Friday, March 17, 2006

Mama Always Said...

"Always wear clean underwear!" my mother admonished.

I think all moms of her generation gave out that same admonition to their daughters. Do you suppose that their mothers gave them this same advice? It may be an important part of hygiene to wear clean underwear, but to be truthful, I've never figured out why it was so important to have on clean underwear if you were in an accident!

No matter how far removed we are from childhood, most of us can readily recall the words of our mamas, whether it was silly or sound advice—or harsh criticism. I still remember some of the things my mother always said. I was listening—perhaps more than she thought I was.

"Never date someone you know you wouldn't want to marry," my mom advised. As a teen-ager, I listened half-heartedly to her advice. My mom thought that there wasn't any sense wasting time in relationships that had no future. She also knew it was too easy to make personal compromises if a relationship became comfortable. Furthermore, she believed there was a risk of marrying someone that you never even intended to get serious about.

Actually, my mother's advice was quite good. It gave me the courage to break up with someone that I dated in high school. I came to realized that this person was not someone that I would want to marry. Our ideals, goals, hopes, and dreams didn't match. Even though this was a difficult choice at the time, it was one of the many forks in the road of life in which I "took the road less traveled" and later was grateful for my choice.

As I raised my three children, I basically passed on the same philosophy. I don't know if I ever actually verbalized my mother's exact words, but I gave them the same general message. I was never in favor of dating just for the sake of having someone to date. It will be interesting for me to observe whether this same message will be imparted to their children.

"Learn by experience—someone else's." My mother often said these words. She believed that if we were observant of others and their experiences, we could avoid having to learn many of life's difficult lessons first hand. She wanted us to carefully observe the consequences that others experienced because of their poor choices, as well as their rewards for wise choices. What can I say? I definitely agree with this morsel of wisdom. In fact, I'm going to use this same advice as part of the introduction to a speech I'm preparing. Sharing some of my personal experiences may help others to avoid a few of life's potholes.

"Make your bed as soon as you get up."

"Do the dishes as soon as the meal is over."

I suppose there was nothing wrong with that advice. However, I have to admit I don't follow either one with any regularity. I've given up feeling guilty that I don't. Sometimes someone is still in my bed when I get up. It's unusually difficult to make a bed with a body in it! Even if there wasn't, it just isn't a priority for me.

The same is true with the dishes. From my perspective, doing them once a day is adequate. When I die, will anyone care one way or the other whether my bed was made every day and that my dishes were always done? Sorry, Mother, I’m not convinced!

What I am convinced of, however, is that the words mothers say to their children have a profound impact both positively and negatively. Somehow a mother's words are indelibly written on the hearts of her children. Long after childhood, her voice is still heard. Some spend years trying to quiet the voice of criticism and derision, while others find immense comfort and direction.

I wonder what words my children remember now that they are grown. What tape recordings of my voice do they hear? Hopefully, they will cast aside that which is not positive or helpful and keep only that which is a blessing and benefit to them.

It's been interesting for some of my "sayings" to come back to me as my children have attempted to encourage me. When I started college in my mid-forties, my youngest daughter used the exact phrases that I had often told her to help me with my trepidation. After she recited all of my advice back to me, she smiled and said, “You didn’t think I was listening, did you?”

As you think of your mother, what words do you hear? What advice do you remember? One friend of mine said that her mom was forever reminding her to make sure to keep the lace paper dollies straight when serving guests.

Regardless of what we remember, may we all be reminded of the need to weigh our words and the tone of our words carefully.

Proverbs 25:11. "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

(c) Marlene Depler

1 comment:

Kerri said...

I enjoyed reading this immensely.
I smiled a lot thinking of my mom. Her advise was much the same as your mom's. This was the admonition that came to mind first though..
"Stand up straight and hold your tummy in"
I still have bad posture in spite of Mum saying this so often. I see it in my youngest daughter and want to tell her the same thing :)
Sounds like your mom passed on a lot of wisdom to you. You listened well.
I totally agree about the bed and the dishes :) My mom was such a stickler for getting things done and sticking to a routine. I'm not so good at that but I get them done eventually :)