We’ve all heard the usual “momisms” from our moms. Sayings like: “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Or “Keep frowning like that and your face will freeze.” Or the ever popular, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” But there are some unique lessons that my own mom may or may not have intended to teach me. In honor of her recent 88th birthday, I wanted to share them with you. And who knows…maybe you’ve learned the same lessons from your mom.
When traveling, always pack everything except the kitchen sink
I wouldn’t even try to count the number of times I heard the following exchange from my parents. Dad yelling at my mom, “What’re you doing? Taking everything but the kitchen sink? ‘Cmon…let’s go!” To which mom replied, “Well if it were up to you, you’d take just the clothes on your back and wouldn’t have any clean underwear if I didn’t pack them!” Oh the days of traveling as a child. For this reason, I tend to pack lighter than most women. Most of the time, at least. There are those trips, however, when I don’t follow my own rule of packing light and then I hear Dad’s voice in my head.
Don’t talk to strangers
First of all, this isn’t really something you have to tell a child who is already naturally shy. But Mom continued to give me that warning every day as I left for school. I would usually give her some kind of attitude, because I could pretty much repeat the warning back to her by the time I was in the third grade. Besides, no stranger had ever offered me a ride so there was nothing to worry about. Then one day there was the sweet, little old lady who stopped and asked if I wanted a ride. Following my mom’s instructions that were imprinted into my head, I declined. After all, I was only a half block from our house!
Paddles with rubber balls attached are not toys
One time I wanted one of those toys that was hanging in the store’s checkout lane for the sole purpose of enticing little ones like me. Mom kept telling me NO, but I wouldn’t have it. After a few minutes of begging, Mom finally gave in and said, “Okay, but if the ball breaks off the paddle, it’s mine.” In a moment of victory, I agreed. Never in my wildest dreams would I let her have it. But then it happened. In my carelessness, the rubber band got wrapped around the post of the swing set. Mom’s words haunted my young mind as panic and adrenaline coursed through my veins. I frantically began unwrapping the rubber band; because I knew if I wasn’t successful, that thin piece of wood one day would make contact with my backside. After all, I wasn’t all THAT perfect!
You’re never too old to be spanked
That’s right, folks! I discovered this lesson a few years ago. Even at 80+ years old, my mom threatened to put me over her knee and spank me. I am in my 40s! What could I ever do to deserve that kind of threat?! So in usual childlike fashion, I don’t remember what I did. However, a few minutes later I felt her hand forcefully smack my bottom as I was helping her turn the blankets down on her bed. When I turned and asked her what that was for she replied, “You were in just the right spot.” Apparently the saying is true, “No good deed goes unpunished!”
Never throw away egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls
I can see the wrinkles forming between your eyebrows with the question “why” rolling around in your brain. According to my mom, “You never know when the church may need them for crafts during Vacation Bible School or Sunday School.” Um…okay. But somehow I doubt they would ever make 100 waste baskets from egg cartons, 200 snakes out of toilet paper rolls, or 150 palm trees made with paper towel rolls. In case you’re wondering, this is NOT one of the lessons I follow.
Be generous when you share
This was a biggie. Whenever we would eat out at the only fast food place in town, Mom would never get fries. She didn’t need to when she could snitch off of everyone else. When we would ask her why she didn’t get her own fries, her response was, “I only wanted a few.” And yet half of our fries would disappear before we had a chance to eat a few ourselves. Candy bars were no exception either. “Can I have a bite?” Sure! What I learned quickly was that her “bite” looked more like a chunk that didn’t leave much for me. I suppose this was her way of teaching us to share, but I soon refused to give her a bite until I had eaten my own share. On the flip side, we had our own retribution and taught her the same lesson. She always had a Tupperware glass of either iced tea or water on the kitchen table. We turned it into a community glass. It was great satisfaction when we would hear, “Who drank my water?!” See, Mom, sharing goes both ways!
While these may not be “real” lessons my mom intended for us to learn, there are many others she has taught us by just being her and who she is. She’s a woman of few words these days, but her actions have always spoken louder than her words. Which is good since her words could get pretty loud when our full names were being called out from another room! There just isn’t enough space in a blog to share everything we learned from Mom, plus each one of us probably learned different things too. The moral of the lesson? Always listen to your mom!