5 Life Lessons from a Mom to Her Adult Sons

5 Life Lessons from a Mom to Her Adult Sons

Reflections on Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day. While the celebration of motherhood is noble, the day evokes a wide range of emotions for many. For some, the day is joyful, as new memories are created and old memories are shared. For others, there is sadness. A dear friend of mine is experiencing her first Mother’s Day after the passing of her sweet daughter last May. As we cried and prayed together last week with a group of friends, we all wept at the thought of being without one of our children.

My first son was born when I was 28; my second son when I was 31. While a grown-up on the outside, on the inside, I was still quite immature. Like all young parents, I floundered at times as I learned on the job. Most days seemed to be about surviving: getting everyone fed and off to school, completing homework, driving to activities, gathering for a family meal, albeit infrequently, all while juggling a demanding career and trying to grow in my marriage. The emotional bandwidth to thoughtfully shape the character of my sons through everyday teachable moments was limited.


Mother's Day 2008. I need a new photo!

Mother’s Day 2008. I need a new photo!

In the past couple of years, God has been significantly molding and shaping my heart. Here I am in my mid-fifties, finally grasping some important life lessons that would have made me a better mother. It makes me wish I could have a do-over of my child-raising years. I would be far more intentional.

I try to give myself a bit of grace. I did the best I could. I made mistakes. Who doesn’t?

I wish I had been more purposeful, as well as more responsive and less reactive. What tugs at my heart is the feeling that I missed the chance to teach my children some important truths.

They say more is “caught” than “taught.” I am striving to lead a life that models five essential life lessons that I hope my adult sons will “catch” as they mature in their journey of life.

Life Lesson #1: Suffering is essential.

Character is shaped through the pain and challenges of life. Buried in most trials are powerful lessons. Empathy can only be cultivated through suffering. I deeply believe that God is GOOD. In my own life, I trust that the painful experiences I endure will ultimately be woven into God’s good and glorious tapestry, even if, on this side of heaven, I can only see threads.

Learning to suffer well is a powerful skill that will carry you through life when bad things happen…and bad things happen to everyone.

Life Lesson #2: Character is foundational.

In his recent New York Times post “The Moral Bucket List,” author and columnist David Brooks differentiates between résumé virtues and eulogy virtues. In our social-media plagued society, life is too often expressed externally. Virtues that are cultivated merely to impress and advance are not actually virtuous. Rather, true character is chiseled internally, quietly. Virtues that deepen and strengthen character are earned in the sacred bedrock of the soul.

Character creates the foundation upon which you can build a successful life that will endure the suffering you experience.

Life Lesson #3: Purpose is indispensable.

Oh what a relief when you realize that life is not all about you. The striving, accumulating, and positioning to advance one’s own cause wears thin in time. Perceiving yourself as contributing to a larger story, part of the Master’s plan, is freeing and inspiring. Recognizing your purpose is other-centered is a gift.

In his acclaimed book The Purpose Driven Life, author Rick Warren begins, “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It is far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.”

Warren goes on to say: “If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God.”

When your perspective and purpose are eternal, the suffering of your temporal life is more easily endured.

Life Lesson #4: Service is fulfilling.

Devoting yourself to service affords opportunities for your character and empathy to benefit others. The happiest people I know are those who generously—even sacrificially—give of themselves and their resources in service.

Using your gifts, abilities and resources to impact the world with your unique contribution is the cornerstone of true fulfillment.

Life Lesson #5: Relationships are fundamental.

Relationships are the garden of life. Love—our deepest human need—is planted, nurtured, protected and cultivated through relationships. Love blooms through shared experiences that create connection and imprint memories on the heart.

On the other hand, materialism is a destructive weed that insidiously consumes the spirit. Energy devoted to coveting what others have, chasing the next purchase, not to mention managing what is already owned, chokes out the time and energy necessary to tend to our cherished relationships. Preoccupation with things diminishes one’s focus on people.

You were created to love and be loved, to be in relationship with the Creator and with His people.

Life does not offer a parental do-over. During the rest of my days, I will do my best to influence my sons honorably, evidencing these life lessons through my own journey. And, I trust that God will create unique life experiences for each son that will foster maturity and wisdom.

Grandparenting will be a second chance to influence new lives. I look forward to imparting some of these life lessons to the next generation if I am blessed to have “littles” gathered round “Grannie.”

After all, my name is Anne and loved ones call me Annie. “Grannie” just seems like it will fit!

QUESTION: To my fellow moms…would you please share one life lesson you would like to pass along to your children this Mother’s Day? Please share this post with your life lesson via social media to inspire others, using the tag #lifelessons.



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