7 things I learned from my mother

A photo of my parents, siblings and I on spring break last year (I think). My mom loves having all of her kids together, especially now that my brother and I are in college.

Mother’s Day is over, but the lessons we learn are timeless.
In honor of those lessons and the wonderful lady that raised me, here are just a few of the things my mother taught me (in no particular order).
Thank you, mom! I love you.
1. Your success comes first.
This isn’t meant to be brutal or bulldogish. My mother taught me that love is a great thing, but she also taught me that I need to be able to support myself. She constantly told me that I shouldn’t marry until I had my degree and could bring in my own income, and showed me that a relationship can only really be beautiful when the two partners can rely on each other equally.
Now I have my Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and am on the way to a Master of Arts in Communication. I feel strong, independent, happy and ready to take on the world.
I guess I can get married now!
2. Sacrifices aren’t always what you think.
I used to seriously think my mom hated me when she would deny me certain things. She decided everything for me; my clothes, who I could date, how or what I did in school, when I went to bed, how I used my time. There were times I swore she wanted to make me miserable.
Then, the older I grew, the more I realized it hurt her, too. I realized it wasn’t fun to be the bad guy and say “no” to things. I realized that by deciding the things she did, my mother was making the serious sacrifice of taking on the role as “the bad guy”, when she just wanted my love and happiness.
3. Love is part feeling, part decision.
I won’t go into the glorious details of my mother’s love life, but she’s been through a thing or two, and this is a lesson I visibly see every time I am around her.
She never outright told me this one, but I know from watching. I learned from years of just being around her and my father. They’re not some sappy Hollywood film, they’re real. They’re hard working, middle class people that work hard to pay the bills and raise four children. They’ve been through the real triumphs and traumas of life and are staying strong. They fight and feel the pressure, but they choose to work through it together, and I’ve never, ever felt their marriage was at risk.
And that goes for more than just her marriage. My mom has a naturally big heart but she also has the will to love. If you didn’t know that was a thing, come hang out at the Keans’ some time. It’s definitely a thing.
4. Kindness will go a long, long way.
My mom is nice to everyone. EVERYONE. She’s like the real-life version of Snow White, I swear.
Everyone’s got problems and everyone has a story. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life, so be kind.
(My mom’s like Cinderella’s mom in the new movie. “Have courage and be kind, Kaylee.”)
5. Being nice and being a pushover are two different things.
My mom is nice, but she also isn’t a pushover. She’s strong. She’s fierce when she needs to be. She taught me that while kindness goes further, there are times when you just have to fight back. She taught me to never back down from the things that matter.
She also taught me to never cross a mom. Moms are scary, man.
6. Parents are people too.
When I was little I used to think there was a time when you just suddenly switched from being a kid to being an adult. Easy and simple.
The older I’ve gotten, however, I’ve realized that that will never happen. I’ve slowly realized my parents are people (what a thought!). They make mistakes. They worry about work and money. They have likes and dislikes and hobbies. They worry about doing a good job as parents (ma, if you’re reading this, you did great!). They make weird jokes, have blonde moments and can be kind of really dorky. They’re like me, except older, and I’m only here because of them (deep, I know).
My mom used to be this strong, magical, super serious creature when I was a kid, and now she’s a real person with feelings, goals and passions. She has friends and they are just as dorky as me and my friends are (sorry guys, it’s true).
7. Family is the most important thing you will ever have.
I’m from a very small town where everyone knows everyone and most members of my rather large family live within minutes of each other (half the town is my family, ha).
I used to be so excited to get out of there. All I wanted was to leave and make my own life. And while I’m doing well independently and am glad I’ve gotten out to see the world, I miss my family. They’re the most important things you have. My mom never forgot that and never let me forget it. All she wants is for all of her kids to be together and her family to be whole. A whole family is a strong, beautiful family.
Everything else life has to offer is fun. There are cool things out there. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t have your family.
So thanks mum. Hopefully one day I’ll be as cool as you.