05/08/2012 06:59 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2012

The Three Best Things My Mother Ever Taught Me

Mothers are known for giving advice -- both the asked for and the unsolicited kind. This year, in honor of Mother's Day, I celebrate all of the wisdom that my own mom passed on to me through her words and, more importantly, in her actions over the years:

Don't Worry About What Others Think

My mother was the dance-in-the-aisles-of-the-supermarket kind of mom. The one who cheered too loudly at my cross-country meets and elbowed her way to the front of the stage to take photos of me at the Spelling Bee. I remember feeling embarrassed a time or two, but I also knew, even way back then, that her overzealousness came from a place of love. One day, when her singing-aloud-to-Christmas-carols-at-the-mall was just a little too much to take, I asked her to stop. She said to me, "I don't care what other people think of me and you shouldn't either." I always remembered those words and to this day understand how right she was. It is a message I try to to my own daughters, in my efforts to help them feel proud of who they are at all times.

Want What You Have

My mom's house is not what you would call a "designer showpiece." Mismatched furniture, patched pillows, and jerry-rigged appliances can be found in any given room. To my eye, I can always think of a good gift for her -- something new to replace an old, worn item. The thing I love and admire about my mom, though, is that while she is a gracious gift receiver, she would have been just as happy to keep her old items in their tattered condition. For her, it's not about having what she wants so much as wanting what she has. My mom is proud of her ability to hold on to old possessions and keep them in working -- if not pristine -- condition. She is known for having 25 people at her Thanksgiving table and I've never heard a-one of them complain that her dining room chairs are mismatched. They love her, as do I, for who she is.

Savor Moments

Though I am a Type-A do-er by nature, the side of me that was nurtured by my mother knows that savoring my daughters' giggles, playing endless games of tag, and spending an extra 20 minutes talking about everything/nothing before bed are among the most important moments my life will ever know. My lists, errands, tasks, and must-do's will always be there, but my children are only young once -- and for too short a time. I am grateful to my mother for setting the example of giving me the gift of her time and savoring the moments we spent together.

Signe Whitson, LSW is a mother of two girls, educator on bullying, and author of How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Guide for Kids and Teens. For workshop inquiries, please visit her at, "Like" her on Facebook or Follow her on Twitter @SigneWhitson.