What I Learned From My Mother

I learned from my mother how to
grow carrots as big as my little finger
and how to scrub the dirt off a carrot with my shirt
so I could eat it fresh out of the garden
any time I was hungry.
I learned it’s okay if you laugh at a funeral
because you don’t want to cry.
I learned how to type and sew and knit and crochet.
And I learned how to iron shirts and tablecloths.
I learned that you didn’t want to get
your hands near a wringer washer
or your fingers too close to a sewing machine needle.
I learned not to panic when someone or your
dog got hurt,
and that you could and should
comfort the injured.
I learned how to spell and do my homework and
go to bed when you were making too many mistakes.
I learned that you would do better
with a fresh brain,
than with a tired one.
I learned to make roads in dirt for Tonka trucks
and rivers to drain puddles and how to repair
broken porcelain horses.
I learned how to speak kindly
and share even when it wasn’t what you
wanted to do.
I learned how to pick up a hen
to get an egg from her nest.
I learned how to bake brown rim cookies and use a wet
towel and a glass to flatten them just right
before baking.
I learned that I could be a teacher
if I wanted to,
and that I would be a good one if I did it.
I learned how to draw perspective.
I learned that it was possible to learn things outside of school.
I learned that I could know the names of
butterflies and moths and know any other thing I wanted
to know by reading books or observing.
I learned that reading could take me to the Alps.
I learned that I could dance.
I learned that your family name is important to keep untarnished
not only for you, but for the rest of the family.
I learned that it was expected that you would stand up
for any family member if they were
being criticized or treated unkindly
no matter how much your brother had
just been mean or unfair to you the day before.
I learned that it was okay to make mistakes and
that some of the worst mistakes can
lead to wonderful fixes.
I learned from my mom that you can do anything
for a day,
and that life is made up
of mini adventures that you
can not only handle,
but enjoy.
I learned that no matter
what life has dealt you,
you are the one that chooses to make
the lemonade.
I learned that you never stop missing
a mom.

Sun Feb. 26, 10:19 pm

When I read this Poetry Friday entry at Dori Reads: Poetry Friday: Julia Kasdorf
I wanted to write What I Learned From My Mother.  It was an enjoyable exercise and took me back to so many great childhood days with mom.


  1. It's just beautiful, Donna. There are so many memories here, and probably that you could expand into memoir. I know we're close to the same age & many of your words touched my life too. What a lovely thing you've written for your mother, and the ending brought tears. I still miss my mom & kind of talk to her every day. Thanks for this, my first slice of the day!

    1. It was a fun trip back in time for me. Thanks for letting me know you could relate, too! BTW, I kind of talk to Mom every day too! She always had such good advice. It's a lot of pressure sometimes realizing that we are the "go to Moms" now!

  2. Moms create the person we are. This was enjoyable to read and make me wonder what prompted some of the entries. Talk about an opportunity for inferring! I am a bit disturbed about toes near a sewing machine? :)

    1. LOL! Not toes! Fingers "too close"! Maybe I should change my font! SC! (still chuckling!)

  3. Very inspirational. Mothers do so much for us and even though I am one now myself, I've never stopped learning from my mom.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. I love this line..."life is made up of mini adventures". Agree totally...what a beautiful tribute post that I imagine you crying as you wrote. xo nanc

  5. I loved the lines about choosing to make lemonade - what a great tribute to a beloved mom, who obviously meant so very much to you. Thanks for sharing this, Donna.

  6. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

  7. I found so many lessons from my mother in your poem: the sewing machine, porcelain horses, going to sleep after too many mistakes, not to panic, laughing at a funeral...
    Thanks for the memories!

  8. Hi, I joined the A-Z Challenge and have been checking out some of the blogs. This was beautiful. I agree with Linda: You could write an essay on each topic. You have an entire book here. :) Your post made me happy, sad, introspective. Thanks. You might like my friend's blog--she writes letters to her mom: http://www.lynnobermoeller.blogspot.com

  9. Lovely, Donna. One of my favorite lines is ...go to bed when you were making too many mistakes.

    I had to laugh at that one. Oh, so true. A good night's sleep will work wonders.

    Thanks so much for sharing these many wonderful memories. A good relationship with your mom is a treasure. I'm sure you could probably write a memoir. Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

  10. Donna, this is beautiful. My favorite parts were the bits about standing up for family, no matter how mean your brother was the day before, and also what to watch out for--the wringer washer, the sewing machine needle. Those details really set the scene of your childhood for me. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. awww this is lovely--your mom sounds like she was a great mom and person--i am so happy you shared this with me donna<3


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