New Poem: What I Learned From My Mother

New Poem: What I Learned From My Mother

Poem what I Learned from my Mother

What I Learned From My Mother

I learned to love making things,
fashioning together bits of color,
scraps of texture,
juxtaposing hue
and contrasting
shape or line.

I learned that education
was of paramount importance,
worth sacrificing everything for.

I learned strong moral qualities
of honesty, kindness, integrity,
fairness, consideration,
dignity and loyalty.

I learned big picture thinking,
with a slap-dash attitude
toward pesky minor details.

I learned to celebrate life
with decorations and parties
and food, fireworks, and friends.

I learned to prepare
awesome cut out cookies
with brightly colored
buttercream frosting,
and that they
are always welcome
whatever the occasion.

I learned to honor
and be there
for those that are grieving.

I learned to be
unselfish to a fault,
because anything
short of that
was blameworthy
and corrected,
while contrariwise,
to stick up for myself
and obstinately be sure
that I got what I needed.

I learned not to be afraid
of being earnestly sincere,
even though it was sometimes
unpopular or misconstrued.

I learned being a girl
was neither a liability
nor a free ride,
and to champion
women’s rights.

I learned the value of
service and leadership,
of contribution and community.

I learned to love flowers,
especially homegrown ones,
and to enjoy arranging them,
whether armloads
of fragrant peonies
or humble bud vases
of snapdragons.

I learned I needed a career
and to earn money of my own.

I learned to respect
my creativity
and my willingness
to solve problems.

I learned to trust my own
views and perspectives,
and to take responsibility
for my actions.

I learned to express myself
and my whole range
of ideas and emotions,
unrepressed and unstifled.

I learned to reuse and recycle,
and not to waste or squander,
to save, and to repurpose,
and to have a full basement
of things that just might be
useful someday.

I learned to love
and support others
with expansive
homemade generosity,
to faithfully
send birthday gifts,
as well as go overboard
at Christmas.

I learned to leave something
better than I found it,
and to always try to improve.

I learned that the natural world
was marvelous
and needs our continual,
consecrated stewardship.

I learned that I needed
a modern marriage
where stereotypical roles
did not reign supreme.

I learned
I did not want
to be paranoid
and that I would always
want to choose
not to
wring my hands over things.

I learned to help my kids
follow their bliss
without projection or judgement,
to let them decide their own
college and career path,
and to treat them like adults
as soon as they were.

I learned to give
to my kids equally
but never uniformly,
accommodating and balancing
varying needs and desires.

I learned how to be a
steadfast sister,
an encouraging wife
and a magnanimous

I learned to appreciate beauty,
to people-watch and speculate,
to camp, and play, and hike,
and write, and paint,
and dance, and read
to enjoy lipstick and nail polish,
to scrapbook, and knit,
and listen to the radio.

I learned to take
my intuition seriously,
to emulate her
unflagging stamina,
to take initiative
instead of complaining,
and to analyze any situation
at length over the dinner table.

I learned to
clip recipes like her,
but to eat differently
than she did,
more adventurously
and more sustainably.

I learned it
really doesn’t matter
“what people think”,
especially since others are
most likely self absorbed
and not paying attention

I learned to
produce passionately,
perceive clearly,
love fiercely,
and defend good

I learned to be authentic
and to embrace my own
unique brand of originality,
as well as to applaud
those things in others.

I learned to cherish
home and motherhood
and have them at the
center of my affections.

I learned
how to foster
a can-do spirit.

I learned the enduring
importance of gratitude,
which I feel
flooded with today,
for the amazing gift
of this soul-filled
life coach.

I learned all this and more
from the best example
I could have had.
Thank you!

by Polly Castor
on Mother’s Day


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Debra Boyer 8 years ago

    Your poem and pictures are beautiful. May all these loving memories comfort you today.

  2. Linda Conner 8 years ago

    This is a work of art. And of love. Your choices of words fill the room. I giggled at some stanzas, others I wanted to frame. Bravo. A magnificent tribute to your mom, and to you.

  3. Liz 8 years ago

    Wonderful tribute to your mom. Some of the things she instilled in you my mom did too but I realize too that many I had to learn on my own, and beat my own drum. You have a way with words. A great gift. Thanks for sharing your mom and photos of her with us. You both have that tremendously beautiful smile! I can see where Laura gets her curly hair!

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