Instead of lamenting her lack of a man to take out the trash, help her discipline me, or split the early-morning school drop-offs, her mantra was "we are women, we are strong." This meant that, even though we may not always want to do it all, it's important that we remember we can.My mother's strong example instilled countless important lessons in me about life as a single woman. I can check that off my life to-do list and look for a man for love or companionship or sex – or all three. Whether the single part was by way of divorce, breakup, death or choice, it was a big deal, and that changed you. I have lunches to make and doctor appointments to schedule. Busy single moms have fewer lonely nights to fill, fewer dinners eaten alone.

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One of the most important (and ever-present) themes across my mom's life lessons was the necessity of self-respect.

She not only reiterated to me the importance of self-respect in building healthy relationships, but served as an example to me of what a self-respecting woman looked like — she never belittled herself (or me), went after what she wanted unabashedly, and didn't apologize for things she wasn't truly sorry for.

Growing up, my mom was a big fan of the "actions speak louder than words" mantra in our own relationship — and this translated directly into romantic relationships, too.

If all you want is a warm body at night, you can find one — especially in today's world, where dating apps have made hundreds of romantic options available at a swipe of the screen.

Their relationship taught me that romantic relationships do not need to be considered the most significant mark of life's success — fostering loving relationships with family, friends, and yourself can bring you just as much (or more) joy and contentment than romantic relationships, and shouldn't be swept aside in favor of romantic pursuits.

From a very early age, my mom taught me that we are all worth more than second-best — that we are wonderful and deserving, and should only be with people who see and celebrate these qualities.

They've guided my life as I've become a single woman myself and begun negotiating the world of dating — her words always float around in the back of my head, reminding me that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be whole, and reassuring me that I can wait to settle down with someone until I have found the right person and want to be with them for the right reasons.

I'd like to say that I've followed all of her lessons perfectly, but I haven't — but being kind to yourself when you fail to live up to your own ideals is one of the most powerful lessons that she taught me.

She taught me not to settle for being a side piece, a guilty pleasure, or a back-up.