The art of mothering

mother and me

Jeanne and Rachel, Ink on Mulberry Paper, 1973, Tony Hedrick

The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.
– Elain Heffner

The above drawing was created by my father and depicts my mother and me, when I was approx. 5 years old. I’m grateful to have this original piece framed and hanging in my bedroom.

I wrote the following piece in honor of my mom’s 60th Birthday. I’m posting it here, several years later, to say Happy Mother’s Day.

Mom, you may be far away traveling right now, but you are never far from my heart.



Mom, here are some invaluable things you’ve taught me about living:


  • If you’re cold, you should put your hands between your knees.
  • Always put on lipstick before you go into the shopping mall. You never know who you might run into.
  • You will feel better if you take a walk every day. Even if the wind is blowing and it gets on your nerves.
  • Knee socks look good with jean skirts if you have thin legs.
  • If you’re crabby, you might need to eat something. Preferably, something with protein in it.
  • It’s important to balance your checkbook every month and to know what you are spending your money on.
  • Typos are not ok. Stores named “Kleen Sweep” need to go buy some paint and get busy.
  • Having dirty or flat hair is a crushing blow to any day, even if you are camping.
  • Always use moisturizer on your hands so that you can offer a soft, cool touch to a feverish forehead.
  • Being hospitable and creating a warm atmosphere in a home is an underappreciated talent. But it means the world to people.
  • Being able to communicate in writing opens doors, especially if you can do it well.
  • A good meal paves the way to closer relationships.
  • It’s good to have a barrette and socks that match your sweater.
  • If you are going to go on TV, it is important to have a special smile prepared for that purpose.
  • If you are going out for the day, always pack a well-balanced lunch. If possible, include a few chips, a tuna sandwich and a chocolate chip square in it.
  • You will feel better if you have a nap every day. Even 20 minutes of quiet time can give the restoration you need to get through the rest of the day.
  • Sometimes it’s just plain better to have a dishwasher than to have an ocean view.
  • Say “I love you” many times a day.
  • If you love someone, it’s ok to call them silly names like “baby boo,” “lover,” or “monkey face pretty boy sweetness.”


  • Constancy and reliability mean a lot to children.
  • My mom may appear unassuming, but she is not to be pushed too far. (Just ask one of her kids!)
  • Fulfill your responsibilities. Keep your promises.
  • Always do your best work.
  • Think before you speak. Kindness can soothe a world of wounds.
  • It’s a good idea to push the envelope a little bit and be spontaneous sometimes. (Go ahead, have that extra bowl of popcorn! Stay up an hour late!)
  • Going along with one of your husband’s crazy schemes when he least expects it keeps the romance in your marriage. Putting him in the doghouse temporarily and then flirting with him does the same thing.
  • Get tough when you need to stand up for what is right, or defend someone who is helpless. At those times, be immovable.
  • Giggling when someone falls down or bangs into something isn’t a sign of a lack of compassion.
  • It really is ok to ask for help.
  • What you give in life comes back to you ten-fold.


  • It’s perfectly acceptable to pray with somebody over the phone.
  • The Bible read aloud over inspirational music is one of the most comforting things in the world.
  • No matter how low I might feel, I know that things will improve soon, because my mother is somewhere praying for me. God really pays attention when my mother prays.
  • Psychology and faith are not mutually exclusive.
  • Contributions which are “behind the scenes” are just as important in God’s eyes as those which are high-profile.
  • A successful home makes room for family meals, prayer, humor and sharing stories.
  • Fostering your faith and caring for those you love are the two most important things in life.

Dear mom:

I recall a gentle voice and hand in a hospital room, a lovely smell as I walked in the door at home, a pile of fresh laundry folded neatly on my bed, hand-written letters and care packages, proud and affirming looks for my accomplishments, and conversations which make the hours fly by.

I love you. 

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4 Responses to The art of mothering

  1. Tony Hedrick May 8, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    You’ve run out of descriptions and adjectives. What will you say on father’s day? Beautiful, Rachel. You are multi-gifted and a blessing to everyone around you.

  2. Tina May 8, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Beautiful, Rachel! You are indeed blessed.

  3. bud May 8, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    You describe your mother as only a daughter could,great job bud

  4. melissa May 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    what a beautiful list. i love it…makes me smile, laugh and cry. i hope you had a wonderful mother’s day!

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