I’m currently pregnant with my first child. I’m an anxious person and I’ve been worried about countless things: Will our baby be healthy? Do we have everything we need for the nursery? Is the crib we’re looking to buy safe? Will I be a good mom?
That last worry is the one that has been dominating my mind as of late. Parenting is a tricky, complex task, and no parent is perfect. But I want to prime myself to be the best possible mom I can be. So I did some research.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked different people to share the best piece of advice they ever received from their mom or the motherly figure in their life.
“One of my favorite pieces of advice that my mom ever gave me is: Listen to the person’s advice who has nothing to lose or gain from your decision.”
—Charlene Bazarian; attorney; Reading, Massachusetts
“Always prepare early. Give yourself enough time so you have peace of mind and don’t have to rush.”
—Heather Watkins; disability rights advocate; Boston
“The best advice my mom ever gave me is to never look back because life only moves forward. As a person with anxiety disorders, I often get stuck in the past. Whenever I get stuck in a rut, I think of what my mom always told me, and I’m able to keep moving forward and not dwell on the past.”
—Tsvetty Kolarova; social work student; Toronto
“The one thing my mom drilled into me was to have good posture. She constantly told me to sit up straight at the dining table and not slouch while standing. As a teen, it was very annoying. But since then, I have thanked my mother countless times for this lesson.
“It seems like such a small thing, but it isn’t. I’ve read that good posture makes you more confident and more attractive, and it gives non-verbal clues to others that you are self-assured and powerful.”
—Kathleen Owens; financial advisor; Hilton Head, South Carolina
“With this being her first Mother’s Day as a new mom, I have to give credit to my beautiful wife, Lauren, for her constant reassurance that, in our journey of parenthood, it’s OK that we don’t have all the answers and mistakes are inevitable.
“As she’ll say, ‘We don’t even know what we don’t know.’ Being reminded of that regularly brings me so much relief, because I tend to put pressure on myself to do everything perfectly when it comes to our 3-month-old little girl.
“She keeps me balanced and remembering that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and the most important thing is to be loving and patient, not only with our daughter, but with ourselves.”
—Josh Ellis; SUCCESS editor in chief; Dallas
“The best piece of advice my mom ever gave me was that there is no reason to be jealous of anyone. She said, ‘You have two hands and a brain. If you want something someone else has, go out and get it on your own.’ That is how I live my life.”
—Ilena Di Toro; small business owner; Philadelphia
“When I was a kid, we had a swimming pool in our backyard. One day, I got hurt doing a trick in the water. It was only a bruise, but I decided I was done for the day. My mom stopped me. She told me to do it again. ‘I’m too scared,’ I told her. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’
“‘No,’ my mom said, ‘you need to do it today because you’re scared. If you wait until tomorrow or some other day, the feeling of being scared will get bigger. And once it gets bigger, it will get harder for you to do it again.’
“I’ll never forget that advice. The more we hesitate over something, the bigger it becomes. But that’s exactly why you should do it again. Do it right away, and don’t give your brain the opportunity to turn a stumble into a setback.”
—Jandra Sutton; author; Nashville, Tennessee
“I’ve always loved my mom and she’s always been my best friend. I know that I didn’t appreciate her enough until I became a mom myself.
“When my first child was 10 days old, my mom found me hiding in my closet, crying from the exhaustion of being a new mom. She embraced me with the empathy of a friend and a mother. She told me I could do this because I have to. It may seem like tough love, but it is exactly what I needed to hear.
“As mothers, we work hard to care for and provide all of the needs of our children. It often goes unrecognized because you don’t always see moms hiding in their closets crying from the pain of trying to be everything. Instead we just do it, and we support all the awesome moms out there!”
—Lauren Cannon; SUCCESS senior digital director; Dallas
“Anytime I would be in an emotional spiral as a child, my mother would tell me, ‘Do not feed the fears.’ It serves as a reminder that we have a choice: Choose to feed logic and find a solution or choose to feed emotions and unravel.”
—Daryl Appleton; psychotherapist; New York City
“I grew up in India, and it was a completely different social platform. Being a girl was a disadvantage there. My mother gave me a lifetime of advice, but the most important thing she told me was that being a girl—being a woman—was my biggest strength and I should use it accordingly.”
—Maneet Chauhan; celebrity chef and Food Network personality; Nashville, Tennessee
“My mom puts her whole heart into everything she does. For my sisters and me. For my family. Her friends. Even strangers. I admire her for so many things, but especially her generosity.
“I know what she’s doing right now without asking: sewing. She started as soon as there was a need and she hasn’t stopped since. She is part of a mask brigade making and donating protective wear to health care workers and first responders. She’s sewn almost 500 masks since the start of this pandemic, and I know she’ll keep going as long as there are requests.
“My mom’s mission has always been to help others, and her selfless dedication to that has shown me that nothing matters quite like giving kindness. Our actions leave an impact, and we can all make a difference in this life if we just choose to look for the opportunity to help.”
—Jessica Larijani; SUCCESS director of digital content; Dallas
“The best piece of advice my mother ever gave me came as a conversation that turned into a guiding principle in my life. I remember her telling me that all she wishes for me is happiness. She said, ‘Always do what makes you truly happy, even if it goes against what others try to tell you is best for you, because only you know.’
“This—along with the understanding that this was not to be used in a selfish manner and always with the well-being of others in mind—has helped me at many points in my life.”
—Rachel Meakins; doula; Toronto
“The wisdom of my grandmother was the major influence to shift my mindset and move me toward greater self-belief. The one lesson that always stood out to me was to love myself. Her insight helped me view every failure as a learning experience and not allow fear to dictate my life. Although she’s not here physically, her spirit of determination is one of the greatest gifts she could have given me.”
—Garrett Hughes; SUCCESS director of digital marketing; Dallas
“The best piece of advice my mom ever gave me is that pain + reflection = growth. Life is a journey where you continuously evolve and become the best version of yourself. If we stay in our comfort zones and never go beyond them, we will never truly live. We are meant to experience life and the world. To shelter ourselves out of fear and cling to what we know only inhibits our growth.”
—Alex Azoury; entrepreneur; Byron Bay, Australia
“Don’t worry twice. You don’t need to worry about something you think might happen in the future—if it happens, deal with it at that time. For now, just live in the present.”
—Tania Elliott; allergist/immunologist; New York City
“From the time I was a little girl, my mom told me the story of the bumblebee. She’d tell me that the bumblebee was just a plump little bug with tiny little wings—wings that were far too small to hold him up—but regardless, he flew. She’d say that he flew because no one ever told him he couldn’t, and then she’d tell me that I was the bumblebee.
“Today, my mom still tells me the same story. A story that has led me through each and every milestone in my life. And because she believed I was the bumble bee, I did, too.”
—Madison Plott, SUCCESS multimedia content producer; Dallas
“Are you happy with who you are and your decisions? At the end of the day, you are the one and only person you have no matter what. Make sure you like yourself.”
—Lily Nielsen; secretary; Eureka, California
“Mom: ‘You’ll never be happy unless you realize you are happy right now.’ Translation: Happiness is all about perspective. If you wait for something to be perfect or just as you planned, it will never happen. Instead, focus on feeling the love and gratitude around you.”
—Charles McElroy; entrepreneur; Cincinnati
“As I experience the world for the first time with a toddler, it has given me a deeper appreciation for everything my mom did to raise me. Her love, selflessness and perseverance guide me through the stages of motherhood. She taught me to be fearless and to always be the best version of myself, qualities that I want to pass on to my children.
“She is truly a blessing to everyone she encounters by inspiring kindness and welcoming them with a humble heart. Her character will forever be a legacy I will proudly carry on, and I am so honored to be her daughter and thankful for the beautiful life she has given me.”
—Ingrid Ulloa; SUCCESS social media manager; San Antonio
“The best advice I ever received from my mom wasn’t something she said, but rather how she lives her life. She enjoys the ordinary moments. My mom loves sipping coffee in the morning and talking about the novels we’re reading. She loves to fill the bird feeder and watch all the different birds come to eat. My mom can make a bowl of popcorn and a movie into the most special occasion ever because she takes such pleasure in ordinary things.”
—Sherry Richert Belul; entrepreneur; San Francisco
“You’d think that raising nine children would try any mother’s patience on a daily basis. But my mother was a model of calm and cool. She had a quiet kindness, genuine care, love and compassion for others. I’d like to think that these are the most important lessons she taught me and my brothers and sister.”
—Hugh Murphy; SUCCESS product marketing manager; Dallas
“My mother’s advice was quite simple: ‘There will always be something.’”
—Desirée Rogers; former social secretary for President Barack Obama; Chicago
“The best piece of advice my mom ever gave me was to be kind, especially in the face of someone else’s anger. She said that kindness creates a ripple effect we often cannot see and that anger is often fear in disguise. The best way to counterbalance it is through kindness.”
—Kat Medina; writer; San Jose, California
“The best advice from my mother was: If you wouldn’t want it published on the front page of the newspaper—don’t do it. This advice has helped me both personally and in business.”
—Ineke McMahon; executive recruiter; Brisbane, Australia
“My grandmother was a special woman. I always remember her reciting a poem she loved when I was a child: ‘The only things you need in life are this: a book, a pipe, a friend, and just a little cash to spend.’
“She didn’t smoke and neither do I, but the lesson of the poem has always stuck with me: It’s important to enjoy the simple things in life. Whenever I find myself worrying about problems I know are insignificant, I remember this little poem and it grounds me.”
—Jamie Friedlander; freelance writer; Chicago
“My mom taught me what it means to love unconditionally.
“I didn’t realize it as a kid, but now that I’m all grown up and working full time, I’m in awe of just how much my mom did for me and my siblings. Everything she did, she did for her kids and she’d stop at nothing to make sure we were happy and healthy. She never missed an event. Not a single game or recital. She was always there intentionally cheering louder than every other mom in the crowd no matter how embarrassing it was for her children. We always had dinner on the table at night and clean clothes to wear in the morning. On top of all of it, she somehow managed to work a full-time job with bosses that demanded more and more of her time.
“Here I am, age 30, no kids, a full-time job, and a consistent daily struggle to find a clean pair of pants. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how she did it all without going crazy. When I ask her how she did it, she always says the same thing: ‘I’d do anything for my children.’ That’s unconditional love. That’s my mom.”
—Blake Stepan; SUCCESS marketing specialist; Portland
Photo by @dbpicado/Twenty20.com
Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications. When she's not writing, she can usually be found drinking matcha tea into excess, traveling somewhere new with her husband or surfing Etsy late into the night.