MamaBlogger365 – About Life: What I’ve Learned from My Mother by Elle Gallo

What I’ve learned from my Mother

It wasn’t so much her words or instructions that taught me, but her example.

The struggles we face in each chapter of life and the methods we develop to overcome them prepare us for the obstacles that lay in the next…our destiny, our journey, and our legacy are unique, our own. Own it. No blame, just value.

Mom never had it easy. The middle of 7 children born into an alcoholic family, she developed a strong sense of responsibility, self-sacrifice, resourcefulness and survival right out of the gate. She could have easily blamed her parents for what she went through as a child, but she never did. The characteristics that she acquired through her experiences served her well as she became a mother and wife at 21, and her deep love and respect for her own Mother who had persevered and successfully overcome her addictions and then became her Rock as she struggled with 3 babies, no money, and her own alcoholic husband.

Everyone does the best they can with what they have to work with.

We all have a unique history, a series of experiences that create our perceptions, outlooks, thought patterns. We are all struggling with our own unique challenges. Examining my mother’s experiences and situations allowed me to shift from judging and blaming to allowing, accepting and owning responsibility. That shift awakened me to realize that we are all doing the best we can within our limited individual capabilities, which are completely based on our own personal history.

Hard Work
True character is built by doing what needs to be done, no matter what you have to conquer to do it.

She mowed the lawn, she fixed the plumbing, she made the curtains, she answered to the bill collectors. She packed up house and home over, and over, and over again. She waited in lines at the food bank. She walked to the store pushing carriages and carrying bags. She stood up, head to head and fist to fist with those who bullied her children – even went to court for it – and won! She fixed the furnace. She fixed the car’s engine. She got the skunk out of the house. She did it all, and in that, taught me that there’s nothing that I can’t accomplish.

What you give is what you’ll get, when you need it most.

I was there when my father practically ran into the house, wrapped my mother in his arms as she surrendered to the grief of her Mother’s death after a long and horrific battle with cancer. I’d never seen my mother fall apart before. I was 13. She fell to pieces and he held her up, just as she had held him up through all the years of his struggles. In that moment, when she needed it the most, my father, many years sober now, stood strong and loving, just as my mother had always been for him. It was also that moment when I realized the depth of their love for each other and the undying commitment they had to one another.

Never, ever, ever give up. Even when everyone else has…ESPECIALLY when everyone else has.

I’d competed in the Miss Massachusetts pageant for several years. Finally, some of the usual supporters stopped attending. Mom confided that they figured the contest was “rigged” and I’d never win. She told me that if I kept believing, I would; that it didn’t matter how many people were cheering for me. it wasn’t about popularity, but about what I wanted, how badly I wanted it and how hard I worked for it. I won that year, and it was perfect.

Is unique and individual. Everyone show’s their love in their own way.

When you recognize and accept this, your whole perception shifts and your life changes. This is how my mother saved my marriage, years before it needed to be saved. When my daughter was born I was so overwhelmed with a love I’d never experienced before. I couldn’t get enough, do enough, love enough of her. I said to my mother, “Mom, there’s no way you could have loved me as much as I love Emma. I mean, I hug her incessantly. I kiss her face constantly. I tell her I love her every 15 minutes. I never remember you doing that, or feeling that from you.” My Mother responded, without having to remind me of all the unique struggle she faced as a young mother, “every night, after I put you and the others to bed, and I cleaned the house and prepared what I had to for the next day, and wondered when your father would come home, every single night, I went to your closet, ironed your clothes and polished your shoes for the next day. THAT’S how I loved you.” Boy, talk about an eye opener. Many years later, when I struggled to feel my husband’s love, my mother’s words came back to my mind and I could then easily list and count the numerous sacrifices and actions that he made purely out of love and devotion for me.

Learn to say “No”.

Sometimes saying “no” to someone else means saying “yes” to yourself. Learn to keep yourself healthy.
Mom has had to listen to her body. She has always been prone to physical pain and limitations. It’s forced her to prioritize and know when to say when. It’s cost her, it’s been an emotional challenge. We all want to do everything, and please everyone. But we need to take time to rest our bodies and our minds, to stop and smell the roses of our own lives. Her physical conditions forced her to learn to say “no”; and I’m learning to follow her lead… and I’m so grateful for the example.

That life is a journey and each chapter has its own theme, its own set of struggles, lessons and areas of growth. There’s a time for everything.

Mom was always very smart, and promising. From 21 to her mid 50’s she raised and counseled her children: one who was always sick, up all night banging his head against walls, one who was dangerously insecure, and one who was painfully shy, one who was attention-seeking, promiscuous and high-risk; while she counted every penny – most every day. She loved and supported a husband who came to her as just an irresponsible, carefree boy, the baby of his family of 3 older sisters; and helped him to become a respectable provider. She often thought about what she could have accomplished in banking, the field she planned to enter upon graduation. Today, she is an accomplished, very well respected and sought-after banker, climbing quickly the the ranks of financial America – and now she vacations and travels very regularly too.

My Mother is a lady. My mother is a tough cookie. My mother is devoted and committed to her family, her work, her beliefs and her-self. My Mother is my role model. And on my good days, when I look in the mirror, sometimes I see her staring back at me.

Thank you for leading the way, Mom.

Bio: Elle Gallo is a working-like crazy-stay-at home Mom in Massachusetts. An award-winning singer/songwriter she has opened for Travis Tritt, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, Blondie, J Geils and many others. The founder of The Eve Rising Foundation and the executive director of The Eve Rising Music Festival, Elle also is a board member of her local Cultural Council. She is the creator of Authentic Sentiments and Bath Blessings, and coaches on-on-one, is available for group lectures or to facilitate more intensive workshops. You can read more excerpts from Learning To Live at or learn more about her music at

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