What I Learned From My Mother

May 04

My mother and father were married back in the 1950s. Dad had graduated from college a few months before and was ready to begin his Adult Life.

Mom? Well, Mom dropped out of school to get married. That’s what many young women did back in Mississippi in the 1950s. After high school, they went to the state Women’s College in order to pursue their M.R.S. degree.MomCropped

Mom dutifully met a nice young man who was graduating from the other state college 25 miles down the highway and ended her educational career after three semesters.

Well, not exactly.

Because, you see, what I learned from my mother is that you’re never to old to learn new things or pursue your dreams.

Instead of ending her educational career, Mom had a couple of children, waited until my brother and I started school, and then went back to school herself. BMCollegeBlack:WhiteAt the time, I thought it was just some odd thing my mother had decided to do. I was actually a bit annoyed with her because she had less time to cater to my every whim.

Hey, I was 8. All 8-year-olds are self-centered.

Now I realize just how radical her actions were. In the 1960s, in small town Mississippi, there was no such thing as the “non-traditional” college student. When a woman left higher education to get married, that was that.

When my mother was in her mid-30s, she started going to classes with teenagers. She was older than some of her professors. In that place and time college students simply didn’t have children. Mom had to figure out on her own how to be a wife, a mother, and a student when there was no such thing as daycare and she was “too old” to go back to school.

That’s who my mother is. She’s a strong woman who pursued her dreams anyway.

Mom eventually got her Master’s Degree.

Her enthusiasm for learning new things has never ended. When the empty nest struck, she pursued her dream of becoming a fiber artist. MomRecentCropped

Now in her mid-70s, she still takes classes, goes to workshops, and learns new things all the time. She has a computer and knows how to use it when many of her contemporaries don’t even know how to turn one on.

My mother isn’t perfect, but she was a good mom for me when I was growing up. I always knew that she loved me even when she made mistakes. I believe that as a parent she did the best she could with the tools at her disposal. I hope that my children will someday say the same about me.

Elizabeth Siggy

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  1. What a role model your mother is – and a trail blazer, it seems. A wonderful tribute.

    • Elizabeth /

      Thanks, Sharon. I think my mom is pretty cool, too!

  2. I lived in Jackson, MS in the early 80’s and remember hearing about the “W”. From today’s perspective, it’s hard to realize how different and radical your mom was. A good role model indeed!

    • Elizabeth /

      Until recently, I never really thought about how radical Mom was back in the day.

  3. Wow, she was definitely ahead of her time. How empowering and what a great role model!

    • Elizabeth /

      Mom has always embraced new things. I thought everybody was like that when I was young.

  4. I’m a HUGE fan of life-long learning–in fact, when I’m not learning new things, I get really cranky. Your mother sounds like a gem!

    • Elizabeth /

      Mom and I are like you–we get cranky if we’re not learning, too!

  5. I love hearing stories about strong independent women. My mum did a similar thing. She gave up her nurses training when she married but returned to complete it later on her life at the age of 40 years. Although it was tough for her five children she certainly inspired me to make something of myself.

    • Elizabeth /

      Isn’t it wonderful having an inspiring Mum? It’s not always easy, but certainly a blessing.

  6. Your mom is a fiber artist? That is super cool. She has such an expressive smile. What a vibrant gal.

    • Elizabeth /

      Mom is indeed a fiber artist. She spins, weaves, knits, and sews. She already knew how to sew, but she learned all of those other techniques after my brother and I were grown and gone!

  7. This is a lesson I would like to teach my own children.

  8. I love this lesson – my grandmother used to say that if you’re ever bored it’s your fault, because there’s so much to learn. Thank you (and your mother) for reminding me of that fact.

  9. Your mother was so right – you are never too old to learn. I did exactly the same thing she did. Went back to school once my kids were a little older. She sounds like a smart cookie and great mom.

    • Elizabeth /

      Good for you for going back to school when your kids got older!

  10. Helene Cohen Bludman /

    Good for your mom! You’re right, she was ahead of her time. What a great example she set.

  11. What a nice tribute to your mom and a reminder to all of us that we are never too old to learn.http://pattymackz.com/wordpress/?p=3002

  12. How inspiring!

  13. What wonderful sentiments! Kudos to your mom…she is a true life long learner!

  14. Moms are pros at putting their families needs/wants before their own, so it doesn’t surprise me your mom was also one who put her dreams off until she thought her kids were old enough. And KUDOS to her to bucking the trends of the day and going back to school!

  15. There is no better legacy than the example of being a lifelong learner!!! Great tribute to your mom!!

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