Revisiting the classic heart-tugging ballad of the Spice Girls, we ask some of our friends about the lessons they learned from their mothers. You know, the ones that were met with eye rolls and teenage angst.
In life, we will go through many relationships, informing and inspiring us along the way. Where certain connections are only meant to fit in the puzzle of your life at a certain time, there are those that endure for a lifetime. While the circumstances of each relationship vary from person to person, it can be said that nothing will ever close to that between a mother and her child. An association of blood and bond, this is a love that is not only unique, but also far from perfect, naturally. The trajectory of this relationship is perfectly condensed in the classic Spice Girls 1997 hit, Mama.
A softer, heart-tugging ballad wedged in their debut album chock full of saccharine pop ditties of the upbeat and mid-tempo sort, Mama essayed it as a conversation between friends, recalling the relationships with their mothers and the difficulties that came with it especially during the onset of adolescence. “I didn’t want to hear it then, but I’m not ashamed to say it now / Every little thing you said and did was right for me,” the song goes, detailing emotional and revealing points that are both touching, evocative, and incredibly relatable.
No matter where the relationship between you and your mom stands, the anthemic Mama by the Spice Girls remains to be lyrical homage to our heroes, the most loving paragons of selflessness and strength. Persisting in sentiment to this very day, it’s the honesty on the challenges, as well as of the lessons learned from our mothers will move you to tears.
Lessons Learned From Mothers, The Hard Way
“Back then, I didn’t know why / Why you were misunderstood,” it continues, compelling you into an introspection of your own. “So now, I see through your eyes / All that you did was love.” By now, you are taken over by every high of highs, low of lows, and even the uncomfortable and feelings-driven silences in between. A constant push and pull, as is requisite of any relationship, we begin to realize further along our lives how our mothers were right all along.
With lessons drilled into our subconscious, reminders peppered in daily dialogues, and the uninformed perception of them antagonizing your life, finger wagging and all, we have at some point chosen to let all those dictate the way we felt about our mothers, whether we like to admit it or not. Despite this, at the end of the day, no matter what, they will be there. The Spice Girls say it best: “Every other day we cross the line / I didn’t mean to be so bad / I never thought you would become a friend I never had.”
This is clearly not the proudest moment for any child who is understandably navigating the hormones and hubris of the formative years, but it is also the lessons learned eventually that fosters and nurtures the relationship we have with our mothers. In hindsight, we realize that all those eye-rolls and talking back may have been uncalled for, but we were both growing. Now, we know better.
They Know Best
Even if we begin the process of unlearning the wrongs and bettering the bond, it still is painful to acknowledge the ignorance developed towards the woman who wants nothing but love and the best from her children. However, it is through this necessary pain, life lived, and lessons learned that we ultimately begin the best relationship with our mothers. Open yourself up to making things better, because really, she deserves nothing less.
Mothers know best, always. This confronts us every now and then, more so when mother’s day rolls around and we reminisce our own histories with the woman who continues to give us life no matter how old we get. With a misplaced sense of confidence and an eagerness to be in control of our own destinies, we may feel like we know better. But when life plays out in its typically unexpected ways, we relent to the truth that there comes a time when we really know nothing. Sure, even with all the love and lessons, some mothers will tease and taunt with an “I told you so,” but in the swing of “loving you” and “loving me,” they are only coming from a place of love that’s true and guaranteed.
Cue the nostalgic montage and all together let’s sing: “Mama, I love you, Mama, I care / Mama, I love you, Mama, my friend.” No, really, hug your mother and tell tell them how much you love them.
In celebration of mother’s day, we asked some of our friends what is that one lesson they used to ignore from their moms that they now hold near and dear their hearts. No, mom, there will be no eye-rolling and talking back here. You were right all along.
My mother taught me to love unconditionally, even if it hurts. Growing up I saw her balance everything she did and more, while loving my father with all that she had left. Loving someone is hard, and through her I knew that even if it is hard, you must never give up. That love transcends through the household, and it is passed on to generations.
Don’t rub your skin! When you’re a teenager, you don’t really understand this, but now that I’m in my 30s, I totally get it.
One thing I had to learn the hard way that my mom used to tell me was “never sell yourself short.” When I was starting as a freelance creative, I feel that I was giving way more than what I was getting, but as I’ve grown older, I learned to fight for what I know I deserve as taught by my Momma. Another nugget of wisdom was also to never compromise your vision. I feel like listening to that has definitely paid off!
“You should be equally as fearful as you are excited, or it’s not worth it.”
Omg this is a hard one. But probably that “a nice person and a kind person are two different things.”
When I was younger she’d tell me to be honest and true to myself. I didn’t get it that much back then, but now that I’m older—a bit wiser, I now understand how much power this has given me. And she is a real one too, a perfect example of the word she preaches.
It’s simple, but very practical. If I were to choose one thing that my mom told me that really stuck with me was: “You have to be a light for yourself first, before you become one to others.”
When I was a kid, my mom would always demand that I take a nap in the afternoon. I hated it because I always wanted to play and watch TV In this time of the pandemic, I realize the value in it. Working from home, I savor every moment I get to rest. Being able to take a nap is considered a luxury these days—one that is worth getting our hands into because we self-care is something that we all deserve.
For me, it would have to be, don’t rush growing up! At 27, there’s still lots of time to “grow up,” but there are many moments of my teenage-hood and early 20’s I wish I maximized!
My mom would always say some iteration of “this too shall pass” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” It would always annoy me because I always soaked in the dramatics. But as I got older, I’ve realized that I take things way too seriously. People’s attention spans are so short that the thing I’ve been stressing over because I thought was so embarrassing or life-ruining, they have already forgotten about it or they’ve already moved on. I’ve learned to get over things much quicker. Life’s too short to be crying over spilled milk.
She always told me that half the things I worry about don’t even happen. Everything just works out. Everything falls into place. The dust always settles.
When I’m alone and there’s no voice in my head but mine, whether it be about acting on impulse amdist emotional climaxes or academic and creative decisions, my mom’s voice would always stick out as if reminding me, “Always ask yourself if you’ll feel right about it in the morning.”
My Mama Irene Habijan says: “Dream big and believe that, in God’s time, they will come true. Because they do.”
Early on my mother encouraged me to invest in learning new things. She’d have second thoughts when I would ask for 50 for some snacks and trinkets, but would not bat an eyelash if it were enrolling in ballet classes, enlisting in review centers, or applying for internships that didn’t offer full scholarship or a stipend. This was something I always accepted as given and took for granted. Only now when I am starting to reap the fruits of my mom’s labor (pun intended) that I fully appreciated the limitless potential of a mother’s love, and who among the two of us truly knows best. My mama also told me when I was young, we are all born superstars. Char.