When we’re young with our minds set on paving our own road in life, the last thing we as women want to hear is, "You’re just like your mother."
When you’re in the midst of defining your own identity, hearing someone proclaim that you’re a carbon copy of the very woman you’re trying to wrestle your independence from can feel like a slap in the face.
Yet once we’re firmly settled into adulthood, we’re more willing to accept mom’s influence on shaping who we are.
If hindsight is 20/20, then retrospection provides an even clearer view.
Each of life’s moments squeezed between the cradle and grave bear mom’s influence. No matter how we resist at first, all of our life experiences — even those involving mom — have a way of molding us into the women we are today.
Here are the stories of five local women, told in their own words, and how their mothers’ influence helped guide them on a path toward success.
Truelove Dairy Inc. vice president, daughter of Tommie Reynolds Truelove
"Every summer we had a garden that we would always have to work. There were vegetables and fruit that we would can or freeze or make into jelly. It seemed that it would be much easier to just go buy it, but all of that effort tasted so much better. We still put corn in the freezer and try to make some jelly during the summer.
"My mom also made biscuits for every meal except holidays when we would have brown and serve rolls. I could not wait for Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas so I could have store-bought rolls!
"After college, my mother became one of my closest friends. I miss having a conversation with her every day.
"Our mother was one who multitasked long before that was a word! She cooked three meals a day for her family and her house was always spotless. She was the bookkeeper for the farm and she would drive a hay truck if needed. Mom was always active in her community — in our church, the PTA, the Farm Bureau organization and she raised four children. She showed me and my siblings that it was important to get up early, work hard and accomplish much."
daughter of Betty Simmons and Brenau University Dean of Student Success & Retention
"My mother was determined to send me to an all girls, Catholic high school, Regina High. Of course, I wanted to be with the boys and desired attendance at the coed private school, Central Catholic in Cleveland, OH. I never thought I would say this, but I am so glad that my mom insisted that I attend a single-gender high school. The experience I gained there was second to none. Regina’s theme when I was a student there was ‘Learn, Serve, Lead.’ Concepts that I learned there followed me throughout my college career and even in my current professional life.
"I have always appreciated my mom, but it took some time to appreciate and understand her advice. Her favorite topics to which she likes to unleash her infinite wisdom are: life, love, spirituality and finances.
I must say, she is always right. Over the years, I have found my mom to be bold, sassy, smart and resourceful.
"My mother recognized my gift for public speaking very early. As a child, I was very self-conscious to speak in front of people because of my weight. I was such a chubby little kid. She never accepted excuses and demanded that I speak, pray and testify about the goodness of the Lord in church. I am forever grateful to my mother for recognizing a gift that I tried to ignore.
"In my position at Brenau, oftentimes I must speak in front of crowds. Since I have been a member of St. John Baptist Church (in Gainesville), there have been countless times where I have been asked to pray, speak or serve as mistress of ceremony for an event. Public speaking is now my passion! I told you, my mom is always right!"
United Way of Hall County president, daughter of Thelma Laney
"As a typical teenager there were so many times when I didn’t understand why my mom didn’t ‘get me,’ but like most of us it took me becoming an adult to truly appreciate the sacrifices both she and my dad made for my brother and me. Although my mom worked outside the home, when she was home we were the center of attention. We used to play board games at night after supper as a family. One of my favorite memories of childhood is watching ‘Bonanza’ as a family on Sunday nights.
"Growing up in a rural area, we knew everyone that lived around us and our small country church was the center of our social life. My parents served as the volunteer youth leaders of our church and our house was where all the kids congregated. Every summer, she would take a group of 20 to 25 of us to Six Flags or Stone Mountain. Mom always welcomed a house full of teenagers and as I look back, those were wonderful days. One Sunday afternoon, she broke her foot playing football with us but still managed to put out Kool-Aid and cookies for us before going to the emergency room.
"Mom instilled in me a strong work ethic and I know that contributed to me becoming the person I am today. Her way of giving advice was to live the kind of life that demonstrated kindness and compassion. My mom loves animals and we always had pets. Her love extended to humans as well and she taught me the importance of caring about other people. I know that has made an impact in my work with United Way and me as a person.
"As I grew into adulthood, I realized that not every child was blessed with a mother like mine. I don’t know why I was so fortunate to be chosen the daughter of Thelma Laney but I’m thankful every day and do my very best to be someone she is proud of."
Lanier Charter Career Academy principal, daughter of Glenna Holmes Swank
"I remember being in high school and college and struggling with the, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up’ question. I repeatedly asked my mother for her guidance and she’d respond in similar ways: ‘You can do anything you want to do,’ and ‘just do your best at whatever you choose.’
"Those comments used to frustrate me incredibly, as I knew my mother was just being a mother, believing that her children COULD do anything. I certainly didn’t feel very confident. Over the years of hearing her same encouragement, I began viewing my varied interests as being an asset, not simply a sign of indecisiveness or lack of a spiritual calling for my life.
"Through the support of one of my high school teachers and later a minister in college, I began hearing similar encouragement that was given by my mother, just worded in a different way. From Psalms 37:4: ‘Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’ I soon became thankful for the encouragement my mother provided and became confident that God would equip me if I committed to follow His will for my life.
"My mother was an elementary school teacher in rural West Virginia. During the summer months, she worked with Head Start and did home visits as part of her work. I remember going with her on several of these visits and vividly remember going to one of the poorest families I’d ever seen. The home was dilapidated, the front yard was really just part of the dirt road leading to their home and the children were poorly clothed and dirty.
"When it was clear that the students’ mother was embarrassed to have the teacher at their home, my mother warmly and graciously said, ‘It’s such a pretty day. Why don’t we just sit here on the porch.’ I was so proud of my mother for her ability to take an awkward situation and create a comfortable visit for that family.
"On the drive home, I remember commenting on the poverty I’d just seen, but my mother quickly reminded me that they were still a family, just like my own. The sensitivity and nonjudgmental attitude that characterized my mother became traits I wanted to nurture in my own life."
Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center director, daughter of Jane Lewis
"While other parents allowed their children a brief reprieve to sleep in on the weekends, my mother made my four siblings and I wake up at the crack of dawn to work in the garden or complete other chores.
"She’d tell us that if she had to work, everybody had to work. I thought the woman was out of her mind, but since I didn’t want to miss ‘American Bandstand’ or ‘Soul Train,’ I learned to work fast. The lesson I learned from her in that situation was to always handle the difficult tasks first. Then you can play.
"Any time I feel hurt, wounded or betrayed I think of my mother. Her sentiment was that if you were going through hell, keep moving. My mother taught me that I was the sole creator of my experience in this world. If I didn’t like my experience, I had better create something new."
Sooner or later, many women come to the same conclusion as Wallace, "Now I think the greatest compliment someone can give me is to say. ‘You’re just like your mother!’"
How could you not want to be like the woman dispensing sage advice like Simmons-Walston’s mom, who is quick to say: "Pray about it and forget get about it. If you gone keep worryin,’ don’t waste your time prayin,"
Although Mother’s Day is typically the day we choose to show our mom how much we appreciate her by showering her with presents, to a certain extent being the daughter she raised is probably gift enough.
But flowers and a card wouldn’t hurt, either.