Mama used to say

debra's mom

When my mother was alive, and Life threw me curve balls, I’d call her to share my trials and tribulations. Mama used to say to me: ‘careful dear, sometimes the bad is actually good disguised.’ And ‘never make assumptions.’


Naturally I’d roll my eyes at her ready-made catch phrases about how to tackle life,  but as time passes, I find myself pitching similar phrases to my own children. Sometimes when I draw blanks to questions my kids ask me, I feel like I step out of myself for a minute as I let my mother channel through me her wisdom and inspiration.


What do we say to our kids when they come home from school and the world weighs heavily on their hearts? When inside, we also feel like the world is going haywire? Recently my daughter has faced a period in school life with a bully who is both hostile and mean towards her. At first, I am not going to lie, I felt like telling her to punch the girl. Yes, just sock it to her nose, I thought to myself as I listened to my daughter in the car ride home. Instead, I bit my tongue and tried to recollect some peaceful mantra that I might have learned on my travels to sages in India and abroad. Of course Gandhi and his famous phrase, an eye for eye will make the whole world blind, came to mind. Instantly I thought of my mama, who used to say: Deb, when you don’t know what to do or how to evolve a situation, kill em with kindness! I’d scoff at all her zen intentions and yet there I was, years later, sitting in traffic, preaching to my own daughter how love can only ever be met with more love.


Just yesterday, I watched my daughter smile to her enemy and let our puppy do the rest. By God, Mama was a wise woman. I watched the girl transform into another child with all the outpour of love.


This year my beloved mother would have been 69 if she had survived the complicated pneumonia that took her away from my family ten years ago.


I can see her smiling to herself as I sit and watch my son fall to his knees while running up and down the court at his basketball practice. I keep repeating to myself the single phrase that has stuck with me the most, and certainly the one I repeat over and over to my children: the only thing that matters in life is not how many times you fall down, its that you get back up and fight.


What is the most important life lesson your mother has taught you?

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