We’ve all experienced it – that moment when you look back on a situation and think: “If only I’d listened to my mom’s advice…” Hindsight always comes back to bite us when we realize we should’ve just trusted our mamas in the first place. I don’t know if it’s the years of experience or an innate motherly instinct, but somehow our moms always seem to know what’s best for us.

My mom is especially brilliant at this. She has a way of looking into the future like a middle-aged That’s So Raven, bestowing wisdom on me with that freakish insight of hers. I took this wisdom for granted when I was younger, but now that I’m twenty-fun, I have an unbelievable appreciation for her guidance. Her little tidbits of advice echo in my ears whenever I’m in a sticky situation, and I’ve learned (through a tedious process of trial and error) to trust them. Mommy Lessons have become increasingly relevant to me in recent years – a realization that I think is shared amongst my fellow 20-somethings. Walk with me as I explore three of these lessons and how they’ve served me throughout my young life.

“Be true to yourself.”

When I was younger this piece of advice was about conducting myself according to what I knew was right in my heart of hearts. “Be true to yourself” was essentially my mom’s version of: “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” As a tween, it taught me to be my own person despite peer pressure and other social expectations.

Today, this is still about being my own person, but it carries more meaning than it used to. Now that I have a sense of self that extends beyond my-favourite-colour-is-purple-and-my-favourite-singer-is-JoJo, I understand how important it is to be myself in a herdlike world. This lesson has obviously taught me to avoid following my friends off cliffs, but more importantly to ride my own wave when everything around me encourages sameness – to showcase my quirks and celebrate them too. I ain’t no sheep.

“The truth will set you free.”

This Mommy Lesson was one that my mom brought out whenever I complained about an icky guilt feeling in my tummy (the worst, right?). “The truth will set you free” acted as a moral code for younger me, encouraging me to be truthful when I, for example, accidentally-on-purpose stole a pack of gum from the grocery store or cut my hair and hid the evidence in my brother’s sock drawer.

Now that I’m older, “the truth will set you free” is more about being vulnerable with people and taking responsibility for my mistakes. It’s about admitting when I’m wrong, especially when my wrongdoings cause somebody harm. It’s about letting the pride curtain fall and sharing my unfabricated truths. This lesson is so relevant in young adulthood with countless deadlines, conflicting demands, and ~drama~. Whenever I’m tempted to make excuses or use a cover-up to save face, I just listen to mama.

“Just focus on you.”

When I was younger, my mom used to say this phrase to soothe me when I was upset about classroom snickers and sneers (or some binches in my ballet class teasing me for my less-than-graceful pirouettes). But this Mommy Lesson has acquired new meaning in young adulthood.

For present-day me, focusing on myself means not letting other people’s opinions of me weigh me down. It means saving the little energy I have left (#Studentlife amirite?) for self-love and acceptance. I think we can all agree that it’s difficult to be unconcerned with how other people see us, but whenever I’m obsessing about my image, I try to remind myself of Mom’s words: “Just focus on you. What other people think of you is none of your business.” It really isn’t.

Never did I imagine that these motherly rules-of-thumb would be most relevant to me in my early 20s. Your list of Mommy Lessons might look different than mine (one of my friends noted that the most important lesson her mom ever taught her was to “put the damn phone away”).  Regardless of what they might be, I encourage you to share them with your mama too. On this Mother’s Day, I hope you – yes, you – thank your mom for the bits of advice that she might’ve given you throughout your life (and don’t forget to give her a big ol’ kiss).

As for me, I know that my mom’s lessons will come in handy when I parent my future kids, and for that I am eternally thankful.