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The day before Thanksgiving, I arrived at my parents’ house ready to help my mom and sister prep for our feast.
But that’s not exactly what happened.
Due to a health scare, my mom spent the day at our local hospital and my sister and I, who had never cooked Thanksgiving dinner without her, were forced to do just that.
There was a moment when I seriously considered ordering Chinese food and calling it a day. But then I remembered all the years my mom had said, in passing, that we really needed to learn how to cook these special dishes and keep the traditions going because one day she wouldn’t be here to do it.
This was the first year those words really struck my heart.
Luckily, because my mother is my mother and always just knows, she had spent the weekend prior writing down every single Thanksgiving recipe so my siblings and I would have it saved. Every single one, from the turkey to the Brussels sprouts to her famous (in our family, at least) sweet potatoes. And for a woman who’s been cooking since she was a child and who barely measures anything, this was an admirable task.
It was strange standing in the kitchen without her, chopping ingredients and doing our best not to screw things up, but thankfully, because (again) my mother is my mother, she called and texted at least 200 times that day to share tips she’d forgotten to write down and make sure we weren’t forgetting anything. It was the next best thing to having her there.
I could write a book with all the wisdom this woman has passed down over the years. All the advice that I didn’t want to hear when I was growing up and all the lessons she used to tell me I wouldn’t understand until I was older, like “Dime con quién andas, y te dire quién eres,” which translates to, “Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.” It was her way of encouraging me to choose my friends wisely and recognize bad influences early—but what 13-year-old wants to hear that?
But as I’ve gotten older and watched my sisters become moms, and started seriously planning for the day I become one, I realize the value in all the guidance my parents would share. How their words have shaped my life, and how I hope to one day pass these same lessons down to my own children, who probably also won’t understand until they’re older.
I recently asked our readers, “What’s one thing your parents used to always say you’d ‘understand when you get older’ that you finally understand?” May their responses be of benefit:
1. “Because I was so naughty, my mom used to tell me wait until you become a mother, then you’ll understand. She was right…” ~ Eugénie
2. “Don’t believe anything you hear, nothing you read, and only half of what you see. Great advice.” ~ Dan
3. “That even though you have a decently paying job, there really is still little to no money after bills are paid!” ~ Milena
4. “Sleep, how that’s all you crave when you are older.” ~ Sarah
5. “Take very good care of your teeth.” ~ Anthony
6. “Why my parents parented each of us kids differently. It didn’t seem fair at the time, but now I’m so grateful they saw each of us as individuals and parented each of us in the most appropriate ways for each of our individual emotional needs/personalities/tendencies/etc.” ~ Michele
7. “You only have five or less real good friends in your life. I was refusing that one so bad…now I have to say even 5 is a huge number.” ~ MaGalie
8. “How important forgiveness is for your own peace and well-being.” ~ Brad
9. “My Dad told me a few times that it takes just as long to walk out of the woods as it takes to walk in…” ~ Kellyn
10. “Stop touching the thermostat!” ~ Autumn
11. “‘One day you will see you have more than enough…’ I learned forms of serving others and giving to those in need; I finally understand my parents undying charisma for humanity.” ~ Rebekah
12. “How many forms you have to fill out for kids. So. Many. Forms.” ~ Amy
13. “We’ve got food at home to eat.” ~ Michael
14. “My dad told me to stop being addicted to an emotion. And that the truth will always come out and you’ll never have to defend yourself.” ~ Candice
15. “Being sick doesn’t always look like a cold. Stress and exhaustion count.” ~ Lisa
16. “That ‘young people music’ at high volume grates on one’s nerves.” ~ James
17. “Not everyone is your friend…be kind but be wise.” ~ Michele
18. “You will miss me when I’m gone.” ~ Nancy
19. “Why a marriage between Freddie Mercury and I wouldn’t work out!” ~ Paula
20. “Do your todays for your tomorrows.” ~ Polly
21. “You really do have to wring out the kitchen cloth after using it or else it gets yucky.” ~ Alison
22. “Turn the lights out…we don’t live in a hotel.” ~ Tara
23. “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no, from my Father Dear.” ~ ZaNetta
24. “Don’t ever mistreat those less fortunate than you. Always consider the feelings of others. Treat all people with respect. I listened. Thanks Mom. I would have passed this on, if I’d had the opportunity.” ~ Christine
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