05/05/2014 03:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Things I Learned (and Wish I Had Learned) From Mom

The story of my own birth has always fascinated me.

It was 1971 and my parents lived in Yonkers, N.Y. Mom had heard through the grapevine of a doctor in Bronxville who could put you to sleep, and then when you'd wake up, your baby was already born. Without any surgery. No C-section, no nothing.

And that's what happened -- Mom went to sleep and when she woke up there I was. How the hell I got here is a mystery, but that's what happened.

Like many little girls, I grew up in awe of my mom. I thought she was the prettiest, hippest, kindest woman on the planet.

My mom Bonnie was born and raised in Pittsford, N.Y., just outside of Rochester. She still has that distinct upstate accent and introduced me to important upstate New York-y things like Powder Mills Park and frozen custard.

My brother Mike and I were raised in Ossining, home of Sing Sing Prison and Season One Don and Betty Draper. It was an idyllic street, town and mid-to-late '70s upbringing -- all complete with an idyllic mother who quit her job as a secretary at Xerox after I was born to stay at home and raise us up right.

I would beam with pride at the pretty woman coming through my classroom door with sugar cookies shaped like hearts, pumpkins and Christmas ornaments. That was my mom.

I learned so much from her as a mom that I have mimicked/soaked up, trying to share and pass on to my two boys, who are 6 and 8. I don't know if I do any of them half as well as she did (example: the cookies), but I love that they remind me so much of my childhood and so much of her.

1. Holidays.
Each and every holiday was acknowledged and celebrated, all thanks to Mom. Paper cutouts of hearts, pilgrims, flags, bunnies -- and don't get me started on what a big deal Halloween and Christmas were. I learned holiday magic from my mom. As a kid, those cheap paper cutouts on the back of the front door were a huge deal. My boys love seeing the big boxes with holiday stuff coming out of the garage -- and so do I.

2. Truthfulness.
My mother always said to me, "Don't ever lie to me, Lori, because if you do I'll always find out in the end." These words were said many a time to me from age 13 to 18... you'd think I'd learn. As usual, she was right -- she always found out and always tried to help me find the lesson in why I felt it was necessary to not tell her the truth. As my boys get older, I'm trying to instill this sense of honesty in them and let them know they can always come to me with the truth (because I'll always find out in the end, right?).

3. Sense of Fashion.


4. Thank you.
Mom taught us manners beyond "please" and "thank you." The art of the thank you card was instilled in us from a young age. My boys have learned this too, and for that, I am thankful.

5. Birthdays.
When we came down the stairs on our birthday, our presents and cards were set on the couch, on display before we went to school. The "birthday couch" went on through high school. I do this now for my boys, and they talk about it the night before their big day -- how when they wake up the gifts will be on the birthday couch. It's a little thing, but it makes me think of Mom every birthday eve.


Me, Mike, the birthday couch -- I got a tiny TV with a giant antenna!

And there are things she did I wish I would have paid more attention to. Things I wish would have soaked in, like:

6. Dinnertime.
Meatloaf, beef stroganoff, pork chops and hamloaf -- anyone else remember hamloaf? My mom worked all day on dinner, bless her. I still dream about her Tomato Noodle Dandy casserole. On the off night when she couldn't get it together and we'd have pancakes for dinner, Mike and I would tell her, "Mom, you're the best cook in the world." Sorry, Mom.

7. Doll Cakes.
I also still dream about these... that Wonder Woman doll cake was epic.



8. Cleaning.
I don't know where my mom found the time to keep the house neat as a pin but she did -- the house was always spotless (mine is not). And there were always vacuum cleaner lines on the carpet (not at my house). Sometimes she'll give me a can of Scrubbing Bubbles that she bought at the store because it was "on sale." (*wink wink*)

I love my mom. I'm so grateful for her and how much love she showed me and how much she taught me. I hope to be the same kind of mom for my boys. Fun, loving, trusting and so, so giving.

She lives within walking distance of our house now. She is "Mooma" to my boys and they beg for sleepovers, dinners and playdates at her house.

And she continues on with the holiday traditions, the making you feel like a king or queen on your birthday, the pleases and thank you's and yes... every once in a while, she still busts out the Tomato Noodle Dandy.


Lori's website, Drawn to the 80s, is where her 5-year-old draws the music hits of the 1980's. Her blog, Once Upon a Product, is where she writes about important things like beauty products, and her obsessions with food and Mick Jagger.

This post is part of HuffPost Parents' Mother's Day series, exploring the lessons our moms taught us about parenting.