The 20 Wisest Things Our Mothers Taught Us

by Nancy Evans

Our mothers are our earliest teachers. And often -- at least regarding some things -- they are our best teachers. Here, the women of iVillage share the words of wisdom their mothers handed down to them. And not surprisingly, a good number of them report that they're passing the same lessons down to their own children.

Thank you mother for the wise words!

About Life

1. "You aren't getting anything done just sitting there. This is what I am now telling my teens! It applies to everything. You want something? You've got to get up and go get it -- a job, success, a glass of soda, whatever -- take charge and just do it!"

2. "Appreciate all the blessings that you receive in life, and don't bemoan the things you can't have. Focus instead on things you have influence in. Despite all the challenges and sorrows that have come my way I don't despair. I celebrate all that life has to offer and continue to grow and learn."

3. "My mother always told me that the one thing I should do was get an education. She said: Almost anyone can take just about everything away from you -- but your education, once you have it, no one can take it away from you.'"

About Men

4. "If a guy really wants to talk to you, he'll call. This advice stopped me from spending a lifetime waiting for the guy to call back."

5. "You can't change someone who doesn't want to change. When I started dating, I kept that in mind with every new boyfriend. If he wasn't the guy I wanted, I got out of the relationship instead of trying to change him. Because of this, my husband is all the things I wanted in a man. My mom's advice helped me find the man of my dreams!"

6. "Never count on a man being around forever. This is kind of one-sided, but I learned from my mom that I should always be able to take care of myself. Although I love having a man, I can do just fine without him. I am my own person and independent."

7. "If you settle for less that's all you're going to get. I will always remember my mother's words, and will not settle for a man who does not deserve my love."

8. "Don't marry the man you can live with - marry the man you can't live without."

About Marriage

9. "Don't sweat the small stuff in your marriage. Respect one another and express your respect daily. Pick your battles by level of importance to you. All of this advice stopped me from setting up a pattern that sounds -- and feels -- suspiciously like nagging.

10. "When you marry, you marry the whole family. The two times I married I did not heed her advice, and I am so regretful. I truly believe that having a healthy extended family makes a huge difference in a person's life! I talk to my children about this often and hope they learn from my mistake.

11. "Never shine your boyfriend or husband's shoes. As a teen, I thought it was one of those meaningless old sayings, but in 27 years of marriage, I have discovered that her real message did get through to me. It is about being a real person in your own right, being a partner but not a servant. It has enabled me to keep a sense of myself and a certain amount of dignity in difficult times and I am sure it has helped make my marriage successful."

About the Kitchen

12. "Always organize yourself before any big occasion. Make a written menu, shopping lists and a time schedule for getting things done and tick off each thing as you do it. Plan serving dishes and utensils, refrigerator space and how you will manage the oven and stove. That way all the food is prepared on time, nothing is ruined from keeping it warm too long, and you won't feel rushed."

13. "If you ever want to know what's going on in your daughter's life, make stuffed grape leaves . They take a long time to roll and it gives you all the time you could ever need to chatter about anything! This is also why we weren't allowed to learn how to roll them until we were 11 or 12. That's the age when we stopped talking as much to our mother. My daughter and I just rolled grape leaves together a few weeks ago; we had a great talk!"

About Looking Our Best

14. "Wash your face every morning and every night. I have never deviated from that bit of advice, ever! She also was always after us not to frown -- and, boy, I'm glad she did because I see so many women with frown lines between their eyes and on their foreheads!"

15. "Makeup should enhance what you already have; learning to play up your best features is always more appealing than trying to plaster on a look that's just not you. Less really is more! Also, my mom always said that your hair should frame your face, not shield it! (Remember the late 60's and early 70's!)."

16. "'Stay out of the sun. I am 56 but look 42-ish -- not a wrinkle present on my face!"

About Being a Mother

17. "I am the best advocate for my children. She taught me to not to be afraid to speak up for what they need."

18. "If you let baby cry for a couple of minutes while you take care of your first child, the baby won't remember waiting. My mother told me this the day I brought my newborn daughter home and introduced her to my older daughter. If I always responded to the baby first, she explained, the oldest would resent it."

19. "Make hay while the sun shines. What she meant by that was, get things done while the baby sleeps or is otherwise content. Words of wisdom such as these can be very helpful when you are a new parent and everything is turning your world upside down. To this day, during my daughter's naptime, I have my seven-year-old son take 'quiet time,' too, so I can 'make hay while the sun shines.'"

20. "Always provide unconditional love for your children, no matter what the situation. Even if they seem to have turned against you and say mean things, remember that a mother's love is eternal, and one day they will come back to you with the same love you have given them throughout their lives, and that love will be given to their children as well."