Sometimes the people who are major influencers in your life don’t want a lot of attention brought to that fact.

My mother, Phyllis Brown, is one of those people. She would prefer to go unnoticed. Being the center of attention is her least-favorite place. That’s why I don’t write about her much.

Today, though, it’s time to recognize her turning 85 and share some of her motherly lessons.

motherly lessons

9 Motherly Lessons for Mom's Birthday

For the first eighteen years of my life, my mother shaped my perspectives, attitudes, and life view very directly. As a stay-at-home mom, we spent many, many hours together. To celebrate her birthday, I want to share nine motherly lessons I learned from my mom (one for every decade) that remain with me today:

1. Use questions to discover things about people.

Showing genuine interest and giving someone room to talk is an outstanding way to get to understand them better.

2. Listen openly.

This goes along with the first, although that’s not always the case with people. So many people over the years sat at my parents’ kitchen table as they shared their hopes and unburdened themselves of their challenges. Through it all, mom listened with an amazing lack of judgment.

3. Always maintain your inner circle.

Because mom has never been one to go out and meet lots of new people, keeping a tight group of confidants (typically, close relatives) is something she has always done.

4. Exhibit intense constancy and faithfulness toward people.

Whether knowing my dad for 80 years, being married for 63 years, or still checking in with high school classmates, mom doesn’t easily let people slip away. I try to do the same with people.

5. In any relationship, someone must provide the foundation.

Motherly Lessons

My dad was the one in the family with the big plans, speculative investment ideas, and go-up-and-talk-to-anyone attitude. With a big thinker like that, it helps to have someone who is ALWAYS going to be grounded. That was Mom.

6. As best you can, don’t over-celebrate the highs or wallow in the lows of life.

Always taking a reserved approach to anything that happens keeps you on the even keel.

7. Wear long sleeves and stay out of the sun.

For those of you who wonder why I wear a sport coat to Walmart, please refer to this lesson. Seriously.

8. You needn't blatantly show your smarts.

My mom was at or near the top of her high school class (she won’t say which one), kills at Scrabble, and is sharp as anything. Nevertheless, you’re NEVER going to hear her say a word about any of that (Dad was always the one to report his own daily trouncing at Scrabble).

9. A competitive spirit is a tremendous way to motivate yourself.

And if a little competitiveness is good, an intense competitive streak is even better. (Thus, the Scrabble trouncing streak Dad endured.)

Happy Birthday, Mom, and I hope you have MANY, MANY MORE!!!

Mike Brown