Have You Repeated The Lies Our Mothers Told?
I know I repeated some of my mother’s favorite catch to my kids. It’s amazing how often we suddenly step back from life and realize we are beginning to repeat the lies our mothers told to our children too. In the ‘heat of the moment,’ our mother’s words seem to trip so easily off the end of our tongues:
1. Mommy will kiss it and make it all better.
Seriously? You think this really works? I’ll be the first to admit that behind these words lives every ounce of strength and love a woman possesses when her child is hurt. I adored my mother when she kissed my smashed fingers or kissed the tears away. It doesn’t mean it hurt any less. No, it simply was a reminder that my pain became her pain and she would have given anything to take it away.
2. Your children are going to give you back twice the trouble you’re giving me.
I’ll have to dispel the myth behind this too. My kids were fantastic. Sure, we had a few rough spots. Doesn’t everyone? For the most part, my kids created half the problems I did as a child.
3. Beggars can’t be choosers.
I don’t know about you, but there are still things that will never go in my mouth. I could be starving, and I wouldn’t touch certain things. Just the smell of some things cooking is enough to make me exit the area.
This one doesn’t just have to do with food. Most girls hate to think they have to wear last year’s fashions. It doesn’t matter whether it fits or not, you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in it. This is what backpacks are for. If your mom insists you have to wear it to school, make sure to wear a coat and jam whatever you really want to wear in the backpack. You can change when you get to school.
4. You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached.
Mom carried this one to the extreme. She stopped by or called three or four times a day after my first child was born to make certain I hadn’t put him down somewhere and forgotten where I left him. I’m happy to report I never lost either of my children. There certainly are some things we outgrow.
5. You can grow up to be anything you want.
Oh, how I wish this one could have been true. I was a GIRL growing up in the fifties and sixties. For those of you who came behind me, will I surprise you when I tell you my college counselor urged me to drop out after two years and not get a degree? She advised me that girls who had a four-year degree were over-qualified for the jobs available to women.
6. Wash your hands so the germs don’t make you sick.
I believed this one. My hands were raw from all the hand-washing. I was also told I had to give the baby a complete bath each day. The doctor finally told me I was killing the kid by washing him daily. Some germs are actually necessary to help you build an immune system.
7. Play nice or you can’t play at all.
Not fair! Boys outnumbered the girls in my neighborhood four to one. For what it’s worth, they tattle far more than girls do.
My complaint about this one is that the second word really should have been “Fair.” I always tried to be nice. It was that other piece of wisdom (Judge not lest ye be judged) that mom drummed into my head many times each day. I still hear myself repeat it anytime I want to say something a bit snarky. So yeah, you can use this one, but change the nice to fair.
8. Don’t stoop to her level.
We all heard this one, right? There’s a very fine line between what it takes to be part of the “In” group and what you need to do to not lose respect in yourself. Mostly, mom was right on this one. There were a few times, however, when being part of the popular kids was more important than being little “Miss Goody Two-Shoes.”
I was told by a girl I thought was a friend in college that this was everyone’s description of me behind my back. Alas, I thought my class was horribly boring. Thanks the this ‘friend’ I discovered that my class had all kinds of parties with drinking and smoking, but no one wanted to invite little “Miss Goody Two-Shoes.”
Looking back, I’m delighted mother made me think twice about my actions!
9. You can’t invite her over again until she invites you to her house.
That is not going to happen and it shouldn’t. My parent’s generation made a huge mistake when they started keeping track. If you enjoy someone’s company, invite them over anytime it’s convenient! Of all the lies our mothers told us, this one is based on an ‘eye for an eye’ and is not consistent with a loving and caring society.
10. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t doing something wrong. What matters is what the neighbors might think.
This one haunted me when I was growing up. This was the mantra in our house, and I hated it. Yes, it does matter that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. If the neighbors think they see something that isn’t there, that affects them, not me. I taught my children to do the right thing and to show respect. I changed this rule to something much simpler: “All I had to do when I was a kid, was to think of whether or not Grandpa Burton would approve of my actions.” That pretty much covered it.
11. Don’t eat the snow if it’s yellow.
That might have worked in the days before pesticides, herbicides, and everything else we put in the air, water, and ground. But, I’d have to tell my grandchildren not to eat the snow ever. If they want to know what it’s like, we can have some shaved ice.
12. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
If willing myself to escape the abuse would have worked, I’d have done it in a heart beat. What I can say about this one is that I always believed if I did just a bit better, the abuse would stop. Somehow, I was never good enough. No child should ever be allowed to feel that way about themselves. We need to concentrate on doing our best, but sometimes our best still won’t win the race. The winning is in doing our best, regardless of the outcome.
13. It’s bad luck to open the umbrella in the house.
This one was like a religion to my mother. What I can tell you for absolute certain is that this one is just plain stupid. It makes no sense. You can open an umbrella in the house, in the garage, in the car, or in the closet and it’s not going to change your day one bit.
14. Would you jump off the bridge because everyone else did?
Hmm, it depends on so many things!
15. Life isn’t fair.
Actually, I don’t think this one was all that far off…at least some days.
So, What Do We Do?
Our mothers shared the inspiration they learned from their mothers and so on, and so on. I’m sure you’ve heard most of these at some point from your mom too. They did it out of love. They did it to teach us how to live a respectable life.
I look around today and wonder if we sometimes protect our children too much. How can they learn if we don’t allow them to make some of the mistakes which will make the lessons really sink in.
When I look at the adults today who had parents who ‘fixed’ everything for them, I’m not very impressed. We need to teach the lessons, but when we go overboard in fixing things, we will create adults who have an attitude of entitlement. That’s not a pleasant personality to be around.
So, what are some of your favorite mom sayings?
Did they work for you?