Mom Always Says

by | Apr 29, 2024 | News

This guest post is written by Lisa McNeilley, one of the co-directors of Mom Always Says, a storytelling event raising funds for CASA. Mom Always Says will be held on Saturday, May 4 at 6 p.m at Fountain Street Church and is underwritten by Fountain Street Church. Tickets make perfect Mother’s Day gifts! Purchase tickets to support CASA at

Before becoming a mother, you never know what kind of parent you will be. Sure, you think about what you will and won’t do, but until you are in the thick of things, you don’t know for sure. I wanted to raise strong, competent, independent children. As a mom, I always said things like, “Go forth, learn, and have fun!” or “You’re a kid. You should be dirty and loud.” I believed those things I said at the time, but now that they have had the desired result, I’m not so sure. My kids are strong, competent, and independent – and while I am grateful for this, it can be a bummer sometimes.

My son has launched a successful career as a user experience designer. He works for the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Sure, Minneapolis is a great place, but it’s not the kind of place I want my son to be. It’s too far from Grand Rapids. Why, oh why, did I ever tell him to learn stuff, to go forth? Why didn’t I say, “You should always stay close to your mother who loves you” instead?

My daughter is even worse. She is serving in the Peace Corps. Right now, she lives in a mountain village with indigenous people in Panama. She took that going forth thing way too seriously. And also, the being dirty thing, because they don’t have running water. She’s having the kind of experience that I didn’t even consider when I was her age.

Sure, I’m proud of both of them, but wouldn’t it be better if I had had a little more insight before I started spouting off my motherly advice? That’s why events like Mom Always Says are so important. We can share stories about motherhood and reflect on our own experiences as mothers or as human beings who have mothers. We can share all the different permutations of motherhood, both good and bad. And if we’re not mothers, we can explore the way our mothers, present or absent, have shaped who we are.

That is why storytelling is so vital to our human existence. Did you know that listening to a good story actually increases oxytocin, associated with empathy, and dopamine, associated with pleasure? Mom Always Says is an opportunity to come together and share the stories that are important to all of us. At the same time, we will be raising money for CASA, so we will be improving the life stories of children in our community. Mom Always Says celebrates motherhood in honor of Mother’s Day, and you will start thinking of all the things your mom always said to you.



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