Giving advice may not be the most difficult job a mother has, but it may be one with the most enduring significance.
A few weeks back, the Herald asked readers to submit photos of themselves with their mothers to Bradenton.com, along with the most memorable nugget of advice Mom had imparted.
Dozens of readers responded. The bits of advice ranged from "Floss every day" to "Go to college so you can get a good fun job" to "Never lower your standards to raise anyone else's."
Herald readers had until Mother's Day to vote for their favorites. The top three entries received prizes, including the first-place prize of a boat trip to Key West.
That went to Melina Adkins of Sarasota, whose mother, Amelia Alanis, taught her about perseverance.
"No matter what hand you are dealt, fight for what you believe in and for what you love," her mother told her. "Do this and you will find your true joy and happiness."
But Adkins said it wasn't her mother's words as much as the way she lives her life that taught her that lesson.
Alanis, who now lives in Brandon, left school as a young girl in Mexico to help raise her siblings. She came to America to make a better life for herself. She didn't speak English, and still doesn't. But she worked hard to support her four kids (Adkins, sons Raul Villarreal and Joel Garcia and daughter Madeleyn Garcia) and to become an American citizen.
"She never got to be a stay-at-home mom," Adkins said, "but that's what she needed to do to provide for her family."
It's the determined attitude that she learned from her mother, Adkins said, that led her to find her own passion.
Adkins had graduated from college with a degree in the arts. But when she found out how hard it was to earn a living, she started college all over again and got an education degree. She now teaches first grade at Team Success Charter School and she loves it.
The second-place winner is Amanda Huffman, who got the best advice when she became a mother herself.
"Cherish every moment," her mother, Sharon Guerra, told her. "Before you know it they are all grown up."
Both Adkins and Huffman submitted pictures of themselves on their wedding day, posing with their mothers.
Third-place winnerTiffany Velez's photoshows her with her baby, Ray. Her husband, Mat-thew, entered the photo, writing for Ray, saying, "My mom is the best because she always encourages me and tells me I can do anything."
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.