The Echo of Mom’s Voice

Tuesday, I’m attending a business luncheon where we will be asked to tell about an influential woman from our past. I’ve done this type of thing before, and yet not once did it occur to me to select my own mom—until this year.

I LOVE what Deb Guy, Executive Director of the Women’s Exchange in Chicago, says, “I’ve learned a big lesson in my sixth decade: I had my mother too young. Now, more than ever, I realize all that she taught me.” 


When I think back to my teenage years, my seven biggest complaints transformed into invaluable lessons that echo in my head today. Her influence redefined my own Whalen Voice. 

Mom’s Voice of wisdom: 

  1. “Say it correctly” She was always correcting my grammar. I didn’t know why she had to be so picky and yet English seemed “natural” for me in school.  Maybe there is a reason they call it a MOTHER TONGUE. 
  2. “Try harder” She was never satisfied with a half-tushy try. Her mantra, “Try a little harder!” And so perseverance became my habit.
  3. “Let’s get this work finished” Because she needed to feed a family of 10, a hungry hired man and anyone else who came to the farm at dinner, we had a ginormous garden. It must have had 100 miles of beans to pick and 500 buckets of corn to shuck. And yet—now I’m able to work for hours on a task without batting an eye. 
  4. “Get along!” She insisted that we get along with our sibs—even when they were annoying. Today, maintaining mutually beneficial working relationships is my first priority. 
  5. “I want children.” Mom wanted to have eight children. She set her goal and achieved it! I did not personally inherit this goal (like others in my family), yet if she could set and reach her seemingly impossible goals, then I have the confidence to do the same.
  6. Pay Promptly In her later years, I’d hand her a bill, and with three strokes she’d open it, write the check, stamp the letter and hand it back to me to be mailed out. She taught me the value of prompt payment, which I emulate for my vendors. 
  7. “I love you.” There are no unique words she used to echo her Unconditional Love, but I remember the look on her face when her heart filled with pride—no matter what we did. And I now realize that LOVE is all there is. 

Bonus… Give a little extra. Back in the day when she sold eggs, or brought a dozen cookies to church,  she’d always added a little extra—just to be generous. Today, when selling my greeting cards, I do the same and include a note explaining that this “Alice Extra” is an echo of Mom’s  Whalen Voice.

I didn’t appreciate her then, but I do now. Thanks Mom!

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