By Jackie White
On the occasion of Mother’s Day, I spent some time thinking about moms and the lessons they impart to their children. Everyone’s mother teaches them lessons and those learnings are a part of who we are today. We can learn these great lessons through sharing our stories with others. Today, I want to share with you some of the lessons I have learned from my mom, Theresa Hare.
First of all, let me say that I was lucky when they handed out moms because I had a mom who had a great combination of being tough yet loving, funny and took her job as a mom seriously. I always knew my place in her heart and that is a great foundation for a kid.
Lesson #1: Hard Work Pays Off: My mother was the daughter of an Sicilian Immigrant father who decided to board a ship at age 16 and make a better life for himself in America. He was brave and a pioneer of sorts. He made America his home and worked hard to provide for his family setting the example that hard work pays off. Her father ran several businesses including a bait shop and tavern. Unfortunately, the Prohibition went into effect, but Teresa’s father did what he could to survive. He moved his business to an underground speakeasy where he was smart enough to sell his alcohol to the policemen who weren’t going to arrest him for illegal sales. It was then, Teresa, even as a child, was put to work by being a runner for the grain alcohol to make the moonshine sold in the tavern. Because she learned early that hard work was expected and that it pays off, I did too.
Lesson #2: Keep Persistent (and a Little Stubborn):
Along with her tough father, Teresa’s mother was a second generation Irish. Some say that the Italian and Irish combination can result in a stubborn headstrong individual. I would not argue with that presumption. My mother did what she set out to do. She was stubborn and persistent, which were qualities I learned to revere as part of my heritage.
Lesson #3: Be an Entrepreneur: My mother, Teresa was raised in the Greenbush Italian neighborhood of Madison Wisconsin.There she attended Catholic school and endured the tough teachings of the nuns. Knuckle whacking and tacking her dress to the chair to keep her seated were some of the accepted practices. The nuns even decided her name was spelled incorrectly and changed it from Teresa to Theresa. My mom wasn’t too rattled by it all. She was tough and had an entrepreneur spark even as a kid in elementary school. Her friend Luigi once told me that she kept a stash of pencils in her desk and if anyone needed a pencil she would sell one to them for a nickel! She was always prepared when opportunity knocked. I took note.
Lesson #4: Ask for What You Want: After Catholic school Theresa (with an “H”) went on to West High School, but most of her friends went to Central High School. She wanted to change schools to be with her friends, so she walked to the superintendent’s office by herself and asked if she could make the change. Maybe it was her gumption or her smooth talking personality, but she was granted the request and she graduated from Central High in 1946. She was never one to sit on the sidelines and I learned quickly that I shouldn’t either.
Lesson #5: Know Your Worth (Don’t Take Any Crap From Anyone): Upon graduation, Theresa worked in her father’s bar, now legitimate and located above ground. She worked there with her father and older brother. One memorable story was the day her brother raised his hand to hit her at the bar one day. Her father saw what happened and right then and there told his son he was no longer welcome at the bar. My mom learned that day that her worth was just as important as anyone else’s and that abusive behavior should never be tolerated. This was such an amazing lesson for my mom because in her day, many women were routinely abused. She was the one who stood up for others and in doing so, she taught me that I too will stand up for myself and others.
Lesson #6: Accept Others: She ran the bar for many years with her father, eventually taking it over herself. She met her future husband there, my dad and was brave enough to marry him even though he was a divorced man. For a Catholic woman to marry a divorced man meant she would be excommunicated from the church. She lost her church, but her family approved of Jack. He was, as my grandfather, said “a good used model!” Beyond marrying someone who was “damaged goods” my mom accepted all kinds. She ran a bar and employed people of all walks of life, color and disability. She cared for her customers no matter who they were. I always thank her for that because my collection of friends are varied, diverse and quirky as hell and I love it!
Lesson #7: Show Love in All You Do: My mom wasn’t one of those huggy/kissy moms, but she showed her love in all that she did. She was always there, even though she worked full time. She made it to every play, concert, game or school event. She was the homeroom mom and the Brownie Leader. I think just eating her cooking tasted like love! And even when I was an adult, she’d call everyday and check on me. There was no doubt my mom loved me and if I am doing my job properly, my kids will know how much I love them through words and through my actions.
Lesson #8: Be a Leader: My mom didn’t wait around for things to happen. She made them happen. She took charge and didn’t waiver in her confidence. I always regarded that take-charge kind of attitude as important. What a great lesson for a daughter to see displayed in her mother!
Lesson #9 Be Independent: My mom ran her businesses. Yes, after she married my dad, he signed on, but it was Mom that was the heart and soul of those businesses. She knew how to do everything from soup to nuts! In addition to that she ran her household, kids calendars and social activities. She was a one woman army! She didn’t run over anyone else including her husband, but she was never in a position of being completely reliant on anybody. I saw that she was tough and independent, and that people noticed that about her. I thought I wanted to be just like her.
Lesson #10: Have Fun: If you were fortunate enough to have met my mom, you’d know that having fun in life was important! She hosted parties most week-ends and truly enjoyed the company of others. The lesson here extended to making the most out of the life you have been given and enjoy the process. Even in the end, when my mom was dying, she was still cracking jokes. To me it was such a profound demonstration to show me that everything is ok and we are still going to laugh and smile, right down to the last breath and she did.
My mom taught me these and so many more lessons. On this Mother’s Day take a moment to think about what lessons your mother taught you. And if you are a mom yourself, then consider the lessons you are teaching your kids either intentionally or not. They watch all that you do as you did with your mom.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms here and in Heaven.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.