I was frantically searching for my keys. Naturally, I was already five minutes late and the kids were about to take their shoes and coats off in the delay time between ready to go and get in the car. Finally, my oldest opened the front door and I saw them hanging from the lock.

The image of the keys dangling not only brought relief, but a realization: I was my mother.

It sounds crazy that a situation like that brought on this awareness, but I cannot count the number of times I was the kid who opened the door to reveal the missing keys for my mom.

It happens to all of us, and often at strange times. Maybe it is the phrase that just spilled out of your mouth, maybe it is the way you fold your laundry or the moment you look at an old photo of her and think it is a mirror.

We are our mothers . . . at least part of them.

Perhaps it’s just my perception, but hearing the expression “You are just like your mother” has never seemed like a strong compliment—even though my mother is amazing. My fierce independence and pride caused me want to be my own person and parent my own way.

I subconsciously focused on recreating my own wheel of successful parenting through education and preparedness. I spent countless hours in classrooms learning about child development and psychology. I listened to podcasts, attended courses at churches, read books, observed and discussed at length with educators, child care workers and other parents about different styles, research and opinions.

Through all this study, I have finally come to the conclusion the successful philosophies and practices are just fancy vocabulary for what my mom did.

Without the degrees, without extra money and without Pinterest . . . she rocked it, and I am in awe.

She organized incredible activities for my siblings and me. She surrounded us with books from the library, limited our TV time and sent us outside to explore nature and report back. She remained consistent in her messages to “be a peacemaker”, “find ways to be creative when you are bored”, “find good in everyone”, and “always work hard but do not over commit”.

Although she surrounded herself with resources and encouraging individuals, she did not try to complicate the parenting process. I now realize her methods of instructing us, praising us, and enriching our learning was not because she was schooled so well in research based methods, it was because she was training under the greatest psychologist, the highest educator and the parent of everyone. She was a student of the word and committed to prayer. These things, above all else, equipped her with wisdom, love, a sacrificial attitude and the knowledge that in spite of whatever mistakes she made, God was in control of her kids’ lives.

I do not regret any of my training, and I will not stop learning and challenging myself in this journey of parenthood, however, if I am lucky enough to hear someone tell me, “You are just like your mother,” I will take it as an extreme compliment, because perhaps they see me radiating the same education and preparedness she had from the source of all love and wisdom.

Allison Struber

Allison Struber is a military spouse and mother of three. Inspired by her kid’s energy and her husband’s dry humor, she spends her days teaching character development in schools, volunteering and trying to figure out a ways to bottle up the sweet moments in life. Find her at fb.me/STEMwritings.