900 Miles from Home, Yet I Still Rely on These Life Rules from My Mom

This was an article I wanted to publish around Mother’s Day as a thank you and a tribute to my mom. However, due to the chaotic nature of finals, saying bye to my new friends and packing, it unfortunately never happened. Now in the third week of my sophomore year at Notre Dame, I am struck with guilt whenever I hit the red decline button under my mom’s name as I sit in office hours or spend time with friends. There may not be a special occasion around the corner, but I figured that a little mom love is always good for the soul. 

My mother and I are very similar — we make quirky jokes, find joy in spontaneous dancing and love an evening walk on the beach or in the woods. However, despite our similarities now, there are definitely moments in my life where the idea of becoming a strong woman like my mother feels unachievable. Unsurprisingly, the person who helps me overcome said feelings is my mom. 

I left home a little bit earlier than most — I transferred into a boarding school my sophomore year of high school. While I would not trade my experience at boarding school for the world, I do feel as though I missed out on some of the classic, smaller moments between a mom and a daughter. In order to make up for this sense of lost time, I became more open with my mom about boys, schoolwork, health, feelings, etc. and this has triggered an incredible amount of knowledge to come my way. While most of these life rules can apply to people of any age, a couple of them have become more present and valuable for me this past year. 

1) Clean your room. 

Growing up, I definitely was annoyed that my mother would not let me have a friend over or even go on a playdate to another friend’s house, without a clean room. To this day, I still get a little bit frustrated when she reminds me to clean it. But, I have to admit that it feels pretty nice once it is done. The life advice of having a clean house/room before guests come over has also saved me from some embarrassment this year – people always excuse it, but it is so much nicer to walk into a room that you can see the floor of. 


2) Drink water, not soda or juice. 

To this day, my mom prides herself on her strict, "No Soda in the House" rule. Again, this was something I resented as a kid for all of my friends enjoyed Sprite or apple juice at home. But looking back on it now, I am glad that I have not developed the habit of reaching for soda in NDH, for most of us don't drink enough water on a day-to-day basis anyway.  


3) If you need to clear your head, go for a walk outside. 

This one is fairly self-explanatory and it definitely has come into play while at Notre Dame.


4) Don’t buy it, make it. 

This is definitely a piece of advice that I have been bad at following while at Notre Dame (I have bought far too much Starbucks while my Keurig sits unused). On a more serious note though, my mom always encouraged me to make birthday cards, Halloween costumes and cookies by hand. Yes, this takes more time and effort, but they end up much more appreciated. 


5) Donate your clothes. 

Not only will you feel less cluttered overall, but you are giving someone else the opportunity to love/revamp/accessorize something that you no longer use. 


6) Hang out with people outside your age range

My mom works as a nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at a nearby hospital. Before that, she worked in the PICU (pediatrics). Needless to say, my mom loves kids and is pretty much an expert on them. Therefore, in her spare time, she loves hanging out with our cousin’s kids, neighbors’ babies and much more. While her love for kids has inspired me to also love kids, she also has encouraged me to spend time with those even further from my age – the elderly. It is pretty amazing how much we can learn from those who are just decades older (or younger) than us. At Notre Dame, this advice has encouraged me to make friends with the wonderful women of all grades in Cavanaugh Hall and even in dorms across campus. 


7) No matter how long the trip is, bring a book, water and a snack for the car. 

You never know if you are going to get bored of your *perfectly curated* road trip playlist, or if you are going to get a sudden pang of hunger. Better safe than sorry. 


8) Nobody likes the taste of sour grapes. 

This particular piece of advice is fairly common, but it is definitely one that my mother says often. There is so much in the world to be grateful for, and you should focus on these wonderful things rather than dwelling – and complaining – about the negative things.


9) Don’t chase after anyone. Especially in college. 

My mom has always told me to focus on spending time with my friends and spend less energy on “finding love,” especially at a young age. While there are definitely cases of people falling in love at Notre Dame, these tend to be situations that happen more naturally. Rather than actively trying to get someone’s attention and keep it, focus on your happiness, limited time in college and friends. Love will eventually come. 


10) “All the broken hearts in the world still beat.” 

Following my previous point about romance, sometimes things just don’t work out. Within the past year, my mother has emphasized this particular Ingrid Michaelson lyric at moments where I felt belittled and disappointed by a boy. As Ingrid Michaelson perfectly states in her song “Girls Chase Boys,” all the broken hearts in the world still beat. Despite the pain you may feel, it is important to remember that you are alive, well and have a beautifully strong body. The best is yet to come. 


Photos 1, 2 and 3 provided by Author. 

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