Mother's Day

It's Mom's Maxims on Mother's Day

By Sam Johnson

    As children we were told:
    "Take only what you can eat, and eat everything you take. Be a member of the clean plate club."

     When we grew older and wanted new things it was:
    "Make do. Do without. Buy used."

     The day we got our driver's license this was added:
    "Don't ever back up any farther than you have to."

     And as we hugged and headed for college the last words we heard were:
     "Always keep your options open."

     These are some of the familiar mottos heard at home over the years; tenets we grew up with and lived by; the maxims we still recite and follow and joke about today when we gather as a family.
     And when we were younger (pre-teens and adolescent) and occasionally unruly or rebellious (sister Margie and to a lesser degree my younger sibs Peter and Kari), we often heard quotes with a little sterner stuff to them -- words to the wise that were best heeded. These quotes included:

   -- "Do your share, carry your load, let's get to work!"
   -- "If you don't stop fussing, I'll give you something to fuss about."
   -- "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you..."

        Needless to say, when we heard these words we "jumped to it."
There was no mistaking their meaning.
        But now, compare the above set of quotes with these:

   -- "Think only good thoughts, be happy in your work and keep a song in your heart."
   -- "Remember, life is what you make it."
   -- "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
   -- "Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident."
   -- "Remember, in all this world there is no other, who loves you more than me, your dear mother."

     This last one is the giveaway.
     These are some of Mom's favorite sayings. Just a few of the many she had ready for us in any given situation. Clearly they have a different tone about them than the first group of quotes.
     The first two sets of "words to the wise" were Dad's, and are more akin to commandments or strictures. Mom's favorite quotes, on the other hand, were kinder, gentler "words to live by" and advice aimed at improving our character rather than an immediate behavior.

     Mom could be a disciplinarian too, but it was not her strong point, and we knew her words lacked that special sting that followed Dad's words if we didn't heed them.
     Mom's scolding usually began with an approbation such as, "Well, if your friend told you to jump into the river, would you do it?" or "Do as I say. Remember, I'm your mother."
     Mom had a multitude of maxims she liked to use on us. Not all of them made sense to our way of thinking, and I'm sure many were leftovers from her childhood. But they were founded on love and had our best interests at heart, even if we didn't think so at the time. For example --
    When we were at the table we often heard:
   -- "Eat your fish, it's brain food you know."
   -- "Eat your carrots and you'll be able to see in the dark."
   -- "Eat your peas, please"
   -- "If you love her, give her liver. Now eat it up, it's full of iron and good for you."
   -- "Clean your plate please. Just think of all the starving children in India who don't have such good things to eat."
   -- "Whistle at the table and you'll cry before bed."

   Getting ready for bed, Mom often shared these gems:
-- "Don't forget to wash behind your ears or you'll start growing potatoes there."
   -- "Okay, it's time for bed now. Remember, the best sleep is the sleep you get before midnight."
   -- "Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite."
   -- "Sweet dreams, dear. Think of your favorite things. I'll be thinking of YOU!"

    And during the day, we were often comforted and given confidence with:
   -- "Don't worry, just do the best you can and you'll do fine."
   -- "Don't worry, everything will work out for the best."
   -- "You know, you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be nice to others and they'll be nice to you."
   -- "Two wrongs don't make a right, don't engage in a senseless fight."
   -- "Remember that no matter what happens, you'll always have us."
   -- "I'm your mother, and you know I'll always tell you the truth."
   -- "You can be sure of two things in this world -- there is a God, and I'll always love you!"

       Though Dad and Mom's approaches to dealing with five energetic youngsters were sometimes as different as pepper from salt, their ideas and philosophies on child rearing nevertheless blended together to produce a fairly well seasoned group of adults.
       But as we prepare this weekend to celebrate Mother's Day, it's Mom's maxims we'll remember and recite and smile about. And with her flowers we'll send our own version of one of them:
   "Remember, in all the world there are no others, who love you more than we do, mother!"

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