I must have been taking too long in the bathroom. I don’t think I was making audible noises but may have been. Regardless, mothers have a way of sensing when something is wrong.
“Turn on the faucet, it will help you go!” Mom hollered through the closed door. My mom was a nurse so she should know, right? I immediately turned on the faucet full blast. I never considered questioning how the sound of gushing water in the sink might trigger the release of something inside my bowels.
Although the first time I heard this advice from Mom was probably more than 40 years ago, I continue to apply her words of wisdom at the appropriate times in my life. I’ve never checked the medical journals to see if there have been studies to prove or disprove her cure for common constipation. All I know is that it must work. The other day I found myself hollering through the bathroom door to my sighing husband, “Turn on the faucet, it will help you go.”
My dear, sweet mother used to repeat this poem to me when I didn’t finish something or did it half way. She now is 92 years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s. What I would give to hear her say this once more!
“If a task is once begun
“Never leave it till it’s done
“Be the labor, great or small
“Do it well or not at all!”
Though I was what could be described as a harmless kid, my mother always used to say that if I didn’t shape up she would send me to boarding school. And so she did … Boarding school. Military boarding school. Catholic military boarding school. At age 12.
Michael F. d’Amico
I have several pieces of advice from my mom that I live by every day!
1) If you ever write a book, leave that chapter out!
2) God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason!
3) The less said, the better.
4) If someone continually mistreats you, get yourself away from them.
5) If you smell trouble, go the other way.
“Never write down anything that you don’t want everybody to see.”
This advice was given to me by my mother in the 1940s when we girls would write silly little notes to each other and then be hurt because they would get passed around. Who would have known how much more powerful this advice would be in the age of texting and Twitter.
I tell my young adults now, since they are no longer at home, “I brought you into this world and I can take you right back out of it.” They get the message, then they laugh.
Whenever we would be doing something in the kitchen, such as pouring a glass of milk, our mom would always tell us to “Do that above the sink!”
The wisest advice given to me by my mother was in Hungarian … “Listen to what I have to say, because if you don’t I will give you a neck soup.”
The term “neck soup” actually meant a slap on the back of one’s head. … After one experience of actually receiving the promised gift, she seldom ever had to donate more than one.
It proved to be an effective tool! And incidences were seldom repeated.
My parents came from Hungary in 1907. While Dad did become bilingual to a degree, Mom only learned to understand some English, but never spoke it. Of course we youngsters learned both languages, so we never had any trouble knowing what she meant!
My parents weren’t brutal, but if it became necessary to emphasize a message regarding behavior and we seemed to have trouble learning the message, well, a physical action delivered one time provided the recipient with a lasting message!
I had four siblings and they also all learned the message quickly.
“Big George” Madaras
My mom, who passed away two months short of her 100th birthday. One thing I remember saying more than once was: “What do you mean, remember the good ol’ days? These are the good ol’ days.’
My mother, Marie Schoen, said “Just do it” long before Nike did. Too bad she didn’t copyright it. She might have made millions.
My mother, Maryellen Barrett, who is from Stow, would tell you that except for minor viruses, she wasn’t sick a day in her life, until at age 80 when she had her first surgery for lung cancer. She is now a survivor of several years and still going strong. She is on only a couple of medications and she looks like she is in her late 60s, goes dancing, travels and exercises regularly.
Her advice to her five children when we were growing up? “Take two aspirin and keep moving!”
My mother offered a lot of good advice over the years, but not much of it was very entertaining. The most memorable “Momism” didn’t really qualify as advice, unless you consider her words as advising me to get off of my rear end and do some work.
Mom prefaced almost every demand for help with the words, “Would you like to…?” Common chores were introduced not as requests, but as a helpful suggestion of possible activities that might brighten up my day, such as, “Would you like to take out the trash?” “Would you like to mow the lawn?” Or “Would you like to help with the dishes?”
These suggestions often sounded like good ideas to me, sometimes because I didn’t really mind doing them in the days before video games and 24/7 electronics gave children so much more to do, but mostly because I knew that Mom’s suggestions could morph into trouble if I didn’t get moving.
I am 60 now but always remember how Mom, when she wanted to be silly at bedtime, would wish us good night. She would say: “Sleep with your eyes shut.”
I have told this to lots of my friends and future family members who love it. And I am particularly touched when my partner wishes me good night this way.
Louise M. Guenther
This is old but it has stuck with me for over 75 years. “Never run with scissors, walk with scissors points down.” Every time I pick up a pair, I still make sure points are down.
Of course I heard the “clean underwear” advice. Funny, I was in a car accident over 60 years ago and while being taken to the hospital for stitches, my first worry was my underwear. Never mind my stitches were mostly to my face.
My mom, Susan Augustine of Akron, always reminded me: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Who cares if my son wants to wear a pirate costume to the store?
My Mother was ahead of her time with nutrition, I am 77 and my dear mother is gone. Her favorite saying was, “I don’t care if you don’t eat for the rest of the day but you will eat a good breakfast.”
Breakfast was always good — fresh squeezed orange juice, cut-up fruit, fried potatoes with a scrambled egg on top, French toast and even waffles made with an old-fashioned waffle iron.
One morning, I came down to breakfast to see her cradling a can of V-8 juice in her lap. She quizzed me to see if I could identify all of the vegetables in the juice.
Lunches and suppers were always wonderful, too. There were hot summer days when ice tea was cooling in a water bath in the sink and banana cream pie was sitting on the counter. There were five of us and we always sat down to meals together.
Marilyn Sammon Dlugos
One of my mother’s favorite sayings and advice to me and my sister was “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
She lived her advice. She was such a sweet, kind lady. She died a year ago at 98 and I miss her dearly.
If someone started going on about themselves, how smart they were, how much they knew, who they knew, she would mutter to me: “I forgot more than they know.”
Of course she knew it would crack me up. Which it did.
Believe half of what you hear.
Take the other half with a pinch of salt.
Don’t talk with your mouth full.
Let go, let God.
Don’t fret, 100 years from now it won’t matter.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.
Never put down in writing what you didn’t want repeated.
Don’t put all your apples in the same cart.
One good friend is better than 100 fair weather friends.
Loose lips sink ships.
Save your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Don’t make faces; if the wind changes it will stay that way.
Waste not, want not.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Listen and learn.
You affect everyone you come in contact with to some extent.
I was fortunate to grow up on lakefront property in Portage Lakes. We owned a canoe, but I was always too young to take it out with my girlfriends. Of course I begged to take it out with all the life-saving equipment.
At last, she consented saying, “All right take the canoe out! But if you drown, don’t come crying to me.”
As a senior now I still laugh at the memory and remember all my years, and the fun of the canoe on wonderful North Reservoir.
Carol Shrock Derry
I remember my mother saying “what you dish out in your life will come back to you” or “what goes around comes back to you.”
That’s why I always try to be good to people I meet along life’s way.
My mother told me when I was a teenager to be wary of persons paying compliments. Some people are really envious and do not mean it, and hope you have misfortunes.
She told me the story of a woman in her hometown who has a beautiful vegetable garden. The next door neighbor commented to her that she had never seen such a healthy looking crop of vegetables. The next day the total crop died. The neighbor was really envious.
Mother told me that when paying compliments on health, looks, cars and other things, make sure you are sincere and always wish the best of luck.
No name given
My mom used to say: “If you sew on Sunday, you will take every stitch out when you die.” And she used to yell, “Close the door! Were you born in a barn?’
After numerous attempts to get what we wanted, my mother would finally say, “Go ask your father.”
My mother is 85 years old and she has had many sayings through the years. Here are a few:
Because I said so.
Mind your P’s and Q’s.
If everyone jumped off the bridge, would you jump too?
Be a leader, not a follower.
Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.
Wear clean underwear in case you would go to the hospital or you were in an accident.
Never go out alone.
Make sure to lock your door.
Make sure you have your keys.
Make sure all lights are off.
You can lead a horse to water but you can not make him drink it.
Mother knows best.
Do not count your chickens until they are all hatched.
My mom told me when I had children that it was OK to raise a child by the book, but you had to write a new book for each child.
I will soon be 86 years old, but still remember and try to “Keep your wits about you” — my mother’s favorite adage. It’s old, but such good advice.
Mae Rue Hitchison
My mother would say to each of we 14 children each and every day, “You have Kentucky Blue Blood in you,” as she and my father were born and raised in Lexington, Ky. Also, “birds of a feather, flock together.’
Ruth A. Shepherd-Fuetter
My mother was born in 1905 in Hail, Ky., a few miles south of Somerset. She grew up with the southern culture which includes numerous colloquialisms. Most of what she spoke was using these. Although she has been gone for 35 years, these are still a very big part of my memories of her.
Two of these I remember specifically and have used them myself with my family. The first one is, “Live over it or die under it.” This really embodies most of our lives. If you think about it, that is exactly what is going to happen to you. Even though there are many aspects in how you do this, it still results in the same thing: living or dying.
The second one is, “You have the same clothes on to get glad in that you got mad in.” This is one that really affects most of our relationships. Most of us at some point in time have an argument with family and/or friends. We can hold on to the anger and not get over it or we can simply let it go. This letting go leads to her philosophy of life: forgiveness.
My mom was a very religious woman and believed the Bible and often quoted it to us. The Bible tells us to forgive “seventy times seventy.” But my mom added to that. Forgiveness is very difficult. Yet if we hold on to the hurt, we will not be able to move forward with our lives. So just forget about what happened and forgive the person. Asking for forgiveness is even harder. It implies we were wrong and that is hard for most people to do. Yet again, if we do not ask for forgiveness from the person whom we hurt, it makes for a very difficult relationship and may even end the relationship. Forgiving yourself is even harder. Still, we will not move forward and life will not be very enjoyable without that forgiveness.
As I have entered the later years of my life, I realize just how wise my mother was in her “momisms” as you have labeled them. They have allowed me to let go of many old hurts and moved forward with my life. Heading into the twilight years requires a sense of closure to be ready for death which is much closer in the later years than early years. Life is so much more enjoyable when you are not worrying about your relationships and focus on the present.
Sage advice from my mother that I hope my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will appreciate from me as they get older.
Mother’s Day is about grandmothers, too. My grandmother was an Italian immigrant straight off the boat who never got accustomed to the hustle and bustle of American life. One day, as my grandfather was driving us to a place I couldn’t wait to get to, we caught every light red. “Ugh!” I groaned as we stopped for the fourth time. “I hate red lights!”
“Ooh, I love red lights,” Grandma said.
“Grandma,” I gasped, “how could you possible love red lights?”
“They good for you,” she replied.
“Well,” she said, “you drive a little, then you rest a little. Drive a little … rest a little. It’s a nice that way.”
And now, 50 years later, whenever I catch a red light, I think it’s just my chance to rest a little.
My mother and I have faith but she still always said, “Worry about everything, because what you worry about never happens.” She was right.
My mother said a lot of things, but I was only 14 when she died, and now I’m 67. I’ve forgotten some of her words of wisdom. There was one thing though that echoes in my head. When we didn’t have something to complete a task of some kind, she’d say, “Well, we’ll just have to make do.”
Usually, that meant a bit of disappointment but as I’ve gotten older, I admire the MacGyver in my mother, the willingness to forge ahead into the unknown and to use her ingenuity. Everything usually worked out pretty well. Of course, we’re talking about a household that didn’t own a stapler, a whisk, paperclips or a blender. There was usually an opportunity to “make do” fairly often. It didn’t mire her down or bother her too much, this woman who survived the Depression years with three little kids and then added two more many years later. A crisis to her was high stakes — like putting food on a table in 1930 — not a small do-it-yourself situation.
I’ve caught myself in the past several years or so saying to my granddaughter, “Well, we’ll just have to figure something out.” She gives me that hopeful look, the one I probably gave my mother, the look that signifies trust and promise. At that moment the generations link.
Looking back to childhood, I remember avocado seeds rooting in a glass on the windowsill, flagstone steps leading from the front porch to the driveway, scores of ornamental trees and shrubs, an arbor covered with roses, a front yard dotted with daffodils and narcissus, handmade dresses and a mother’s love. A mother who treated others so kindly, so well. She was great at making do.
“Dare to be different.”
I was a young mother with two young sons and my mom, as mothers often do, would give me advice on child-rearing. Sometimes her advice was well received and at other times not. On one occasion when she was delivering some not-well-received bits of advice she told me something that has stayed with me over the years.
“I believe that as your mom, it is my responsibility, to give you advice, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not you take my advice.”
I realized she was not attached to me following what she suggested, but just felt that as my mom she should pass on things that had worked for her in raising my sister and me. I realized all advice given was because she loved me and needed to tell me something she thought was important, but it was all right with her if I disregarded her advice.
I lost my mom too soon. I was pregnant with my third son when her car was hit by a young man when he ran a stop sign. He had been drinking and racing another car. I wish she could have been around to impart more of her wisdom as my three boys grew into adulthood, whether I followed it or not.
Elizabeth A. Ryan
My mother, Josephine Fundoots, was the perfect role model for me; strong, independent, smart, savvy, competent, proud and wise. She passed away last year at 99½ so I couldn’t fit all of her wisdom in 300 words or less!
She was a big believer in protocol; there was a certain way to act in certain situations.
For instance, “You always offer your guests food and drinks” (even if you don’t like them … they are your guests).
“You never cross your legs in church.”
She believed that no matter how poor you were, that was no excuse for not being clean … “soap is cheap.” And believe me, she knew “poor” way too well. That’s probably why she put so much stock into her appearance. Her makeup was perfect and so was her hair … every single day. Her immaculate clothes were always pressed, no matter how much she paid for them.
“You always wear the right clothes for the situation.”
“You never wear a coat that doesn’t cover your hemline.”
“Always look your best — no one needs to know how you feel.”
“You’re not wearing that out, are you?”
She took great care of her possessions and chose them carefully. She was not sentimental about most possessions, though; when their time was up, out they go. If you need them again, go out and buy new — that stimulates the American economy.
“Go ahead and buy that — nothing goes to waste.”
She was a big believer in higher education, probably because she didn’t have the opportunity.
“No one can ever take your education away from you.”
She was political, always supporting the candidates that support the working class. She loved the voting process and tried to never miss an election.
“If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain!”
She loved working with the League of Women Voters because it promoted solidarity among women and gave them a voice. She strove to champion the causes of women.
“Be financially independent, don’t depend on anyone but yourself; then you don’t have to take crap off of anyone.”
Which leads to her big push of: ALWAYS have a job; not just for the money but for the JOB! Any job should bring you pride. The money you make at McDonald’s is the same color as the money you make anywhere else!
And speaking of jobs, you should always have one, she’d say. Never retire! And she tried very hard to never retire — working full time until she was just shy of 92. In 2004, she received the Experience Works Pennsylvania Senior Employee of the Year Award. She was so proud and rightfully so.
“A mistake is only a mistake if it’s not a lesson learned.”
“No one is better than you are.”
My mom, Betty Pinder, has a few “momisms.” As a small child, I loved making faces, the uglier, the better. I can still hear her saying, “your face is going to freeze like that.”
Another of these expressions, which I have occasionally borrowed as a mom myself is, “put an egg in your shoe and beat it!” I think she lovingly said this when perhaps I had been her shadow for too many hours in a day.
As an adolescent and continuing into my adulthood, my mom would hand me an article from the Akron Beacon Journal. Her direction was always, “Read this — start to finish.”
Beverly (Pinder) Rodeheffer
I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Because I said so!” I also heard the following:
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
“I brought you in this world and I can take you out.”
“Don’t make life harder on yourself than it already is.”
“As long as you live in my house, you follow my rules.”
“I can’t wait to you get grown too and leave.”
Whenever I wanted to do something that my friends were allowed to do, or if they didn’t get punishment or whipped for doing wrong, I would hear this: “If they can do any and everything they want to and their parents don’t discipline them, that means they don’t really love them.”
This didn’t matter to me then of course, but as the years went by, I understood it more and more (thank God the adults in my life loved me) — and they showed me that as often as it took.
I was a strong-willed child.
My mom, Carol Dean, is a short woman, so when she would get mad at me she used to say “that’s why God made stepladders, so I can smack that mouth of yours!” Obviously old school discipline!
My mom’s favorite was “I hope someday you have children and they treat you just the way you treat me!’
My Mom nor my aunt would not let my brothers and I leave the house in the morning without eating breakfast. “Breakfast is the fuel that gets you going in the morning,” they would say.
I don’t get headaches now because when I would tell my mom I had a headache to try and stay home from school, she told me I was too young to know what a headache was.
When I was 18, to my surprise, I saw a mouse in my living room, which startled me because she told me mice couldn’t walk on carpet.
Wise words are never forgotten. Throughout her 86 years, my mother offered positive words of advice and lived by them, such as the legendary “Get up, get moving, you’ll feel better.” She offered this advice on the days when we were too lazy to get out of bed, dwelling in our own self-pity, facing tough decisions and even the mornings when we were sick with a cold or other minor illness. This simple phrase taught us to be responsible and face our challenges.
My mother passed away in March 2010 after dealing with Parkinson’s disease for 18 years. Although the average life expectancy is 10 years, my mother not only almost doubled the statistic, but was as active as she could be until the last six months of her life. Parkinson’s was her challenge that she faced with great determination. She did everything in her power to ensure that she was able to “get up, get moving” so she could “feel better.” Her self-sufficiency in the midst of a terrible disease continues to inspire me as I raise my children and share with them her words of wisdom.
I am a Libra and like to have everything balanced and fair as it should be. When I would go to my mom upset about a situation that had happened that was not fair, she would always reply “Life is not fair,” and I thought that was a “because I said so” comment — one that was to stop the drama of the moment. I would believe that things could be fair and she was just being mean.
Now that I am grown I have found that unfortunately it’s a very accurate statement.
I wrote this as a free verse poem some time back:
On that earthquake day when she stopped
to say she’d failed the mammogram and was now
waiting to get on the surgeon’s schedule for a biopsy,
she looked at me with teary eyes, eyes I’ve known
longer than any on earth, eyes that could not see
the future to know but clearly somehow knew
she would fail the biopsy, too, and said,
“It looks like you need to use your ChapStick.”
Mom’s favorite, if not most used saying was, “If stands in the corner stiff!” Whenever any of her children would toss out an “if” statement, she would promptly respond with this classic one-liner. When I attempted to influence mom’s decision with one of my silly “if” statements, she was ready with her standard comeback. For example, Judith said, “If you buy me Barbie’s best friend, Midge, I’ll be really, REALLY good!” Mom replied, “If stands in the corner stiff!” Judith said, “If you raise my allowance, I’ll do a better job cleaning.” Mom replied, “If stands in the corner stiff!” Judith said, “If you let me have a sleep over tonight, I’ll help mow tomorrow.” Mom replied, “If stands in the corner stiff!” Do you see a pattern developing here?
All mothers know that children like to throw around lots of “if” statements. Further, they know the “if” statement frequently isn’t backed by action. These cause and effect declarations sound good, but often the promises on the back end go unfulfilled. Parents realize that they have to teach their children the importance of following through on actions or their words become empty promises or useless noise. Both of which would nicely fit alongside the word “if,” standing stiffly in some dusty corner.
Nobody wants to see their children grow up to be irresponsible adults making meaningless promises to their friends, employers, future spouses; i.e., “If you love me, then you’ll do…” or “If you do this, then I’ll do that.” In the long run, children catch on to the fact that actions speak louder than words, talk is cheap, and they need to put legs to their words. It’s amazing how these timeless clichés often link together, singing the same refrain over and over again.