Today is Mother’s Day. If your mom is still living, I hope you are honoring her in some special way. If she is not, today is the day for fond memories of her and what I call “momisms.”
We all know that moms have eyes in the back of their heads. They know what’s good for you and what’s bad for you. They know when you are going to catch your death of cold. They know when you are sick and when you are faking, and on, and on, and on.
Moms are pretty special people and the amazing thing is that when we get older, we hear ourselves as our moms more often than most of us would like to admit. When my sister and I are together one of us will always say, “You sound just like mother.”
People older than I am may have heard their mom say, “When I was a little girl…” which may be followed with “I walked to school barefoot in the snow for five miles every day.” Well, my mom didn’t walk to school in the snow. She rode to school in an old car driven by her 14-year-old brother. They were living at Cherry Mound and a group of young people rode to high school in Denison with them.
Today, moms with children to be dropped off at school, taken to music lessons, taken to soccer, baseball or football practice or any one of the hundreds of other places that today’s young people need or want to go, no doubt have made the statement, “I’m not running a taxi service,” but she really is.
“I didn’t ask who put it there, I said pick it up” is one I frequently said to my young sons. We had an invisible boarder at our house who always put things out of place, ate the bananas being saved for Banana Nut Cake or did all the other things that no one wanted to own up to. I’ve made that statement many times and hear my grandchildren saying the same thing to my great-grandchildren.
“Go ask your father” can mean many things. It can be a cop-out when you don’t know the answer. It can be a punishment for the father who is trying to remain invisible to stay out of an argument, or it might mean mom knows the answer, but doesn’t know how to express it without being embarrassed or keeping a straight face.
“You’re running away? Let me help you pack your bag.” My kids, before they were school age, pulled that one on me one night after dark and I helped them get ready to go. They put their little coats on, picked up their little bag and started walking. I waited a few minutes thinking they would be scared and come running back through the door. They didn’t and I had to go get them about a block away. Thankfully, they only did that once.
Especially if your mom had boys, she probably said “A little soap never hurt anyone.” Boys sometimes think they are allergic to soap.
“Eat your carrots — they’re good for your eye.” I still don’t like cooked carrots and I don’t have 20-20 vision. Maybe not eating my carrots is the reason. “Eat the crust on your bread — it’ll make your hair curly.” Maybe that’s why some have it and some don’t. It didn’t work for me.
“I don’t care what everyone else is doing. I care about what YOU are doing,” is a stock answer even today by parents everywhere. Often times the statement, “I wouldn’t make you do it if I didn’t love you,” is a follow up.
How many times have we heard our mom say, “Turn off the lights. Do you think we own the electric company? Close the door, where you born in a barn?” or maybe, “You’re letting all the cold (or warm) air out.” But it’s not only kids who have a way of forgetting to close the door, turn off the lights and to not slam the screen door. I sometime do it and my husband also does it occasionally.
Moms ask a lot of questions. “Did you brush your teeth?” “Did you clean your room?” “Did you comb your hair?” “Did you flush?” “Do you think money grows on trees?” “Do you want a time out?” “Do you think your socks are going to pick themselves up?” “Do you think this is a hotel, and well it’s not.” I’m sure there are hundreds of other questions moms say on a regular basis and I’m willing to bet their moms said the same things.
“Don’t cross your eyes — they may hang that way.” What child hasn’t heard that remark at the smart age when he/she just learned their eyes could be crossed? I’ve never heard of it actually happening, but guess it could. “Don’t stick your tongue out at people, your face will freeze,” always bothered me.
“Keep your shoes on, Jack Frost will get your toes,” is utterly ridiculous, but one of my friends says that word of wisdom really stuck with her. I have one “dadism” to stick in here. My dad always said “You cannot go barefoot until June 1 and you have to wash your feet in cold water before you do.” I never understood that, and I’m afraid that daddy didn’t know what I usually did.
“Don’t swallow a watermelon seed, it may grow in your stomach,” is a good one. I’m sure I’ve swallowed a few in my younger days when I loved watermelon so much, but to my knowledge, the only seeds that grew in my stomach turned out to be boys and they didn’t come from a watermelon.
“Don’t drink milk (or eat fish products for that matter) when you eat fish.” I have no idea where that came from, but my mother and two grandmothers swore by it. Today some fish dishes are prepared with milk and I’ve never heard of them making anyone sick. Probably that rule was handed down by my grandmothers’ mothers before them.
How many of us sat on the beach, a picnic table or lawn chair after a picnic waiting that 30 minutes or an hour before getting into the water. I remember it being 30 minutes, but my sister says it was an hour. I had to laugh recently when my son was visiting and after lunch I said, “I’m going to the pool to exercise.” He laughingly said “You can’t go. You have to wait an hour before you get in the water.” I’m sure he had heard that statement many times as a small boy.
“Don’t go outside in the winter with your hair wet, you’ll catch your death of cold.” “Don’t drink coffee, it will stunt your growth,” “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back,” “Don’t wear white shoes and carry a white purse after Labor Day,” and “Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident and have to go to the hospital,” are all statements many of us remember our moms saying.
Moms make a lasting impression on their children — most of them good and today is a good time to reflect on those times. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has been a longtime contributor to the Herald Democrat with her bi-weekly column, which appears in the Wednesday and Sunday editions. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.