The One Where I Learned from Watching Her

I push the box of cereal further back on the conveyor belt. After all, there’s already 3 or 4 produce-related items there, and I have to keep them all together so it’s easier to put the groceries away when I get home.

I fold the sleeves of my shirts in first, then fold them up into thirds.

When the baby I’m holding starts whimpering, I whisper, “what’s your matter?” as I bounce them gently on my hip.

My hand mixer and my grill utensils are in the same drawer.

When the pastor makes a particularly eloquent point in church I find myself saying “hmm” under my breath.

I gasp sharply as I swerve to miss a raccoon in the road.  My boyfriend jumps, annoyed and startled.

The slightest relational conflict cuts me deep, and I’m loyal to a fault – I won’t let go of friendships that should be over, constantly reaching out again and again.

I find joy in the outdoors, in walking barefoot through the cold, damp dirt of a garden or letting a calf suck on my fingers. Fall is my favorite season; I love to crunch the leaves.

Travel runs in my veins, and I would accept a ticket to anywhere as long as I could explore like a local instead of being a tourist.

I sing “give me that foot” when I put kids’ shoes on. When I read “Love You Forever,” I know how the song is supposed to sound.

For every day of my 22 years, my mother has been teaching me. Though I have not always recognized it as such, I’ve constantly been learning.  How to boil an egg, scrub a toilet, fold clothes (though I do that far less frequently than she, and much more slowly), respond to service workers, and treat the elderly.  As I attempt to be an “adult,” I see more of my mother in myself every day.  I hear her in my phone voice, I see her in the way I hold babies and talk to kittens.  She hovers in the memories of childhood, the little routines and traditions I hope to one day pass on to my children.

I remember asking her, once, why she did something the way she did.

“That’s how Nana always did it,” she replied. “I learned from watching her.”

At the time, I didn’t fully grasp the depth of the comment, but I think I’m starting to now.  See, we never sat down and had “How To Be An Adult” lessons. My mother never handed me handbooks about tucking the sheets into hospital-style corners or gave me worksheets about appreciating the world around me and loving those different than me.  Instead, she showed me in quiet ways, by living out her life in a manner worthy of exemplifying. When I see her traits in myself, I am proud to say that “I am my mother’s daughter.” She taught me every day, and she’s still teaching me today. Through lengthy daily phone calls, visits home and ceaseless prayers, she continues to teach me.

I was asked the other day why I did something the way I did.

“That’s how my mom always did it,” I replied.  “I learned from watching her.”


2 thoughts on “The One Where I Learned from Watching Her”

  1. I am looking often for “new” tied heartstrings. So glad when I come across a new one.
    Love, love your writing. Just mentioned to Julie yesterday that I had not seen new writing
    in a while. Waiting for your books to come out


  2. Dear Alyssa,,
    Dr. Swindoll asked his wife one day why she always cut off the end of the roast as she was
    putting the roaster in the oven. She replied that her mother always did it and she did too.
    Dr Swindoll asked his mother-in-law why she always cut the end of the roast off as she was
    putting it in the oven. She replied that her mother always did it that way. Dr
    Swindoll asked his wife’s grandmother why she cut off the end of the roast before putting it in
    the oven. She said” That is the only way it will fit in the roaster”. Now you know why we do
    such things.


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