by Robin L. Silverman
At this, what is probably the more-than-midpoint of my
life, Iíve realized one thing: my life has always
benefited from some mommying. My mother has either told
or demonstrated to me a dozen things that, upon
reflection, are really good ideas for living a happier,
more fulfilled life. Here they are:
1) Sit up straight. (and wash your hands)
Mom was right: no one looks good when they are
slumping in a chair. Posture is important, not just for
self-esteem and making eye contact, but for better
digestion, less back pain and the breathing that results
in a clearer mind. Now that Iím of an age where I take
calcium and teach personal energy management, I truly
appreciate the value of sitting up straight. Mom was
smart about the soap-and-water thing, too. Both doctors
and hard experience have shown me that if I want to
lessen the amount of germs and viruses I ingest, washing
my hands is a lot cheaper and easier than penicillin.
2) Put your coat on.
This was also very smart thinking on my motherís
part, although I like to think of this advice
metaphorically, rather than literally. Itís easy to
"catch cold" when I go out into the elements
of a stormy situation without any protection. In the
harsh "climate" of some situations and
relationships, Iíve learned that Iím better off with
a warm, soft coat of personal peace to put a buffer
between me and the chill of a cold shoulder, the snap of
a sharp, windy remark, or the blinding blizzard of too
much verbal precipitation.
3) Sit down and eat.
Sit down and eat used to mean dining (not just
eating) at a table with others. Now it means trying not
to let the barbecue sauce from your fast food spill on
your suit as you drive home to work on your computer all
night. Like many Americans, I have become adept at being
a "stuff it-on-the-runner," and it has not
served me. My mother had dinner on the table every
night, and it was a time to rest, restore and renew
contact with my siblings and parents. Although my entire
family is not together often any more, I try to make my
table a daily destination for satisfaction and
appreciation with my husband, friends or a good book.
4) Do your homework.
My father often went back to his office at night, so
when it came to homework, Mom was in charge. It had top
priority, and we got it done, right and on time. Mom
knew that it was not only required by the teacher, but
was important both for the eventual tests we would face
and for our self-esteem in class. I admit that I got
sloppy about doing my homework as I got older, figuring
that hope, optimism and hard work would be enough to
make anything work. But life has thrown me tests for
which I wasnít prepared, and my daily activities often
include questions I canít readily answer. Whenever I
make doing my homework before leaping in to a situation
a top priority now, I think of Mom.
5) Say your prayers.
When I was a little girl, my mother sent me to Sunday
school. I hated it. She sent me anyway. Iím glad she
did. As I grew older, I could see how important a
connection to God really is. In Judaism, we are each
responsible for creating or own personal relationship
with God, and Iím glad I learned a way to do it that
also connects me with people around the world and a
deeper sense of history.
6) Kiss the boo-boos.
When I was a child, my mother knew how to fix what
hurt. I ran to her with every bump, bruise, scrape and
cut. Sheíd patch me up, kiss the sore spot, and send
me off to play again. I donít know when I started to
realize that I was throwing dirt on every little wound,
not taking care of them and allowing them to heal. So Iím
back to Momís way, which worked much better to keep my
7) Never ask "why?"
At age 14, I was my piano teacherís top student. I
was last on the recital program, the one who was
supposed to Wow! the audience with my well-trained
skills. And I practiced my very complicated piece for
months, until I knew it in my sleep. But the day of the
recital, I went blank. I forgot every note, and even
when the teacher sighed and put the music in front of
me, I froze. I ended up leaving the auditorium in tears,
and never played the piano again. Amazingly, my mother
never, ever brought it up. She never asked me why I
couldnít perform, or why I wouldnít. Although we
never talked about it, my guess is that she simply
couldnít see the point in going over something that
had obviously made me feel terrible. She just let it go.
Eventually, so did I. Now, whenever I find myself
obsessing about why I did or didnít do this or that, I
remember Momís way, and simply let things go.
8) Dress for the occasion.
Once upon a time, there were work clothes and play
clothes. Clothes for traveling, and clothes to wear when
you arrived. And the wonderful thing about these clothes
is that they were like putting on a costume. My mother
taught me how to love clothes and the way they could
help prepare you to better enjoy the experience you were
about to have. I donít change my clothes three times a
day any more, which saves time, but little else. So now,
I try to change my mental outfit by intentionally
shifting gears as I go from one part of my day to
another, although thatís easier to do if I change a
piece of clothing or two in the process.
9) Put family first.
My mother (and my father) has always put family
first. Neither my brothers nor our children have any
doubt about her love and support, which is a wonderful
thing in a time when our priorities tend to shift with
the wind. Although I have also done this, I often find
that my career is at odds with my family life. Not so
with Mom: Iíve watched as Momís love for us helped
her create meaningful work. When my brother had trouble
learning, she went back to get a masterís degree so
she could work more confidently with him at home. After
he left for college, she became a teacher of adult
learners. Now, decades later, she still teaches. Many of
her students have found their literary voice through her
classes. In the process of taking care of us, she found
a job that has helped many others.
10) Go to camp.
My mother (and father) sent all three of us to camp,
although it was Mom who took on the heavy task of making
all the arrangements. She sewed name tags in every sock,
t-shirt and piece of underwear; bought, packed and often
transported the endless gear on a three hour drive; and
wrote letters to us every day. I hated my first few
years of camp, but later, learned to love the skills I
learned. I discovered how to make friends with total
strangers and live cooperatively with others. I found
ways to resolve my differences when I couldnít go
running to her for help with every little dispute. And I
found that a few weeks away from home made me appreciate
it all the more. I still believe in getting away for
new, unscripted experiences, breaking the pattern of the
ordinary to see what emerges. (But Iím glad I donít
have to wear the uniforms any more!)
11) Include others.
Mom was, and is, great about including others in her
life. She lets people know sheís thinking about them,
not by saying, "Oh! Iíve been thinking about
you!" but with action. When a friend is sick, sheís
the first to call. When a child is born, her gift
arrives right away. When she says she wants to see
someone, she picks up the phone and makes a date. I
often work alone, and find, when the weekend comes, that
I often havenít made any plans to get together with
friends. When I find myself making excuses about why I
donít have time to include others in my life, I try to
remember Momís example: that people are more important
than constant problem-solving.
12) Keep learning.
Momís not just a teacher; both she and my Dad are
life-long learners. Sheís always willing to try
something new. Their house is filled with books,
magazines and newspapers: the stuff of ideas. By staying
mentally fit, she far outpaces her friends in both
activities and good health. Sheís the reason I try to
learn something new every day.
Now that my children are grown and mostly off on
their own, Iím going to try Mommying my own life a
little more. The nurturing would do me--and, Iím
guessing, a lot of the people around me--a lot of good.
© Copyright 2005 Robin L. Silverman. All Rights Reserved.
Robin L. Silverman teaches
Fullistic Livingô, the art of aligning mind, body and spirit for
more freedom, fun and personal peace. She is the author of six
books, including "Ten Ten Gifts," "Something
Wonderful is About to Happen," "Reaching Your Goals,"
and "Americaís Land of Tranquility." Her "Take a
Load Off!" program is helping men and women lose weight not by
dieting, but by gaining more happiness.
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