lessons from mom


My mother celebrates her sixtieth birthday today. She has been a wonderful guide and companion and it pains me that I cannot celebrate beside her today.

Mom loves words. Words are precious gifts that cost no money – they cost time and consideration but they are otherwise free. Free is in our budget.

There is a lot I could write about Marilee so I narrowed my scope and chose to focus on sixty lessons I have gleaned from our time together so far. You can enjoy them too if you like.

I predict there will be several additions but for now, here are the things I chose to document.


1. Invest in high quality shoes and take good care of them.

2. Only purchase shoes that you can properly walk in. No woman should clop like a Clydesdale horse, no matter how lovely the heels.

3. One cannot own too many pairs of black shoes if one’s name is Marilee.

4. If the mother-of-the-bride is footing the bill for bridesmaids’ shoes, she can have the final say in which shoe is purchased.


5. Always use butter. Never margarine. Yuck.

6. Bother with tedious Christmas baking. It’s always worth it.


7. Stock your freezer with meals for friends and neighbors in need of comfort food so you always have something to give on short notice.

8. Pay attention to quantities when doubling a pulled pork recipe.

9. Win your son-in-law’s heart through his stomach.


10. Be the friend you seek.

11. Speak highly of people and give others the benefit of the doubt.

12. Learn people’s names and listen to their stories.

13. Be intentional about celebrating little things with people you love.

14. Create traditions with friends. Breakfast at White Spot is a good start.


15. Teach your children the art of napkin origami early. They may eventually enjoy ironing.

16. Wash glasses first, cutlery second, and dishes third. Leave all the messy stuff until the end.


17. Become a wizard at hospital corners. If you’re feeling particularly inspired, iron your pillowcase.

18. Buy as many drawer organizers as you possibly can.


20. Cultivate a beautiful heart.

21. Drink lots of water.

22. Keep a nice haircut but don’t be afraid to take your bed-head with you when necessary.

23. Natural make-up is best but red lipstick is a lot of fun.

24. Don’t allow cosmetics to hold you hostage in your own skin.

25. Ignore numbers and focus on how you feel.


26. Equip your kids to make good choices.

27. Sing nonsense and repeat nursery rhymes often.

28. Communicate your expectations in advance and stick to them.

29. Find your assertive “don’t-mess-with-me” mom voice as soon as possible.

30. Drink good coffee and treat your kids to donuts.


31. Pray often.

32. Journal the mountaintop experiences to remind you of God’s faithfulness in the valleys.

33. Study and memorize scripture.


34. Use your gifts to serve.

35. Be bold and courageous.


36. Pay yourself first and start saving early.

37. Put your money where your mouth is and give generously.

38. Do your taxes on time and don’t think that the CRA will give you any sympathy.

39. Invest in things that matter.

40. Don’t invest in a Valentino dress for your brother’s wedding unless you plan on giving it to your daughter. (I am so disappointed that I do not have a digital photo of said dress.)


41. Read as much as possible.

42. Set goals and place them where you can see them.

43. Don’t be afraid to water-ski even if you cannot swim.

44. Celebrate small victories with big enthusiasm.


45. Always treat family members with kindness and respect.

46. Ask permission to offer advice.

47. Eat green olive pizza together and watch television in your pajamas.


48. Create traditions together.

49. Take family pictures very seriously.


50. Wear comfortable shoes and start with a good cup of coffee.

51. Don’t waste time with things that are not the right colour.

52. Only buy things that can be worn at least four ways.

52.5. Don’t let your eight-year-old daughter spend your money on clothes unless she can tell you – on the spot – specifically how she can wear something four ways.


53. Seize everyday occasions as a good excuse to use your fine china and silverware.

54. Stay organized and do as much in advance as possible.


55. Don’t buy dozens of vases but have enough on hand to whip together a pretty table in a jiffy.

56. Use cloth napkins if at all possible. Get your child to iron them before you store them away. (See Household Maintenance.)


57. Marry your best friend.

58. Do your best to go to bed happy.

59. Always speak well of each other.

60. Kiss in front of your kids.

Much love to you on your sixtieth birthday, Mom! You are a wonderful teacher and friend.


3 thoughts on “lessons from mom

  1. Jeanie Tegelberg says:

    I learned #7 from your mother Elissa. She brought soup and a loaf of good bread when one of my parents died. It was such a help. I have tried to keep homemade soup in the freezer to bless others as she blessed me. She is special.


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