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MM 2016 #1 What My Momma Taught Me

Why Mothering Matters: Thirteen Things My Momma Taught Me


photo of MA & Mom in paddleboat
Mary G Pope (Momma Pope) & Maryanne, 1973

 “The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.”

– Elaine Heffner

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I got to thinking about all the fantastic life lessons my Mom taught me over the years – in her own weird, wonderful and highly effective way.

So I jotted them down in this blog and thought this would be a perfect way to kick-off the Mothering Matters 2016 blog series.

Here are the 13 things I learned from my Mom (a.k.a. Momma Pope):

1. A love of animals

We always had pets growing up. And my Mom always took me with her to the vet whenever we had to take a pet in…sometimes even when the time came for a beloved pet to be put down. I learned to love and respect animals, how to care for them properly and treat them kindly – and when to let them go 🙁

2. A love of theatre

My Mom loved to go to the theatre to see plays and musicals…and she always took me. From a very young age, I grew to cherish that moment right before a play begins – when the theatre lights dim and you just never knew what was going to happen on stage. It is perhaps no surprise that I became a playwright.

3. A love of travel

Momma Pope loved to travel – and she usually took me with her. But not always. Sometimes she went on her own…and now that I’m older and on my own, I totally get that. As fun, exciting and interesting as travel can be, it can also be challenging, expensive and exhausting. Learning the ropes as a young traveler is a heck of a lot easier than when you’re an old fart.

4. Proper nutrition

My Mom was a nurse and did a stint in community health – so she knew the importance of balanced nutrition. To this day, I cannot eat a dinner that does not include vegetables and I have to have fruit and some sort of protein for breakfast.

5. The importance of strong interpersonal skills and making people feel welcome

Growing up, my Mom and her Mom (my Grandma, Nan Nan) liked to have tea parties in our home. And since I was the only girl in the family, guess who got to serve all the ladies their tea & cookies? What this did, however, was teach me, at an early age, how to interact with people who were not my family or friends. This early exposure to dealing with people has come in very handy over the years. I can network a room like nobody’s business and I know how to make guests feel welcome in my home.

6. The importance of getting away

When life was getting too hectic, my Mom had the wisdom to get away – even if it meant just staying at a local hotel for a night or two. Time away from home often helps give one a different perspective.

7. How to handle money

I learned the money basics from my Mom early in life: saving, investing, staying clear of debt and living within your means. But I must confess to not necessarily practicing them very well…at least, not until circumstances forced me to. My Mother was a shopper through and through – but as much as she loved buying shoes, she loved buying stocks more.

8. Do the most important thing FIRST in the day

Then it’s done!

9. Gratitude

Be thankful for all that you have…and write a thank you card when someone gives you a gift.

10. Independence

Momma Pope was a single Mom. She ran the roost. She ran her own life. She handled her own money. She worked full time and raised kids. My Mother did what she had to do – and what she wanted to do. This may help explain why I have been single for so many years…which is not necessarily a good thing. I have much to learn about how to compromise 🙂

11. Learning is a lifelong process

My Mom was still taking University adult-education courses in her seventies.

12. Stay active

I was very fortunate to be able to do all sorts of sports when I was a kid and young adult: soccer, downhill and cross-country skiing, ballet, basketball, badminton, etc. I don’t do those particular sports much anymore but I do keep active on a daily basis: walking, hiking, yoga and dancing. Movement is life

13. Get out into nature

I remember hiking in the mountains when I was six. They weren’t necessarily big hikes we went on – just enough to get us out into nature, burn off a little steam and eat yummy trail mix. Hiking is still how I spend the majority of my weekends – trail mix and all. I just add more chocolate chips.

And since I was the youngest, after my brothers had left home I got stuck doing the bulk of the gardening. I wasn’t too fussed about it at the time but it sure comes in handy now, caring for my own garden…and somewhere along the way I learned to love it.

14. Bonus (sort of ): Listen to your conscience

Momma Pope was unbelievably good at making us kids feel GUILT. As a result, all four of us have an extremely strong (and loud) conscience. This can be a real pain in the ass at times – because let’s face it, life is a heck of a lot easier if you don’t always listen to that little voice inside your head telling you what is right and what is wrong.

But, as our Mom also taught us, life isn’t supposed to be easy. Yes, it can be lots of fun and a great adventure at times. But if we want a better world, then we have to help make that happen…one good decision at a time.

MA & Mom at dining room table
Maryanne & her Mom, 1998

I would love to hear some of the things YOUR Mom taught you, so shoot me an e-mail if you like!

mothering matters logo 2011

To learn more about the Mothering Matters blog series and/or to subscribe, please click here.

Related blogs by Maryanne:

When a Fear Demands to Be Faced

Even the Best Parties Have to End

My Way

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.


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4 thoughts on “MM 2016 #1 What My Momma Taught Me”

  1. You mom taught you lots of wonderful things. I can relate to all of them. My personality compromises just because it does! But it still isn’t easy! Life is full of what ifs and wants. I am happy with my life, but it’s natural to think about the what ifs….
    Take Care and you gave lots of good memories.

  2. Things my mother taught me….

    Sometimes I look at a list like yours and don’t feel like my mother taught me all those things. We never traveled. We NEVER went to theatre. I wasn’t allowed to do extra curricular sports and activities. (Because there was always work to be done on the farm) But because there was always work to be done on the farm I guess I inadvertently learned the love of animals, all while enjoying the outdoors, sights and sounds of nature, and how to work and enjoy it. She taught me that If you want something, work for it.

    ~don’t waste food. Eat left overs. If not fit for human consumption, at least feed an animal with it.

    ~ to be thankful that I’m able to work. That I have a healthy and able body to work with.

    ~ taking pride in having a beautiful yard.

    ~ how to grow a garden and be sustainable

    Much to her dismay she tried to teach me to follow her religion and I just didn’t. In fact it taught me what I didn’t want. I’m not sure where I got my extremely open mind from. But I believe about as far from the opposite of how I was raised. How do you explain that? Having said that, the religion did teach strong family values, that I still hold. And I guess a lot of the 10 commandments, which are good to live by.

    Maybe how to forgive. Even though at times, I was a horrible teenager. She forgave me and still loves me. A valuable lesson as I now have a teenager daughter of my own.

    I don’t per say ever remember having any money management lessons. But again inadvertently from never having much money, I learned to do with out and to make do with what you have. And that money doesn’t buy you happiness. But that is hard to keep at bay all the time. Because boy o boy money does drive us. It’s why we work so hard and I too want to do so much more. More travelling etc.

    She also taught me that home made food is the best. Especially baking. You can’t buy any baking as good as you can make it. She probably didn’t teach me proper nutrition because most of my baking I still do, which are her recipes, contain a lot of yummy sugar butter and white flour! I also like to cook and fry things with my saved bacon fat. But we always had wholesome foods, fruits and veggies, whatever we could from the garden. When I was feeding my first child her pablum, she commented to me oh it’s so bland, don’t you put some sugar in it? What??? No wonder I’m addicted to sugar. She started us all out on pablum at 3 months old, obviously making it very yummy for us. Good thing none of us have a weight problem! And keep active by working hard which we all got from her as well.

    So I guess she did teach me a lot, when a person sits down and makes a list…

  3. I’ll say your Mom taught you a LOT, Jac!!! You are so right…it is when we actually sit down and start making a list of all the things, that we are able to realize what we were taught – the good, the bad and the ugly 🙂

    I loved your list…thank you SO much for sharing!

  4. Hi Joyce! Life sure IS chock-full of “ifs” and “wants” – we are human, after all 🙂

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