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."
we grew older and wanted new things it was:
"Make do. Do
without. Buy used."
day we got our driver's license this was added:
"Don't ever back
up any farther than you have to."
as we hugged and headed for college the last words we heard were:
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
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.
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,
-- "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:
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
-- "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
-- "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.
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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