Sometimes when I am chatting to my kids I stop and listen to myself and hear my Mum. Comments, expressions, even the way I laugh. Things that I'm sure I vowed never to say, somehow creep into conversations. How did that happen?
By losing my mum quite suddenly, I think the biggest thing she taught me was to never take it for granted that someone will be there. When bringing up my children I often found myself wondering what advice she would give me when I found myself in a situation where I didn't know which way to turn. So it's not easy to say which is the biggest lesson she taught me. She had so many pearls of wisdom, even though they weren't always what I thought I wanted to hear!
She was from a generation where women gave up their jobs when they had children and their job was housekeeper and full time mum. She would always do the housework in the morning, then without fail, she would get changed, do her hair and put on a bit of lipstick. Her mantra was 'always look your best'. I try to remember that but I guarantee that on the days I don't, the days when I don't feel 100% and pop round to the supermarket in my jogging bottoms and fleece, with my hair needing a bit of a wash and face totally devoid of even a swipe of mascara - they're the times I'll bump into a friend. Usually the kind of person who always looks immaculate, one I haven't seen for a while and one who leaves me wanting to say 'I don't always look like this - you've caught me on a bad day!'.
I probably adapt this advice in other ways too. Not just 'looking your best' but trying your best, and trying to find the best in a bad situation. It can be a tough lesson to put into practice but if you can do it, it does help to have a positive attitude.