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From the ParentMap Staff: Our Words of Wisdom from Mom

Published on: April 28, 2012

Alayne Sulkin, with family in 1965Alayne Sulkin, Publisher/Editor

Photo: With family, 1965

Combining my mom’s three favorite and often repeated proverbs helped to define the culture of our home: “If at first you don’t succeed . . .” “You can lead a horse to water . . .” “If you can’t say something nice . . .”

Known as having a “hard drive” well before the PC, my mother led by exemplary behavior. She was tenacious, optimistic, willful and of the highest integrity.

I do not recall my mother ever speaking unkindly or harshly to people (other than to my father!). It feels like she built the inner core of who I am and it is these traits for which I honor her — and I hope to pass these same traits on to my own kids.

Seeing double? Alayne is pictured on the right; her twin sister, Andrea, is on the left.

Jen Betterley, with mom in 1985Jen Betterley, Web Editor

Photo: With mom, 1985

If my mother had a motto, it would be to always "be kind." This, of course, can be a hard rule to live by at times, but it's one that I aim to emulate each day and year as I grow wiser with experience (and I've been lucky to have a very good teacher!).

When I hear friends joking about "ending up like their mother," it always strikes me as odd, because I feel exactly the opposite! Rather than not being like her, I strive to be like her each and every day — and I continue to understand the importance of these two little words throughout life's bumps in the road. My mother might be a tough act to follow, but I'm trying — and I know that even that alone makes her extremely proud.

Elisa Taylor with her mother, 2009Elisa Taylor, Ad Traffic Manager

 Photo: With mom, 2009

I have always admired my mother for her unshakeable optimism and calm perseverance. She is the glue that holds our family together through difficult times.

Often in my life I have made a mantra of her words: “Everything will work out.” And it always does.

My mother has shown me by example the great gift of joy that kindness, loyalty and good humor give to the world. I have been stopped in the street by people who have asked me, “Are you Sharon’s daughter? You know, your mother is the nicest person I know.” I’m so proud of her and strive to be like her every day.

Linda Morgan, with mom in 2011Linda Morgan, Managing Editor

Photo: With mom, 2011

My mom empowered me by instilling in me the feeling that I could do anything well. When I was a young child, she helped me internalize the idea that I'd be a diligent student with comments like, "Look how well Linda concentrates on her homework!" This expanded to pretty much every endeavor I attempted: piano, dance, singing, writing, speaking. Never exaggerating to the point of coming off as extreme and insincere (I didn't hear "You're the best!" all that often), her encouragement translated as a decisive vote of confidence. I truly believe that's why, to this day, I'm not afraid to meet new challenges head-on — from painting and kayaking to TV appearances and presenting lectures — and generally approach them with self-assurance and tenacity. These are qualities I very intentionally tried to foster in my own two children.

Jo Gubas, with sister and mum in 1970Jo Gubas, Marketing Director

Photo: With sister and mum, 1970

The most important lessons that my mother has taught me over the years come more from her actions than her words. She has always lived by her values of kindness, compassion and focus on those in need. Growing up, Mum showed us the importance of empathy and generosity in her everyday contact with others.

Even during some really tough years juggling work, family and health problems, she was strong, positive and made time to support those around her. I'm so grateful that she's here to share her ways and her giving heart with her grandchildren.

Elisa Murray, with sisters and mom in 1975Elisa Murray, Out + About Editor

Photo: With sisters and mom, circa 1975

My mom never really gave my two sisters and me advice on how to run our lives — she felt we could figure it out for ourselves. She did, however, set an example of resiliency, independence and having the courage to reinvent oneself at any age.

Divorced at 32 with three young girls, she launched herself back in the work force, trying on several careers in the health/wellness field through her 30s and 40s before finally settling on massage therapy at age 50, long before it was a trendy career choice. Throughout it all, she always provided us with a stable, loving home, and a foundation of unconditional love for us that continues to bolster us today.

Anne Doss Hardy, with mom in 2004Anne Doss Hardy, Account Manager

Photo: With mom, 2004

So many conversations and lessons learned from my mom. I miss her so much. She passed away at 72, eight years ago. I miss talking with her so very much — and feel her presence in my life. When I was young, I heard this a lot: “Clean up as you go.” I found it tremendously irritating, because I was usually up to my elbows with some big, messy cooking experiment in the kitchen. And cleaning up was absolutely no fun at all. But when I became a mom and was working full time, I learned the wisdom of “clean up as you go” — being so busy and juggling so much, it is a gift to take care of things as they come up and not get totally buried by the “mess.”

My mom also used to caution me not to “overdo” — I would pile on the activities and social engagements — and she would question my schedule. Being the level-headed rebel that I was, I disregarded her advice and packed it in. Have to say, now in my 50s, I am much more selective about how I spend my time and with whom — and I take much better care of myself by saying "No, thank you!" once in awhile. I also remember her saying as I was heading out the door to a friend’s house or to college or to Japan to teach English — “Be a good egg.” I always liked this expression and I did consider myself a good egg — and took this in the most affectionate way. She cared about me deeply and I knew it.

During the last year of my mom’s life, I was spending most of the day with her, and we had very candid conversations — all the trappings melted away. When I would start bustling around to be useful, making her dinner, cleaning out a cupboard, folding laundry, she would eventually say,”Just come sit here and be with me.” And I would sit and we would be quiet or chat a bit — and it was lovely. To just be there for someone you love is more than enough. Yes, I have shared these lessons and this love with my three kids. I love you, Mom.


Emily Johnson, with mom in 1957Emily Johnson, Art Director

Photo: With mom, 1957

My mother is a gentle woman who believes that children should have plenty of space to explore and get dirty. She encouraged us (my brother, sister and me) to climb trees, dig in the dirt, ride our bikes through potholes, use our imaginations, explore our creative and artistic sides and be kind to all people.

I don’t think my mother is afraid of anything. Plus, she drinks a lot of milk.

Ida Wicklund, with mom in 2003Ida Wicklund, Account Manager

Photo: With mom, 2003

My mom was always a great listener and supporter of my thoughts and feelings. She encouraged me to own my feelings and then to let things go. I knew that there was someone that I could go to no matter what the situation, and things would all work out!


Kathy McDonald, with mom in 1973Kathy McDonald, Account Manager

Photo: With mom, 1973

Since I’ve become a parent, my mom has been a great teacher and has helped me put things in perspective. My grandmother passed down this advice to my mom who gave it to me: Don’t stress too much when the kids are young — be sure to have fun! “Little people, little problems.” The opposite of today’s helicopter parent, she was always around and very supportive, but never hovering. I’ve learned from my mom these lessons: Have fun, relax, and teach your kids to be self-reliant and independent.

Tara Buchan, with mother-in-law in 2008Tara Buchan, Accounting Assistant

Photo: With her mother-in-law, 2008

My mother-in-law (my mom passed away when I was young) has taught me how wonderful, lovely, easy and fun it is to turn everything into a song for your children. It matters not if you can carry a tune (I can’t!) or if your song makes sense to other adults (mine don’t!) but if you are truly trying to entertain your little loved ones, they will see that and enjoy in your silliness.

What a good lesson! That there are many ways to show your children that you care about their bliss and that they bring you happiness as well.

Lindsey Davis, with mom in 1986Lindsey Davis, Distribution + Admin.

Photo: With mom, 1986

When growing up, I wasn’t the prettiest girl in school and didn’t have the coolest clothes, but none of that mattered thanks to the encouragement of my mom.

She always told me my best quality was to be able to speak up when I felt mistreated and that I wasn’t afraid to say what was on my mind.

When it came time to stand up for myself because of a bad haircut or mismatched clothes, it was second nature.  My mom instilled it in me an instinct to be brave and to not take words to heart; "Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you" always comes to mind.  She even helped me cross-stitch those words onto a pillow!  So, through the years, with her guidance and assurance, I was able to avoid peer pressure when others couldn't and make my own decisions and opinions no matter what others were saying or doing.

Andrea Borell, with mom in 1982Andrea Borell, Account Manager

Photo: With mom, 1982

My mom inspired me to never cease capturing memories of my family. I walk through her house, each time gazing at our framed lives frozen in time, as if I’m in an art museum.

As a young mom of three, I noticed that my mom was never without her camera. As the years went on, her home filled more and more with the memories we created over the years.

Not just memories of the fun but also of those loved ones we've lost to their battles.  Now I can rarely be found without my camera freezing time for my own children.

Stephanie Lipp, with mom in 2000Stephanie Lipp, Sales Development

Photo: With mom, 2000

My mother instilled in me the importance of sharing a smile with others. She would always say, "When you share your smile, they almost always share it back!"

She seemed to have an understanding of how something so simple can make such a positive impact on just about anyone.

For me, it resonates with the "Pay it forward" concept.  Giving the simplest gift of a smile, or a small gesture of kindness impacts the lives of others on a grand scale and spreads a genuine type of joy.  It touches people on an unspoken but very personal level and can be an unexpected turning point in
their day.  Every morning now, when I drop my girls off at school, I remind them to share the gift of their beautiful smiles with everyone they see. I am blessed every time a teacher, parent, or friend shares with me what joy my daughters bring them just by smiling!

Patty Lindley, 1976Patty Lindley, General Manager

 Photo: Mom in 1956, Patty in 1976

When we were young, my brother and I were absolutely convinced my mother actually had eyes in the back of her head, as she would reaffirm every time she miraculously descended upon us when naughtiness was on the cusp of the action. Prescience for pranks was only the first of my mother's qualities I came to appreciate.

Many daughters grow up to hear, "Oh, you're just like your mother!" This, of course, can be a dreaded utterance for some.  While in demonstrable ways my mother and I are very much alike (and this seems to be more and more remarked upon as the years go by), in my case, I have grown up wishing I could be more like my mother, in so many, many ways.

My mother has spent her entire life in unstinting service to others — her family, her friends, her community, the patients and people she cheerfully and competently helped for decades as a nurse, caregiver, and volunteer.

In her own life, my mother is a marvel of hard work and efficiency and a home economist extraordinaire — a brilliant cook and baker, she put by all of our canned food and preserves, and along with my father kept the family larder stocked with a bounty of fresh garden produce, fish (it's true, I will never willingly eat trout again in my life — sorry, Mom!), and game. Not even five feet tall, my mother constitutionally is one of the strongest women I know — I have vivid memories of her butchering enormous elk on our kitchen table! (It's a Colorado story, my upbringing.) Though my family was materially more than comfortable, my parents were models of self-sufficiency and unalloyed resilience — they provided an extremely healthy and active, engaged life for us that in any century would win a sustainability award.

Unfailingly kind, fun-loving, and funny as all get-out, my mother truly lives by the adage "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." She has always been unselfconsciously giving of herself and her time to help others and make a difference.Patty Lindley's mother, 1956 I commiserate with my friends all the time about the balancing act of being a working mother, and I honestly can't understand how my mother did it all! I'll never know where she found those unending reserves of energy and effort and enthusiasm to work full-time, manage our household so well, and still somehow have time to be a Girl Scout leader, Meals on Wheels stalwart, election volunteer, school and museum volunteer, and tireless booster of her children's pursuits (and she was equally proud and supportive of my brother's sporting endeavors as she was of her bookworm daughter's academic achievements).  Being reliable and possessing an enviable spirit of openness and ceaseless curiosity, my Mom has ever been the can-do queen of my hometown, a friend to all. 

When I think about my parents, one of the most enduring gifts they imparted to me and my brother was the example of how they lived with such integrity, purpose, and compassion (the latter quality being a particular signature of my mother's character): We learned, quite simply, to take care of ourselves, to get on with things without "bellyaching," and to always make an effort to help other people who can't do for themselves easily, for whatever reason. I fear I am in many ways a rather faint rubber stamp of my mother, but honor every day what an extraordinary person she is and all she did to make me the person I am. 

And I still think she has eyes in the back of her head.

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