Everything I Know about Motherhood, I Learned from My Mother.

My Mom and Me, 1981

My Mom and Me, 1981.


 My mother plays ping-pong in high heels.           

But keep your guard up, unsuspecting reader:  she’ll kick your butt in those heels.           

 (I’m speaking figuratively, of course.  My mom probably won’t literally kick you in the bum, although, should she decide to do so, the heels would be a functional accessory.)          

After my Mom lays the smack down on the ping-pong table, she puts the backs of her wrists on her hips and does a dainty “Superiority Dance,” very much reminiscent of a chicken strut.             

Now, here’s the kicker:  the Superiority Dance is not obnoxious.   It is endearing, mostly because, on the rare occasion that Mom is a ping-pong-loser, she thinks her losses are just as hilarious as her wins.            


It’s Thursday night.  I am laying on my living room floor with my hands on my head.             

My hands are on my head because my brain is spinning.  My brain is spinning because I want to honor my mother on my blog for Mother’s Day, but the idea of capturing her essence in such a length-restricting medium is insane.             

Where do I begin?  I revere her, and yet the only way I can think to start this post is to discuss her chosen foot dress for ping-pong.             

Quick–here are the facts:  Some people are “talkie, talkie.”  Others are “walkie, walkie.”  My mom; a walker, a do-er, a mover and a shaker, is a savvy business woman and one half of my parents’ powerful team.  Her ability to separate logic from emotion is uncanny.  

She makes her own strawberry jam.  She rarely forgoes her “lip colah,” but frequently covers herself head to toe in dirt or grout or paint or flour or other project materials du jour.  She gives you the advice you need to hear, not the advice you want to hear.  Last summer, she handmade a tuxedo for Punga to wear in my sister’s wedding.  The 200-person wedding was in my parents’ backyard.  

She has a habit of appearing at our doorstep with exquisite homemade meals, and then disappearing again into the night.   She is self-taught and well-versed in business law, tax law, medicine and financial planning.  She is frugal but generous.  Her people know she will be there when they need her.              

She is my idol.  She is my Momma.            


But enough about how great my Mom is.  MommaGooseNotes is supposed to provide take-away points.  Want to know the three best pieces of advice I’ve received in my son’s first year?  All are from my Mom.      

“Trust your instincts.  Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right, even if someone you respect is advising you otherwise.”              

Now, as I parent, I listen to my (and my husband’s) gut first, to my mother second, and to my pediatrician third.  Ironically, I would probably be inclined to listen to my mother first, had she not instructed me to trust myself.             

“Never put the desire to be your child’s friend above the need to be your child’s parent.  There are millions of people in the world who can be Punga’s friend.  But he only has one mother.”             

This helped me when I brought Punga to get his first vaccinations.  And it helps me when I tell him “no.”             

“When you say ‘no,’ mean it.”             

Let me just say this in regards to my own upbringing:  I still do not know what would have happened if my mother had gotten to “three” when she counted to three.  All I know is that I hope I never find out.           


Flashback to Mother’s Day, 1988.  I bought my Mom a tape measure to hang on her key chain.  It sparkled with the words, “World’s Best Mom.”        

Superlatives are a dime a dozen in elementary school.  At that time, the only thing giving me the authority to designate my Mother the “World’s Best” was that I had four quarters in my shoe.  Four quarters which were, coincidentally, borrowed from my Mom’s purse, which smelled perpetually like Big Red chewing gum.          

But now I have almost thirty years of observations under my belt.  In the last year alone, I have read a stack of parenting books as tall as my mother (who is not quite as tall as she says she is.)            

While I would never consider myself an authority on parenting, I do now, at least, consider myself more qualified to assign the “World’s Best Mom” title.         

Dear Momma:  the crown is yours.  Please commence superiority dance.        



Dear Readers:         

I am infinitely grateful for the many inspiring and loving mother figures in my life.  My Momma Sharon reminds me that I am beautiful, even when I think I am not.  My Gramma P taught me to respect Mother Earth, well before that was in vogue.  My Memere B, mother of 7, reminds me to smile through life’s insanities.  My and my husband’s 18 aunts have taught me many lessons about love and about life.      

But I only have one Momma.  And she is pretty special.     

I sympathetically recognize that, for many people, Mother’s Day brings heavy hearts.  In consideration of those whose parents are no longer with us, and of those whose parents have fallen short of expectations, I considered keeping this Mom-worshipping post private.         

I later decided to shout my message from the rooftops–out of respect for those very same people, who I am sure would implore me to appreciate my Mom for all that she is.         

With love for you and yours on Mother’s Day,        

 Momma Goose       

PS:  Tell me about your Mom!  I would love to hear about her!   



54 responses to “Everything I Know about Motherhood, I Learned from My Mother.

  1. I love this post and I am glad you shared it. Your readers will have a wide variety of feelings towards his or her own mother but this is how you feel about yours and I am glad you posted this. Your mom sounds like a strong yet gentle supporter in your life. I can feel the love you have for her and that she has for you when you tell your memories and feelings. It seems like she loved you and was there for you in a very close way and she wanted to prepare you to be a grown woman instead of pacifying you and keeping you out of her hair so to speak until you were out on your own. I hope to be like your mom to my daughter. Much love to you and your family. 🙂

  2. Katie (Johnson) Flanagan

    [Momma Goose] – This is great! Congrats on the blog – I’ve read through several of your posts now, and it’s fab!!!

  3. Loved your post… Made me think and be grateful for my own momma. The good things I’ve been learning from her since before I can remember… She is very critical of herself, and tends to feel guilty whenever my sisters and I are sad or frustrated about something. I think she overthinks… and, particularly, I believe she’s donne a pretty good job!!!!
    It’s funny how sometimes you forget to appreciate… Thanks for reminding me.

  4. “her ability to separate logic from emotion is uncanny”

    -WARNING: your Mother is not human. She may be a droid. Be careful next time she visits.

    I’ve never known a woman with this ability, so she can’t be a real one.
    🙂 🙂

    (I promise this wasn’t a slam on women, i’m just being silly. I’m happily married with four kids, two beautiful daughters)

  5. What a really great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. excellent post! I love the fact that my mother always gives it to me straight-no chaser while remaining my number one fan. She sees things for me that I only imagine in my head. I love her!

  7. wow you look so much like your mum!

  8. You look exactly like your mother! You are definitely your Mother’s Daughter. Even as a man I still feel a deep closeness with my mother. I always seek her advice on everything, because to me, well, mom is always right. Mother’s are special and as they will often say, “Nobody, and I mean nobody will ever love you like your mother.”


  9. What a wonderful post! Great advice too. That is the type of mom I want to be.

  10. Thank you for the upbeat, open post! I too have adored my parents growing up (and still do, by all means), but since becoming a Mama myself, I have gained new insight into how much my mother has done for us kids – so many sacrifices, unrecognized for so many years. I come to her for all of my parenting advice…but the question most often asked is simply “How did you do it?”

    Mama loves people. She is friends with the grocery store clerks (all twenty of them), she knows the names of the neighbor’s kids and pets, she’s learning how to tango and how to paint in oils, and she remembers the birthdate of EVERY SINGLE PERSON she has ever met. And calls them to wish them a happy one.

    It being Mother’s Day soon, I feel I should exclaim something bold and triumphant..

    Long live the Mommas!!!

  11. What a sweet post! I’m so glad you decided to share it 🙂

  12. I am sure your mom is as proud of you as you are of her. Great post.

  13. beautiful!

  14. This is a very beautiful post about your mom. Thanks for sharing! I can honestly say that I am very lucky to have such an incredible mom! Her strength, never ending support and love inspires me to do great things in this life.
    ~ Lila Frazier

  15. How lucky you are to have such a wonderful mother!
    I love my mother, but am not inspired by her, or very close with her. I have always found ‘other mothers’ in the course of my life to fill that role.
    As I am parenting my own (now 4.75 year old) child, I think about what my parents would have done, and go in the opposite direction. I hope one day my kiddo will feel about me the way you do about your amazing mama!

  16. Pingback: OffTopic – Toothbrushes, stress, blackberries, moms and mass media « AlleyJack Creative

  17. Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. You write beautifully.

  18. You look so much like your mom!! It’s cool.

  19. i have read your writing and i love it. every mom is special..no matter they have inspired you or not, but i am sure she loves us more than anything in this world. she would do everything for you, even she has to sacrifice her life…
    being a mother is blessing,they can do what man can’t do. they love us unconditionally. tribute to all moms in this world. We love you mom

  20. Ping pong in high heels–who wouldn’t want a mom like that! I am one of those people you were thinking about when you were considering keeping this a private piece. And I am happy you posted it. I lost my mom when I was 17 and she was one of those amazing women, too. The kind you want to be one day. Mother’s Day is a day for celebrating the good in our moms whether they are with us or not. Thanks for your post.

  21. This is really lovely! I’m glad you got featured on Freshly Pressed so I could find you. Just really nice stuff… Punga is blessed– and so is your mama. No matter what our faults, as mothers, it’s always good to have at least one child who can verbalize their appreciation in a sincere and concrete way. Nicely done. Thanks for letting us “listen in.”

  22. At 30, I finally found the mother I never had in my mother-in-law. She is awesome, and I feel so grateful for having her in my life.

  23. What a beautiful post, and a special gift to your momma! Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

    My mother is getting older, and it’s hard to see that happening. It catches me off guard every time I see her in person and notice that her flaming orange hair has faded, her smile lines are deeper than I imagined, and her formerly bright blue eyes are slightly watery blue at the edges. Mother is the most powerful person I know. Like the lighthouse on a stormy rock. Firm. Sure. Like your momma, she has taught me everything I know about how to be a mother. And now that my children are teens, my mother gets a little guilty pleasure hearing my old taunts coming back to haunt me through the mouths of my own babes! 🙂 “Mother’s Revenge” she’ll say with a twinkle in her eye…but in the very next moment there will be a tear there, too, and an arm wrapping quickly around me whispering, “don’t worry, sweetheart, this too shall pass”. I nod, but I know that if these girls are anything like I was, it will take at least another 10 years.

    Mom was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer two years ago. It was bad. I didn’t know how to deal with the thought of not having her with me. But Mom’s a fighter, and she has perservered. Tomorrow morning I am getting up at 6 am and running the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” in honor of Mother’s Survival. She told me it was the nicest gift I could give her, and said she wished she “could give something half as nice”. I reminded her that she not only gave me MY LIFE, she’s given me HER LIFE – and there’s nothing “half-sies” about that kind of gift! I know there will come a day when I’ll only be able to hold Mom in my heart. That thought breaks my heart in pieces. So, for now, I hug her every chance I get. I try to cal more often. I send emails, and always leave a voice message when no one answers. Because there is no such thing as saying “I love you” one too many times! I love you, Mother!

    I thank your Momma, too, for raising such a wonderful daughter and rejuvenating our world. – MoSop

  24. What a lovely post. Mothers are very special. It is the most difficult job in the world and the one in which we receive the least amount of training.
    I’ll tell you something about my mother:-
    In the days before welfare, my mum was the spunkiest baker alive – she would turn up at your door wearing an imitation leather bib-and-brace outfit that she made herself, worn with little white socks, a huge basket of warm, cripsy bread and a smile as wide as the ocean. She could do that, despite probably 4 hours sleep, and a mountain of worry, because she had 5 children at home that she had to set an example for and provide for.
    When almost the whole state was swathed in smoke and lives were lost and homes destroyed, my mother walked around 15 miles through the haze and the fierce heat and then sat at her doorstep ready to die because she couldn’t find her children (luckily, we’d all been spirited away to safety by our uncle).
    Mum is alive and in reasonable health for a seventy-something woman and she is my greatest inspiration.

  25. Loved this.
    My mum died when i was five. I wish i knew her like you know your mum. I was blessed to be raised by my aunt and uncle, so i wasn’t completely without one. She became like a mother to me. I call her mum, but deep down I know it’s not quite the same. I’m now a mother myself to one girl and three boys. I consider myself incredibly blessed. I hope I can be a great mum. I’m so glad I’m here for my kids. Mother’s day is always fraught with emotion for me.

  26. Happy Mother’s Day 🙂 I love this note and already subscribe with Mommagoosenotes! You and your mom look so much alike! Absolutely imprint beauties!
    Cheers 😛

  27. Wonderful, warm Mother’s Day thoughts!

  28. awww happy mother day to all mothers

  29. Oh what a beautiful read! And you look EXACTLY like your mother!

  30. beautiful post. thanks for sharing.

  31. WOnderful and heartfelt post. I know how you feel about your mother. I feel the same way.

    And your advice is right on!

    keep Blogging

  32. this post exuded such genuine love and adoration it brought me to tears – clearly your mom has done an amazing job in her role! thank you for sharing 🙂

  33. My Friend.



  34. Pingback: Mom, You’re the Best! | Life and Stuff Like it

  35. You are so sweet! Your mother sounds awesome. Her number 1 ‘rule’ about being a mum is the only thing I ever share with others about being a parent. I agree, 100%

  36. Great post. I am on the other end of the spectrum but not much else changes. The year you gave your mom the tape measure was my first as a mom – my home time flies.

  37. Pingback: Mantra « CrazyHeaven

  38. Great post! Mothers are special. I’m reminded of that every day I speak with my mom. Thanks for sharing a piece of knowledge from yours.

  39. Good post!Mothers are great.Happy Mother’s Day!

  40. This is a great Mother’s Day post (I’ve been browsing)! Your mom sounds epic. Ping pong in high heels?

    It really makes me think about how are mother’s are so well-rounded, well versed in life as well as domestic life. Cooking, working, living, loving… our society expects so much more from women now and I truly believe we do live up to such standards!

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the supermoms out there! ❤

  41. A pretty good post. I guess all mothers are special. My best wishes for you and your mother. 🙂

  42. Great Blogging! Mothers are real colors of life. That’s it.

  43. they are great and great…thanks for the post

  44. That sounds like one special mother!!!

  45. Great post! Great appreciation for celebrating mother’s day.
    Mom is always an inspiration for her children.
    I …ups…we… hope one day my children would say the same thing about me…

  46. My mother went to a wedding on Mother’s Day lol, talk about letting someone steal your thunder! There were probably 300 mothers there who didn’t get to celebrate…which is why I’m going to surprise my mom with a late Mother’s Day this weekend!

  47. Love it! What a great post!

  48. What a great post, and you do look just like your mom!!
    I also learned everything I know about motherhood from my mother, only for me it’s a case of what not to do. I’m glad to see that there are many out there who were inspired by and cherish their moms. If any one of my three kids writes such awesome things about me when they are grown, I’ll know I did it right.

  49. Thank you all for your wonderful comments and for sharing your stories of your mothers with me. You warmed my heart! xoxo

  50. You did a great job on your Mother’s Day tribute post. Thanks for sharing.

    I learned everything from my mom too…

    I remember when I first had my son she told me about times that I may get frustrated in the middle of the night because he may cry non-stop without consolation. She told me if that were to ever happen no matter what time of day to call and she would come over to help out.

    I’m sure we don’t do enough for our moms….

  51. This blog is very good. Thanks for this. I will bookmark this page..

  52. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  53. You know what,,, your mom IS the best! And so is your Dad. Ill never forget the surprise birthday you all held for me on my 30th birthday! It meant the world. Please tell them hello and know that I think you have a serious talent with this blog! I always knew you were funny, but this, is spectacular! All my love!

  54. Lee Ann Caldwell

    I agree. Your mom is top-notch in SO many ways & that was a lovely tribute to her! You are a very lucky kid, my cuz, and so is that little man in your life. I can’t wait to meet him next month!

    One thing we’ve done is take a picture of our babies (who are now almost 16, 13, & 10) every month in the same chair for the first 2 years. I also take a video every 6 months in that same chair with a little dialogue about what has been going on in their lives. I keep it on one tape, so you can scroll through their whole lives in a short time.

    Keep up with this. It’ll help keep your humor in tact. You’re going to need it!
    Love you!
    Lee Ann

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