Things Mom Used to Say

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

During the first few months after her death, I found myself panicked and worried that I was going to lose the essence of who my Mom was. I have a small collection of voicemails, Snapchat videos (with fun filters!), and photos of her on my phone. I became obsessive about finding everything I had with her in it.  I also started a NOTES folder on my phone of Things My Mom Used to Say. Whenever something would come up, I’d jot it down hoping to hand-letter them someday (when I felt my handwriting was good enough!).

For the first two years after her death, I participated in the #100daychallenge to help keep my creativity alive.  If you’re not familiar with a 100-day challenge, you pick a themed art project to work on daily for 100 days straight. It’s something that is documented by many participants on Instagram all over the world. 

In 2018, I worked on #100daysartbeforebreakfast  where I spent 100 days drawing and painting florals before eating breakfast in the morning. 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

In 2019,  I decided to do more handwriting practice and write words that had meaning or were thought-provoking for 100 days with #shutterbeanwords.

And then in April of 2020 when we were all home due to a pandemic, I decided it was the right time to start hand-lettering the things my Mom used to say. I had three more years of handwriting practice under my belt so I was ready. 

See:  #100thingsMomusedtosay

For a hundred days, I shared parts of my Mom with the world. The pandemic stirred up a lot of grief (for everyone!) and I found it to be a great way to keep her spirit close when I needed a Mom the most. 

When I finished in July, I set out to make a book with all the sayings.  I used the BookWright program through Blurb and worked on putting it together after Cooper went to bed at night during lockdown. In order to stay motivated, I gave myself the goal to have this book done at least a month before Christmas so I could get it printed and gift copies to my family members. Turns out I work really well with deadlines and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

Here’s the cover.  I took this picture of my Mom during the last year of her life. We were at one of her favorite places- the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. This is the first thing she said to me when we saw this statue.  That was my Mom! 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

In the book, I alternated the pages between black and white and moved things around so some of her quotes would play well off of each other. 

It turned out to be 106 pages total. 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

Here are some of my faves: 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

She would tell me to lighten up when I didn’t think something was a joke. 

“Cool your jets!” was something she said to the men in my family. 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

Some tough life lessons!

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

You can see more of her sayings on the hashtag- #100thingsMomusedtosay 

On her last Mother’s Day (I didn’t know it was her last!) I made her this. 

I wanted to include it in the book. 

Three years later, I re-lettered it and added more:

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

Here’s a closeup of that. SHE WAS A TREASURE, that’s FOR SURE. 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

And a little photo collage of my beautiful Mom made its way into the back too. 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

I ended it with something she used to say ALL THE TIME.

(She never liked being interrupted.)

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

Love Always, Mom! 

Things Mom Used to Say Book by Tracy Benjamin of

When I feel the need for love/support from my Mom, I just flip through the book and see what saying I land on first. It’s like pulling a tarot card or getting a fortune. It’s truly magical! 

See for yourself! 


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My brothers, Dad, and niece were happy to receive one for Christmas. They all have their own special relationship to her sayings and I am glad they can now keep her close by too. 

If you find yourself on a holiday like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and you miss your parents, please remember that you’re definitely not alone. It can be such a huge trigger to see so many people be able to celebrate with their Moms when you cannot. 

My Mom would always tell me:

And I did just that! 

If I can inspire at least one person by sharing my healing process, I know my Mom would be absolutely proud.  <3

Thank you so much for your support throughout these years. I appreciate how kind you’ve all been as I navigate my life without her. 

  • Kristen

    This is stunning. You are a stunning person. Thank you for all you share. You make a huge difference in our lives. To the Beav!

  • Katie

    This is such a beautiful tribute! Your love for your mom radiates right off the screen, and she sounds like she was an amazing woman/mom. Seeing you share your process of grieving and celebrating your mom over the past few years has been a reminder to consciously appreciate my time with my loved ones – thank you for sharing so openly.

  • Kristin

    Oh my gosh, what a lovely way to remember and celebrate your mom. Putting “You didn’t let me finish” at the end was so poignant. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Ashley

    What a lovely tribute. It also speaks volumes about your mom (no pun intended!!!) that she created such a loving and thoughtful daughter. Sending you hugs. Have a wonderful weekend.

  • lisa finnimore

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing this, the finale for all you have shared with these phrases over the years. I am in tears, needless to say, but with smiles. Your relationship with your mom has always interested and entertained me. The love and support you had for each other shone through every story. I have felt privileged to read about you both, I am feeling the fragility of my mum very much right now and I am in a state of mild panic about it a lot of the time and I haven’t known quite what to do with these heavy feelings. “Do something productive with them” is what I hear now! I commit to this, I am not sure exactly how yet, but you can be sure that sharing your healing process has helped and inspired me, and hundreds and hundreds more. Thank you Tracy x

    • Tracy

      Lisa! thank you for being such a loyal reader. It means a lot to me!

  • Megan

    This is so beautiful! It makes me want to treasure every moment I have with my mother and strive to be the best mother I can be to my daughter. Your mother seemed like such a phenomenal woman, and you are too!

    • Tracy

      She was great! She worked really hard to give us a life full of things she didn’t have herself. Mostly- unconditional love. It was a HUGE GIFT!

  • Judi

    Oh, Tracy, I love this and your heart so much! Such an amazing way to remember your mom! Thank you for sharing her with us!

  • Mary

    This is heart-warming and a lovely memory of your Mother.
    You could also be remembering every mother that is and was and I’m sure your remembrances will help many of your followers to feel close to their Mums on this special day and every day.

  • Sally

    A beautiful tribute! Not that I knew your Mum but I would think she would be very chuffed and proud of what you have made. Mother’s Day especially is hard when yours isn’t there to share.

  • Claire

    Tracy this is beautiful. I remember reading your posts when you lost your mom, and how much she is still part of your daily life. When my mum died last April I thought about your posts often and I’ve found them very comforting. Thank you for your fabulous blog.

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  • Coralee

    What a beautiful tribute you created.
    This is so cliche to say but you are truly an inspiration. You took the thing I literally dread the most in life, the loss of your mom, and turned it into an opportunity for learning and growth. I can still remember reading the post about your mom’s death and really had to process why it affected me so much because of course I have never met you or your mom. But I realize this is one of your most valuable gifts, to always share the beautiful things and sometimes the painful things as well so we can see them in a new light. This ultimately illuminates things such as grief and helps your readers understand it a bit more as it is a journey we all have to undertake at some point.
    Today is Mother’s day and you are not alone.
    So many people like me, a random internet stranger are holding you close, thinking about you and greatly appreciating all the things you choose to share about your beautiful life.
    I wish you all the very best as you continue your journey and always remember when you feel alone you never truly are as that is your reader’s gift back to you.
    Thank you. ❤️

    • Tracy

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Coralee. What an amazing gift you are! I am so touched. Wow.

  • Carrie

    This is beautiful! What a loving tribute to your mom. Wishing you a wonderful Mother’s Day.

  • MC

    This is just so amazing. What a fabulous way to remember and celebrate your mom. Thank you for sharing your feelings about losing your mom on here, it’s been an honor to be a reader for all of these years. You radiate so much light, just like your mom.

  • Courtney

    This is so inspiring. We just lost my mother in law in December, and this was the first Mother’s day without her. I am trying to figure out a way to honor her memory. I am gravitating towards a recipe/cookbook. So glad you could create something like that for everyone to hold onto. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Tracy

      A recipe/cookbook is a great way to honor her! I have my Mom’s recipe binder and I cherish it SO MUCH.

  • Cassie Sue

    When my Dad died, I set out to do something like this and just couldn’t get it completed, maybe I need t pick it up again. Its a beautiful tribute! Great job!

    • Tracy

      The only way I was able to do it was to commit to sharing it on my Instagram every day.

  • Erin

    What an incredible woman! And you seem to be quite like her 🙂 thank you for opening your heart to share this. What a gift.

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