Lessons I hope to teach Ainsley

Around Mother’s Day, it seems reporters like to ask folks about the most important things they learned from their mothers.

One day, maybe such a question will be posed to an adult Ainsley. And here’s what I hope she has to say.

Read as much as you can.

I will be delighted if Ainsley loves Shakespeare and Jane Austen. But I also hope she does a better job than I did of reading different authors in varied genres and discovering wonderful new voices and the amazing stories they have to tell.


Even though Ainsley was the very last person in her preschool class to get on a plane, I am confident that will not interfere with her appreciation of travel. We hope to balance the influence of one set of grandparents, who took a family vacation tracing Mozart’s life through Europe, with the other, who liked vacationing in places with rides.

Say yes to the tasting menu.

Lupa in Greenwich Village. Topolobampo in Chicago. Two of the best meals I’ve had in my life were tasting menus. Forget ordering your favorites. Put your fate in the chef’s hands and eat like you’ve never eaten before.

Try new things.

A common thread that emerges here is the notion of getting out of your comfort zone. I think that practice should be applied to all areas of life.

Be a human being, not a human doing.

Life can be an exhausting mix of doing the things you need to do (work, laundry, dishes) and things you want to do (reading, eating out, traveling). Sometimes, though, you need to pause and just be. In that quiet space, you just might be able to hear what your heart is telling you.

Shake it off.

Ainsley’s current favorite Taylor Swift song is growing on me. Even if I didn’t like the tune, the message is a good one. Constructive criticism offered with love can be a wonderful way to gain perspective. Unfortunately, not all critics are motivated by love. The haters are going to hate, and sometimes all you can do is shake it off.

Be comfortable in your faith.

Ainsley’s kindergarten teacher mentioned during a conference this year that Ainsley talks about God a lot. That made me a little nervous, seeing as she’s now in public school. Then I shared the story with a pastor in town and he said, “Good for her!” I realized he’s right. I hope she keeps talking about God for the rest of her life.

Find good friends.

As an only child myself, I understand Ainsley’s desire to have a sibling. I also am fortunate to have learned that you can love someone like a sister without sharing a mother.

Be kind.

It is easy to be kind to people you love. Being kind to people who make you feel afraid or inferior is so difficult. When I’m able to respond to those types with kindness, I never regret it.

Remember that where your treasure is, that is where your heart is.

That sounds like one of those quotes you hear during a church stewardship campaign — and that’s probably where I heard it the first time. But it has stuck with me, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how true it is. Your time, your talents, your money — how you spend those indicates what is important to you, like it or not.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. This column was first published May 5, 2015.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean