A friend mentioned how often I quote my mother and it caused me to think about why. In day-to-day living, she had more influence over me than anyone else. While I was closer to my dad, emotionally, Mom set the standards for most things.
Her comment made me wonder if my own children, both male, will quote me when I am no longer here – and if any of my words of wisdom will be passed on to my grandchildren. I think they are more likely to quote some of my mother's wisdom that they heard from me, because I don’t have a lot of original material.
Often, in response to whining about something they wanted, I would sing, “You can’t always get what you want…” [thank you Mick Jagger and Keith Richards]. In addition to Mom, I also took words from favorite books, sometimes to add humor to a situation or emphasize a point, such as Winnie the Pooh [“It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” – Eeyore]; The BFG [“Two rights don’t equal a left.” – the BFG himself]; or Huge Harold [“… doggone and dagnabit. That’s what I call a whopping big rabbit.” – the farmer].
Mom was definitely wiser than I've ever felt, and usually more original. Here are a few of her more memorable isms:
If they are comfortable and fit well, buy them in every color. This refers to shoes. Women in my family have big feet and few large shoes feel good and fail to look like canoes.
Never threaten a child with consequences you don’t plan to follow through on; they need to know you will do what you say [this refers to things like “if you do that again, we will leave"] . This was perhaps the best parenting advice I ever received.
It would be better to live in it than across the street from it . This refers to a purple house we sometimes passed by on the other side of town. When I was a young child, I thought it was beautiful.
It’s not what you want that makes you fat. This was usually said when we begged for food items that were not nutritious, reminding us that it is ok to want something but that treats are special and overindulgences have consequences.
There must have been a sale on pink paint. This also refers to odd house color choices.
Never wear a dress with a pattern that tempts one to count how many it takes to get across your behind . She encouraged small patterns or solids for those with large bottoms.
Buy a whole chicken. Why pay extra for someone to dispose of all those usable parts. To this day, I feel guilty if I buy cut up parts and I do use every bit of the whole chicken!
If you eat enough of it, anything can make you fat. This warned us about overconsumption, even of healthy food like apples.
Invest. Then leave it alone and let it grow. She was a big fan of dividend reinvestment programs and a brilliant investor.
If you can make it or fix it yourself, do it. This particularly applied to prepared foods, but also to simple sewing tasks. Mother was thrifty, crafty, and handy.
Oh dear… loving hands from home. This referred to clothing with that unfortunate look that shouted, “I tried to save money and made it myself.” My first and only home economics sewing project fell into this category. Mom was an excellent seamstress. She made my young son a Daniel Boone costume.
Don’t let that money burn a hole in your pocket. This referred to my temptation to spend money. I got that from Dad.
Fools’ names and fools’ traces, always found in public places. This was not her own expression, but she used it when referring to graffiti or littering.
Don’t put it in writing unless you want to see it in the newspaper. Mother was not a fan of diaries or letters that could be misinterpreted, shared with others, or hurtful. She never used a computer or understood the internet; its power, and some of what we see today, would have frightened her terribly and reading a newspaper on a computer or tablet would have not made sense.
It’s a sin to cut hot bread. She got this from her mother and spoke fondly of “sinning” when bread came out of the oven. See "Bread is Love."
You can't hold a baby too much. See "Never Let a Good Baby Go to Waste." Mom loved babies. At the time of her passing, she had three great grandchildren; she now has seven.
It won’t be noticed on a galloping horse. Small flaws such as poor ironing jobs, or a hem that wasn’t perfectly even, but she didn’t want to bother fixing, were sometimes deemed good enough because the extra work wasn’t worth the time.
The gift isn’t yours until you write the thank you note. Mom disliked writing, but wrote obligatory thank you notes and insisted we do the same. She kept track of which grandchildren wrote to thank her when she distributed checks.
There is nothing like the Florida sun to bleach a stain. She believed in using nature to accomplish tasks that others used chemicals for. She was correct. Most linen napkins or white fabrics benefit from a few hours in the sun.
Every Mother needs a rocking chair. Mother loved to rock. Her mother loved to rock. I think it soothed her and perhaps made her think of summer days on the wide front porch of her Kentucky home, or of her own mother taking a break from chores. And she loved rocking babies.
You can’t get milk from a discontented cow. The first time she said this to me, I was a new mother, trying to feed my baby before leaving for my first board meeting since his birth. I was a mess. Nothing was going right, he couldn’t nurse, and being called a discontented cow was not helping. She sat me in the rocking chair and forced me to stop racing around the house worrying about all the things I thought were important, and just be a happy cow with my baby. And all was well.
Mom has been gone for several years. As her 98th birthday approaches, I appreciate her wisdom and love more every day.
While I don't have any Momisms about best friends, I know she would say something like, "You are lucky if you have one. They don't come along often and you need to appreciate them." Amen!