What I Learned from My Mother

by Ashley Solomon

Oh how I hate being cliche… but how could I not make a Mother’s Day post? Since I know that all of you have brunches to attend and mandatory runs to the florist to complete, I’ll keep this short. I just wanted to share with you all a beautiful poem I just read by a Pennsylvanian poet, Julia Kasdorf (1992).

What I Learned From My Mother

I learned from my mother how to love

the living, to have plenty of vases on hand

in case you have to rush to the hospital

with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants

still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars

large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole

grieving household, to cube home-canned pears

and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins

and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.

I learned to attend viewing even if I didn’t know

the deceased, to press the moist hands

of the living, to look in their eyes and offer

sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.

I learned that whatever we say means nothing,

what anyone will remember is that we came.

I learned to believe I had the power to ease

awful pains materially like an angel.

Like a doctor, I learned to create

from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once

you know how to do this, you can never refuse.

To every house you enter, you must offer

healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,

the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

I’ll have to create a separate post (or possibly blog) to describe everything I’ve learned from my own mother, but here are a few highlights. I’ve learned… That tomorrow is another day. To wait until the person has cleared the vicinity to start gossiping about them. That being true to myself is the most important thing I can do. That I can’t please everyone. That microwaving does in fact count as cooking. That I am smart. That no one can make me feel inferior without my consent (so she might have stolen that one from Elenore Roosevelt, but I’ll always attribute it to her). That french fries sometimes can be a vegetable. To express how I feel. That a woman can both work and raise a family. That my partner should love and respect me without condition. To take a stand for what I believe in. And to embrace the present.

So, on this beautiful day devoted to those who have loved and supported us…

What have you learned from your mother?


7 Comments to “What I Learned from My Mother”

  1. Oh geez, too much to list.

    I guess #1 is to aim for the moon, because even if you fall short, you’ll still be flying among the stars.

  2. To always save room for dessert. You could die tomorrow, so eat a brownie today.

  3. As many things as you may have learned from me, can’t compare to how much I have learned from you….

    Love you,

  4. I learned to have a strong faith in the Lord.
    I learned to value people regardless of their financial station in life—to look past what others see and see the real person.
    I learned a good work ethic as she was my first boss as a grocery clerk.
    I learned to be kind as I watched her kindness to strangers.
    I learned to believe in myself, that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and that is how I raised my children

  5. Most importantly I learned how to Love. In addition – To be there for others, doing what you can to help, even if it’s just to listen. The value of hard work. Kindness. I learned how important it was to be there for my children, every game, every performance, in anything they chose to do. On this Mother’s Day I wish I could tell her how much I love her, and value all her lessons and How very much I miss her.

  6. You have learned so great things from your mom. What wonderful tools she has given you.

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