Mothers are one of the universe’s best inventions and deserve to be appreciated every day. If we’re lucky to have them in our lives, they’re present from the moment we take our first breaths and go on to become our personal cheerleaders, nurses, teachers, and more, preparing us to leave the nest at some point and experience the world on our own. They’re always there for us whenever we need them, only one call away no matter whether the situation is as simple as a recipe recommendation or a personal crisis that seems world-ending.
I’ve learned so much from my mother about how to be a good, responsible, and thoughtful person, and I know she has much more to teach me. As we hold our mothers in our hearts today and reflect on the gift of their presence in our lives, I’d like to share a few lessons I learned from my mother.
Gender Roles Are a Social Construct
As an architect, she was one of the few women in her male-dominated field. She oversaw numerous projects, not only designing buildings but also working with engineers and quantity surveyors on job sites.
She’s an artist at heart, and I like to think that some of that appreciation for aesthetics has rubbed off on me. She certainly always encouraged my artistic inclinations, buying me as many art supplies as I needed and teaching me different techniques. My mum was raised by a feminist father who believed that all his children deserved the same opportunities. He gave all 10 children access to the same level of education, never prizing his sons above his daughters like many of his peers did. From the two of them, I learned that I can do anything, even if the world tries to teach me differently.
Not to toot the “cool mom” horn, but amongst her siblings, my mum is considered one of the coolest. One of my favorite stories to tell about her is about how she brought home a pair of short shorts for me when I was about 13. It was the last thing I expected since most of my classmates’ parents refused to let them wear anything shorter than a knee-length skirt. She also suggested that I get a tattoo to cover my appendectomy scar, which was shocking, to say the least, because most Nigerian parents are anti-tattoo. My mum has never tried to dictate how I dress or what I do to my body. Her advice has always been, “think about it, and make sure it’s what you really want.” She always wanted me to be my own person, making fully-informed decisions instead of being swayed by peer pressure.
Being Nice Is Great, But Don’t Let People Take Advantage of You
Growing up, I was the kind of kid who got along with everyone. I was always ready to lend my possessions to friends and could strike up a conversation really quickly with pretty much anyone I met. My mum taught me that it was okay to be friendly and kind, but not to trust everyone 100 percent or take things at face value. As much as we’d all like it to be, the world isn’t always such a great place and not everyone is kind. It’s best to exercise caution not only with strangers but sometimes even with our friends and family. We may be too caught up in our altruism to see that some people view goodness as something to be exploited for their own gain. Be kind, but protect yourself.
Everyone Has Their Own Timeline; Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
This is one lesson from my mother that I hold onto the hardest, and I think it’s something we all need to remember whenever things get tough. Measuring ourselves with another person’s yardstick will seldom have the results we desire. We might be connected to certain groups of people due to similarities in age, education, career, etc., but those similarities end there. Our self-worth should never hinge on how much we think we should have accomplished in comparison to others. Just because our peers are married, own property, have great careers, travel a lot, or do any other things that are considered markers of success doesn’t mean that we are less than because our experiences have not been the same.
Our self-worth should never hinge on how much we think we should have accomplished in comparison to others. This is one lesson from my mother that I hold onto the hardest.
Every day I am so thankful and feel incredibly lucky to have a mother like her who sacrificed so much to provide me with every opportunity. Whenever I’m not feeling so great, I know that talking to her will give me a better outlook—sharing her perspective of the person I am and what I’m capable of is one of the many gifts she’s constantly giving. My biggest goal is to one day soon be in a position to take care of her with as much love and care as she raised me. Happy Mother’s Day Mma!