and make them feel included. I have always felt very special to have such great ladies in my life.

  • annemarie

    October 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    My mom taught me to make it work (like Tim Gunn!). She was far from her family, my dad worked a lot, and her daughters were weeds (we’re both over 6 feet tall). She taught herself to cook, to sew, and to live in the northern Canadian winter after growing up in California.

  • Kerry

    October 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    My mom taught me to keep my composure and stay calm even in life’s most difficult situations. She has always been so mellow and easy-going. If I get really mad and feel like screaming and ranting and whining, I just think about how I would feel if my mom behaved that way.

  • JCF

    October 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    The juice box tip is amazing! I’ll definitely try that next time!

    My mom has taught me to sew, cook, and keep my house clean (or at least in some semblance of order). She’s witnessed me make parenting mistakes and not made me feel worthless. She’s currently helping me potty train my second–something I’d avoid if I didn’t have to do it, so I’m so grateful that she’s willing after doing it with her own four kids!

  • ras

    October 27, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I am fortunate to have a mother-in-law who has taught me a lot about being a mom (and, for that matter, about being an adult):

    1. In 20 years, probably nobody’s going to remember that there were dust rhinos on the floor or that our house was cluttered. Housekeeping time should come after snuggling, reading, goofing off, playing outside and just generally having a good time with the kids.

    2. Putting a decent, nutritious meal on the table need not be an elaborate or expensive proposition. I often watch her in the kitchen, thinking “there’s no way that will work!,” only to be proven wrong at the dinner table.

    3. It is possible to be supportive of your kids without necessarily loving everything they do.

    4. Stop worrying so much. Everything is a phase. (Almost) everything will pass.

    I am so grateful for my MIL’s loving and supportive presence in my life (especially as I have absolutely nothing nice to say about my own mom).

  • Rebecca

    October 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    My mom taught me the importance of saying “yes” to my kids, even when saying “no” would make my life easier. She also taught me to turn the things that still have to be a “no” into at least something of a “yes”.

  • Erin

    October 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    My mom taught me that I learned a lot from her and have a knack for being a mom when she said last week that I handle my 2.5 year-old’s temper-tantrums much better than she ever would have. That one statement will go with me my whole life.

  • Dana

    October 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I like Amalah’s #4 and my Mom helped me learn to apply that to my kids too. One bad day shouldn’t define them either. My Mom is probably the only other person who has seen my kids at their absolute worst and she loves them like those days never even happened. She’s my inspiration when I’m having a hard time not dwelling on the bad.

  • Inski

    October 29, 2010 at 8:17 am

    My mom taught me that sometimes you just have to laugh, if not, you’d drive your self crazy.

  • Liz Baker

    October 29, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I totally posted a top 10 Things I’ve Learned from My Mother on my blog for Mother’s Day. Check it out.

  • Kirsty

    November 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    *sniff* *sniff* *sniff*
    My mother died nearly 7 and a half years ago, of early-onset dementia, so although my elder daughter was already with us (she was 19 months old but had only seen my mother twice), by then my mother was so far gone that she didn’t know who anyone was. So, as far as mothering tips go, she didn’t give me any. I know she loved me, in her own way, but I don’t think she ever really understood me. We were never close, she was never my confidante, but we weren’t enemies either. I often wonder what kind of grandmother she would have been, what it must be like to have your own mother to turn to when the going gets tough… It’s crazy, I have tears streaming down my face as I type, but it’s for the mother-I-might-have-had, rather than for the real one that I don’t. As for my MIL, well, less said about her the better (and anyway, she’s my ex-MIL now, the one good thing about separating from my partner this spring). This type of topic still gets to me – even more so now that I feel so utterly alone…

  • Tami

    November 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    My mother taught me to always trust my instinct. If something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. It took me some time to learn this on my own but it is one thing I always do now. She also taught me that if it is meant to be then it will happen.