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one of the best things i learned from my mother

My mom has taught me so many big life lessons, like always following my dreams, taking care of myself and believing I can do anything. I write about her a lot, and consider her a real role model.

When I mentioned to my kids, though, that I was going to write a post about “Something I Learned from My Mother,” they both immediately knew what I would write about.

She taught me to back into parking spots.

Go ahead and laugh but I can be the first one out of a packed parking lot after a concert and I can smoothly roll back into spots that would take a dozen stressful moves to pull into.

My mother is nothing if not practical, and that’s one of the first things she taught me when I learned how to drive. She put the car in reverse and backed into a tight parking spot matter-of-factly, with grace and purpose, just like she does everything. She made it seem easy.

Backing up has become so natural to me, it’s the signature way I park, much to the amazement of my husband, kids and friends. (Personally, I find it amazing that they can pull in forward.) An extra benefit to this, especially with my aging memory, is that I’m able to find my car easily because it’s usually the only one facing front.

Living in Southern California, I spend an ridiculous amount of time parking in shopping centers, garages, malls – all filled with tons of cars. Backing into spots has gotten me out of a lot of jams, and it’s gotten me out of a lot of parking lots fast.

What’s the big rush, you ask? Why do I feel the need to be ready to flee?

Sorry, but my mother also taught me the importance of always keeping the mystery alive.


  1. Love it! Your mom sounds amazing. When I come to live next door to you we’ll all have to go to lunch….

    Loved this post because it’s a happy one about a mother-daughter relationship. Priceless.

  2. Sally Prangley says:

    You have your mother’s smile, Lois, and it’s infectious! If only back-in parking were as easy to copy!!! Thanks for the inspiring story! As I head out later this morning, perhaps, I, too, shall back into my parking spot!

  3. Your mom sounds amazing! I love those pictures of you and your mom with matching smiles!

  4. sheryl says:

    I think you should offer classes with your mom….you know, with field trips to the spa, the secrets of backing into a parking spot, following our dreams, blogging, etc., etc. :0)

  5. Linda D'Ae-Smith says:

    My mom taught me a lot of things, as well, but parking wasn’t one of them. However, I almost always back-in park, thanks to my back up camera. It’s like having eyes in the back of my head!
    Hope you and you mom enjoy a wonderful Mother’s Day!

  6. Madgew says:

    I always thought backing into a parking spot made it easier for your car to be stolen as the thief could just pullout and disappear in a crowd.:) Things are parents told us-priceless. Love the smiles.

  7. Sweet. And great smiles! You are blessed to have such a great mother. Happy Mother’s Day to both of you!

  8. Teresa says:

    How sweet, and so true about leaving events easily! If you ever get tired of StyleSubstanceSoul you become a valet!

  9. Moms can teach us so many things…mine still does! Such a nice post about your mother.

  10. Valerie says:

    If only I could back in as easily as I can parallel park. You have inspired me to practice.

  11. Such a sweet post. I never back in, but there have been plenty of times I wish I had when I’ve tried to back out of my space in a busy parking lot!

  12. Thought of this in my long stack of quotes in response to your loving tribute to your mom:
    “At the end, it means more than religion to have had a happy childhood. Memory of it serves to hold off pain and fear, it is an unfailing resource. ” Helen Hooven Santmyer

  13. carmel gottlieb says:

    Was talking about Mom the other day and I mentioned that my son likes to back into spots as does my good friend Edith. She is just great. Miss her.

    Love you all,


  14. I loved this…my mom recently passed away. In her eulogy I wrote about some of the things she taught me, including how to parallel park. The pain of losing my mom is still so raw, but your post made me smile. Thank you.

  15. I love that she taught you something so practical!! I had totally forgotten that my mother was was a master parallel parker. I was never as good as she was!.

  16. Hey, this is an important skill! I learned it in driving school, and I admit I don’t always practice it, but I really should.

  17. Love this post, my mom taught me too! You and your mom look alike too! 🙂

  18. Lois, your mother is adorable. I see now where that beautiful twinkle in your eyes comes from.

  19. I grew up in Cypress in So. Cal., so I appreciate how much driving (and parking) you are probably doing. Wonderful pictures!

  20. grownandflown says:

    Most adorable photos of you and your mom! I have loved getting to know her on the pages of SSS and look forward to many more to come.

  21. I like her way of thinking and now she has inspired me to do the same! I want to be prepared for anything, what a great mom lesson!
    You guys are beautiful together.

  22. Parking via backing up is an AMAZING skill to have living in SoCal and so many urban areas – she taught you something So valuable!!!

  23. OMG, I so love this. I was just showing my daughter to do this the other day. You can get into any space if you back in. I’d add to that – driving a stick shift. A person never knows when they might need to drive a truck…or a Porsche! LOL

  24. I love how you focused on such a specific gift. And I feel the same way about parallel parking. My dad taught me, but I kick ass in parallel parking. Thanks so much for both the piece and the picture. It says it all.

  25. Of all the things my mom taught me, backup parking was not one of them. My mom never learned to drive. However, she was a damn good navigator and she always believed the brake pedal she was using on the right side of the car worked.

  26. What a great skill! I used to be good at this, but I’ve lost my parking karma!

    Your mom sounds amazing!

  27. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I love when you write about your mother, Lois, because I see the tremendous love you have for each other in every post. I always enjoy your stories.

  28. Love the photo at the bottom of your blog..your smiles capture the essence of both of you and your beautiful connection.

  29. I love the variety of mothers in these posts! Each one so wonderfully alive thanks to the great GenFab writers. Lois, I could have used your mother when I was learning to drive. My mom couldn’t manage to drive, even though she got her license late in life–she was just too fearful to get behind the wheel. But the license came in handy for getting checks approved at the department store and supermarket! Wonderful post!!

  30. That’s a great skill to have! Who doesn’t want to get out of a concert lot fast? I can do that, but have never mastered parallel parking…I will walk blocks to avoid it.

  31. Your mom is smart! What a great idea to save time. Love this!

  32. Love the practicality; it’s a good skill to have learned. My grandma taught me to make the tasty shortbread cookies that punctuate all our holidays (heart cookies for Valentines Day, bats for Halloween, snowmen & trees for Christmas, red “good fortune” symbols for Chinese New Year).

    When she was still alive I’d call to ask her totally needless questions about the (incredibly simple) recipe each time I made them…. just so we could make them “together” across the miles. Never ceased to make both of us smile. 😉

  33. Backing in is a lost art. Great story!

  34. Carpool Goddess says:

    Gorgeous mother-daughter smiles! Cute story!

  35. daphne says:

    it’s the only way to park… backing in, so you can rush out! 🙂

  36. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru says:

    Backing up is an important life skill!!! So cute that your Mom made sure you had that talent!!!

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