When I think of the word mother, I think of the smell of bacon sandwiches cooking on a Saturday morning to cure a hangover, I think of dancing in my pyjamas to David Bowie, I think of long shopping trips and boozy cocktail fuelled afternoons, I think of glossy lipsticks and Elnett hairspray and trashy reality TV. When I think of my Mam, I think of all of the above, but mostly I feel her kindness, warmth, strength, passion, ferocity and laughter. I have been lucky enough to have my mother for 26 years, and even luckier to have one that has supported me and offered me 100s of wise words of advice throughout my life. Such nuggets include “Don’t regret what has happened, because at the time you made a decision to do something you felt was right”, “You can never have too many friends” and “Buy the dress, go on the night out, stay for one more drink, you can worry about it tomorrow”.
For this Mothering Sunday, we asked some of you what is the best piece of maternal advice you’ve ever received. Be it from the mouth of a dear best friend, a caring nana, a mothering father, a single mum, an adopted parent, a fostered family member, a step-parent or from those mothers who are no longer here. Hopefully, you will find a morsel of wisdom in this plethora of motherly advice (or at least feel comfort in the fact that we’re all just making it through the best we can too).
Laura Sophia-Rose Bennett, words from her late Nan.
“Always carry lipstick, tissues and wear nice pants. SOD what anybody else thinks. Do what makes you happy, just don’t get caught. If you decide to do something, DO IT… before your mind tries to talk you out of it. If someone tells you to do something… do the opposite”
Louise Henry, advice from her Mam.
“I’m an only child, but I feel like I’ve always shared my mam with other girls. On Friday evenings after school, my female friends would pile into my kitchen, drink cheap white zinfandel, and smoke even cheaper fags. Never one to shuffle off to bed whilst we pickled our livers into underage oblivion, she was a firm member of our girl group, with her Primark pyjamas and impeccable taste in disco music.
Looking back, her presence was an essential pillar of support to us all. I’d always taken my mam’s openness for granted, yet week after week my friends poured open their hearts with stories of sexual assault, drugs misuse, friendship woes, and boyfriend troubles that their own parents would never hear.
In a world where young girls’, and indeed young boys’ stories are seldom believed, my mam gave each of us a voice, and a safe space to talk without judgement. I learned a lot from her during those Friday evenings, but most importantly, I learned to listen.”
Courtney Stuart, words from her Mam.
“My mam told me ‘Don’t forget your smear test, you haven’t booked it’. This week I’m having an operation to remove abnormal cells from my cervix.”
Laura Hunt, advice from a maternal father, who has had particular opinions of past ex-boyfriends.
“My Dad always asked if I could actually see myself having a real future and a marriage with the person that I am with, and if I couldn’t then what’s the point, you may as well be single and enjoy yourself. Life’ too short to waste your time. My dad gives good advice, but my mum is better at picking up the pieces.”
Claire Loughlin, from her hardworking mother.
“My mum raised me to never be off school unless I was practically bleeding from the head. She would never let me be off unless I was really unwell. At the time I thought it was unfair but it’s ingrained in me now and I very rarely miss a days work because I know I can just get on with it. I credit it to the work ethic I have today.”
Sarah Walker, advice from the big sister that raised her.
“Don’t take any shit from boys, you can break their heart harder than they can break yours. Always wear heels above 4 inches and carry an extra tampon at all times.”
Sarah Harris, advice from my Mom.
“In the words of Nike, my Mom always tells me to JUST DO IT. And as far as relationships go? Don’t live is a fairytale.”
Melanie Wong, cheesy advice from a foster parent.
“My very first foster mum used to tell me that it wasn’t about where I had come from, but where I was going. I know it sounds really cheesy, but at the time it rang so true as an angry child who was so fixated on how I had got to where I was, and not the potential of what was right in front of me. It seems like a cringe quote you would now find on a wooden wall hanging, but when I feel stuck I remind myself of it and it keeps me focused on where I’m headed.”
Chloe Taylor, wonderful advice from a wise grandma.
“My grandma once told me ‘don’t put your umbrella up before it rains’ which now always reminds me to not worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.”
Jo Thompson, on her best friend that has always given the loving advice she has needed.
“Me and my best friend have known each other since we were 9 years old. She used to come round my house and we would share baked beans and turkey dinosaurs and watch Tracey Beaker. We would make up dance routines and perform them to anybody who would watch and on the weekend we would go to the swimming club together and stay at each other’s houses, playing dream phone and eating sweets.
I guess it’s weird that I would think of her on mothers day, but my relationship with my birth mother isn’t as straight forward as it could be. So when it comes to
advice, I ask my best friend. We’re the same age and have had very similar life experiences, but there is something about her kindness, empathy and understanding of everything about me, that makes me listen to her every word. I know that in the most maternal way she only ever wants what is best for me. So, best advice? Remember that everyone is as just as nervous/anxious as I am about the unknown, so to just bite the bullet and go for it anyway. What is the worst that can happen?”
We hope your Mothering Sunday was a time to celebrate those who offer you maternal support, traditional or otherwise, and that these wise words will stay with you.
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