I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers lately. Last week was a whirlwind of sadness and celebration, as the sudden death of one of my good friends’s mother fell within days of my own mom’s birthday. I cried, I laughed, I talked to my mom for hours on the phone. It’s times like this that remind me how much she means to me, how much a mother can mean in general. During this era of pseudo-adulthood I find myself in at college, I realize more and more every day how much she has prepared me for whatever life might throw in my way. Sure, it might not be easy to get through, but if there’s anything I’ve taken to heart from her, it’s that I’ll get through eventually. I love her more than any other person ever to walk this earth ― here are some things that I have learned from her that I think about every single day. Thanks, mom.

There is beauty in literally everything around you.

My friends would vouch that I have taken this to heart, that I’m one sappy girl when it comes to anything beautiful. I cry at everything: sad things, happy things, beautiful things, funny things. I think the key to really capturing happiness in your life is to understand this fact. It’s not something my mom has ever said verbatim to me, but I’ve learned from watching her that there is a kernel of joy hidden inside everything we see on the day to day. When it snows and looks like powdered sugar falling in the night here, I think of my mom ― she has literally yelled at my siblings and I to “LOOK AT BEAUTY!” on a regular basis for most of my life. Sunsets, flowers, fields on the way to our cottage up north, it’s all beautiful to her. Through this, she taught me how to find that kernel of beauty even in the darker times we all go through: There’s always something waiting to surprise you.

Tell the people you love that you love them.

This one is pretty obvious to me, but I realize now how important it truly is. I tell my friends I love them constantly, almost to an annoying extent. That’s something I’ve learned from my mother. In her opinion, if you feel it, why wouldn’t you share that with someone? Knowing the amount of love in my life, all I can do is share it with those around me. It’s three words, a short declaration that can make all the difference to whoever it’s said to. The fear of awkwardness or rejection is much less daunting when you understand that an immediate response doesn’t really matter in the long run ― instead, it’s the thought behind it that stays with those involved.

Don’t be afraid to say what you feel.

If there’s anything that this week taught me, it’s that things can change quicker than you think is humanly possible. That’s something my mom has always embraced, telling my siblings and I everything she feels for us at any given moment. She calls us “chickens,” which I’ve always found hilarious. Sometimes I’ll be sitting at home and hear her through the wall: “I’m so glad you’re home, chickens!” It’s kind of a drastic example, but those expressions of love and happiness have rubbed off on me. What’s the use of keeping something great or important inside your head? Everything’s better when people are on the same page. Don’t hide from yourself by hiding your thoughts from those who are lucky enough to hear them. It doesn’t need to be dire, maybe just a reminder that you care, or that you saw something funny on the way to work. If something makes you happy or sad or possesses you to share it at all, you never know how much it can brighten another person’s day.

The best skill a person can have is the ability to laugh at life.

My mother is one of the funniest people I know, and it’s not just because she has a wicked wit ― she really knows how to laugh at life, whether it’s good, bad, or even somewhere in between. At its base elements, life is hilarious. Understanding that can make any moment full of dread or sadness just that little bit better so it’s easier to handle. I have a considerably darker sense of humor than she does, but I think a lot of it came from this lesson that she has taught me. It’s a lot less difficult to get through hard times when you can find the humor in your situation, or even in yourself. In my opinion, this is the most important thing I’ve learned from my mom. Being a person in this crazy world is hard, you might as well be able to see how ridiculous it is. We’re all just here trying to have a good life, but the thing that binds us is how insane the path may seem to get there. Laugh a little more, and I promise it will make that journey a smoother one. It might even rub off on your own children one day.

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