I had the unique experience of growing up with two women who loved me as their daughter - the Mother who gave birth to me and the Mom who raised me. You can read the full story here of how that came to be. It's important back-story to understanding the valuable lessons I learned from each of them.
The most important lesson my Mom taught me was to be self-sufficient and never need to rely on a man for my support and well-being. The lesson came directly from her own life, but I grew up knowing that it was important for me to do well in school, that it was important to have a vocation - a skill or career by which I could support myself. It was a lesson that earned me a full scholarship to one of the top colleges in the country, gave me the education I needed to succeed, and taught me the value of hard work. I think it still plays out in my life in many ways today. In how I approach challenges, obstacles, difficulties. The one flaw in that lesson is that the goal of gainful employment was never tempered with any kind of advice to do something that you actually enjoy. So I ended up with a career that pays the bills but provides minimal personal fulfillment. I've had to learn on my own how to convert that scenario into a happy life. No worries - I think I have it figured out! :)
The most important lesson my Mother taught me was to live for today - to be present in the moment, to stop and smell the flowers, to not always be focusing so hard on the future. I'm sure she didn't think I was listening! But I did get the message. I understand that this moment is the only one I know I have for sure, that I should live it to the fullest and actually attempt to enjoy it. It isn't quite in my temperament to live with a devil-may-care attitude, so I temper the enjoying of the moment with also planning for the future so that I'm prepared for all the other moments that I may be gifted with down the road.
Do you see it? The yin/yang, two sides of the coin lessons that I learned from my mothers? It took me awhile, but I do now. Thanks Moms.