5 Things My Mom Taught Me

Today marks my mom’s 60th birthday.  She’ll probably want to kill me for telling you that, but I think of anyone, she has come into this period in her life with grace, beauty, and wisdom.

She’s on her way to a much deserved break in Las Vegas, and I’m sitting in my office waiting for our forecasted snow to start falling, and thinking about all the things she’s taught me.  Those of us lucky enough to have a mom like her have that person in their life who has been there through every peak and valley, who has reassured when she needed to and delivered tough love when she maybe didn’t want to. My mom has held my hand through a difficult marriage, divorce, raising a child with special needs, and one particularly nasty bout of H1N1.



1) It is never too late to chase your dreams.

This one is an entire blog post  that I’ve already written, but the message came loud and clear from my mom. In her 30s, she went back to university and got her BA and MA, so she could do the work she really loves – working as a marriage and family therapist is what lights her up, is a dream that she wanted for her life. She has been doing that work ever since then, even though in the beginning it seemed nearly unattainable.

2) Home is wherever you make it.

We moved a lot. My mom was a single mom and the job market was tight when she graduated. We went where the jobs were, and my mom, brother and I lived in a variety of small spaces – one bedroom apartments, studios, basement suites, with family. Yet my sense of home was always wherever my mom and brother and I were. It was in those spaces that she created home for us, without question, and however she could. I learned how little stuff mattered, and how to choose just a small selection of things I really, really loved.

3) The greatest gift we give our children is independence.

This one is probably one of the biggest lessons she gave me, and one I use all the time. At 16, I dropped out of high school, after several years of struggling. And my mom didn’t do anything but allow for me to do it. She gave me rules surrounding not going to school, and then let me learn on my own how challenging life could be without a high school diploma. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to do that, to step back and watch her child stumble and fall, and to know that it was in the falling that the lessons would be discovered. It is perhaps the thing I am the most grateful for, her ability to let me go.

4) You are strong enough.

Period. Doesn’t matter what it is, you can do it. Sometimes you have to do it. It was my mom’s strength in leaving my dad when she was pregnant with my brother that I drew on during the challenging days after my own marriage ended. It was about being strong enough to know I’d be okay. It was about remembering a childhood filled with wonder and knowing now, as an adult, that my mom struggled on a daily basis to make ends meet. That my kids would have that same memory, as long as I strove to make it so, and didn’t stay in that unhappy place I was in.

5) Cake from the grocery store is the best cake.

You know what I’m talking about. The Crisco based white icing that’s still gritty from the sugar, and the custard middle layer. The blue roses that stain your teeth, and the sorta dry crumby cake. Best. Cake. Ever.

Happy birthday, Mom! 

Stephanie Ostermann

I’m the sort of girl who you meet for coffee and end up pouring your entire heart out to. The friend you come to when you need someone to call it straight. No bullshit. No extras. Just truth.

I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.

When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.

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