Things like, “If everybody jumped off a bridge, I suppose you would too?”, “You’ll put your eye out” (our first experience with gun control), those admonitions to don clean undergarments in case we had an unexpected encounter with paramedics, and yes, the ever-popular rationale that “won” every childhood argument: “Because I said so, that’s why.”
This week I asked readers to share their favorite ‘Mommy-ism’ – and, as you might expect, we got some wonderful contributions – and not nearly as much duplication as you might think.
Having said that, there were some common threads: “Wait till you father gets home” was common, as were variations on “your face will freeze that way,” and the ever-popular cautions about children in some far-off land wishing they could have just a bit of what was on your plate. There were a number that will bring back fond memories, I’m sure, such as:
“You’ll get nothing and like it!”
“Close that door; were you born in a barn?”
“I’ll give you something to cry about!”
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it.”
“After all these years it has to be ‘wherever you left it’ as the response to the question where’s my ?????”
“If it was a snake, it would’ve bit ya.”
“He won’t buy the cow if he can get the milk for free!”
“Who ever told you life was fair?”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
“When you grow up I hope you have a child just like you!”
“What is it about the word ‘no’ that you don’t understand?”
There were some new ones (to me, anyway):
“You’d complain if our ice cream was cold.”
“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!”
“You’re not the only turtle in this tank.”
And there were a couple of neat stories:
"My mom bought me two new shirts to wear to school. The next morning I got dressed and wore one of them. When I came down to breakfast, she said, 'So! The other one you didn't like?'"
"She had a habit of licking her thumb to clean grubby faces as we were ready to go into church, a store, etc. I once got her a Mother's Day card that said, 'I will always love you but...I will never forgive you for cleaning my face with spit.'"
"My mother was an unflappable mother of four who had a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. I had pulled out a pair of the 'underwear that time forgot' from the back of a bureau drawer. They were very hole-y, and the elastic was disintegrating. I showed them to my mother and asked her, 'Won't you feel awful if I get hit by a bus while wearing these?' She briefly surveyed them and went back to her task. Without missing a beat, she responded, 'They'll think the bus did it, dear.'"
"I once responded to my son's comment that everyone else got to do it with 'If all your friends jumped off the, would you do it too?' His answer: 'Well, I might as well. All my friends would be dead and without friends, life isn't really worth living, is it?'"
"Over 20 years ago, my mother was in a period between the radiation and chemotherapy treatments for the ovarian cancer that finally took her. Meanwhile, my father (now 77 and still going strong) needed a quintuple coronary bypass. Mom was driving tofrom their suburban home to see Dad in the hospital. While she hated his car, he had a new-fangled gadget that provided a lot of security for a woman of her compromised capabilities - one of the first cellular telephones. It was late December, and so Dad had his seat heaters set to 'broil.' Well, Mom found them very uncomfortable; what she COULDN'T find was the switch. She called my office and instructed the admin who graciously covered my phone (pre-voicemail!) to find me and deliver a message. Find me, she did â€¦ in my boss's office. Between giggles, she delivered my mother's exact message: 'Call your mother. She's in your father's car. Her a$$ is on fire.'"
One reader shared a lifetime of wisdom (and categorized it). Here's a sampling:
"My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE . * 'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. * I just finished * cleaning.'* *
My mother taught me RELIGION . * 'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.' * * *
My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL . * 'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of * next week!'*
My mother taught me LOGIC . * 'Because I said so, that's why.' * *
My mother taught me IRONY . * 'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'
My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS . * * 'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'
My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM . * 'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'
My mother taught me about STAMINA . * 'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.' * *
My mother taught me about WEATHER . * 'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'
My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY . * 'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. * Don't exaggerate!'
My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION . * 'Just wait until we get home.'
My mother taught me about RECEIVING . * 'You are going to get it when you get home!'
My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE . * 'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way.'
My mother taught me ESP . * 'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'
My mother taught me HUMOR . * 'When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'
My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT . * 'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'
My mother taught me GENETICS . * 'You're just like your father.'
My mother taught me WISDOM . * 'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'
My mother taught me about JUSTICE . * 'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.'"
One reader aptly noted that while their mother had said, "I've forgotten more than you'll ever know", that "After the PPA and 409A and its regulations, I think I've finally managed to learn more than she's forgotten!
And there was a sentiment that I'm sure most parents can relate to: " The scary thing is that now that I'm a mother I find myself saying all of the things that as I child I vowed I would never say to my children!"
But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who noted simply, "If mom's not happy, NOBODY is happy."
Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!
|1.||You'd complain if our ice cream was cold|
|2.||As a mother of two toddlers, my current favorite is: "BECAUSE I SAID SO!"|
|3.||1. No running by the pool 2. No running with scissors 3. No running with a lollypop in your mouth|
|4.||Here are a few: 1. Just wait until you have kids - then you will understand! 2. Life is all about making choices - please make the right ones! 3. You don't NEED it that bad - if you WANT it that bad, you will have to pay for it yourself. 4. Be smart and work hard!|
|5.||"You'll get nothing and like it!"|
|6.||Share or no one plays with it.|
|7.||Don't make that face because it might get stuck like that.|
|8.||Can't never could. Like it of lump it.|
|9.||You will have many best friends but with any luck only one mother...therefore if it works out that we are friends, that's nice but it isn't really my primary purpose.|
|10.||"You don't want that."|
|11.||"There is not a court in the land that would convict me if I killed you right now!!!!! This uttered after any time we made my Mother really mad!!|
|12.||"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." This has definately suppressed my assertive side of my personality.|
|13.||When you have kids of your own, you'll understand why Dad and I ...(fill in the blank with almost any point she wanted to get across)|
|14.||Nothing in this life lasts forever|
|15.||My mom bought me two new shirts to wear to school. The next morning I got dressed and wore one of them. When I came down to breakfast, she said, "So! The other one you didn't like?"|
|16.||My cup has a hole in it.|
|17.||Go ask your father.|
|18.||"I'm gonna change my name to sh** and every time you call it, I'm gonna slap you!" after I would call out "Mom!" countless times in a row in an effort to get her attention.|
|19.||Close that door, were you born in a barn? or Close that door, do you think we own stock in a heating company?|
|20.||On each of our birthdays, we got a phone call or in-person hug, kiss and the following statement: XX years ago today, I held you in my arms for the very first time.|
|21.||From a very young age my Mom always told me I was beautiful and I could do anything I wanted with my life. Although I'm sure every mother tells their daughter that, I think it really helped instill self-confidence in all aspects of my life. She was (and is) always very encouraging and supportive!|
|22.||If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about!|
|23.||"If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all."|
|24.||When I complained about going out into the rain, Mom said "Don't worry son, you won't melt, you are not made of sugar".|
|25.||"I'll shake you until your teeth rattle!"|
|26.||Don't look at me in that tone of voice!|
|27.||"Treat everyone like you would want to be treated". "If you cannot say something good about someone, do not bother saying anything at all."|
|28.||Trademarked by my mother... Are you really going to (wash the car, take out the trash, walk the dog, mow the grass, fill in the blank) with no lipstick on?|
|29.||My favorite was always "I brought you into this world, I can take you out" (probably not popular in the overly-crazed PC world of today)|
|30.||Money doesn't grow on trees|
|31.||Wait until your Father gets home!|
|32.||Because I said so. I find myself using it more that I ever hoped I would. I guess it goes along with the most common question my kids ask me whenever I tell them to do something - Why?|
|33.||Just wait until your dad gets home.|
|34.||Wait until your father gets home!!|
|35.||My mother imparted tons of common sense on us as we grew and still does today. The funniest thing was not a saying it was an action. She had a habit of licking her thumb to clean grubby faces as we were ready to go into church, a store, etc. I once got her a Mother's Day card that said "I will always love you but...I will never forgive you for cleaning my face with spit." Today I find myself using that same emergency cleaning technique from time to time.|
|36.||"If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."|
|37.||* 1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE. * "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. * I just finished * cleaning." * * 2. My mother taught me RELIGION. * "You better pray that will come out of the carpet." * * * 3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. * "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of * next week!" * * 4. My mother taught me LOGIC. * " Because I said so, that's why." * * 5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC. * "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going * to the store with me." * * 6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. * "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident." * * 7. My mother taught me IRONY. * "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about." * * * * 8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS. * * "Shut your mouth and eat your supper." * * 9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM. * "Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!" * * 10. My mother taught me about STAMINA. * "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone." * * 11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. * "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it." * * 12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY. * "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. * Don't exaggerate!" * * 13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE. * "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out." * * * * 14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION. * * "Stop acting like your father!" * * 15. My mother taught me about ENVY. * "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't * have wonderful parents like you do." * * 16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. * "Just wait until we get home." * * * * 17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING. * "You are going to get it when you get home!" * * 18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE. * "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck * that way." * * * * 19. My mother taught me ESP. * "Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?" * * 20. My mother taught me HUMOR. * "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me." * * 21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT. * "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up." ! * * 22. My mother taught me GENETICS. * "You're just like your father." * * 23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS. * "Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?" * * 24. My mother taught me WISDOM. * "When you get to be my age, you'll understand." * * And my favorite: * 25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE. * "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you" * *|
|38.||I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it.|
|39.||I brought you into this would and I can take you out!|
|40.||Finish your food - there are starving children in India.|
|41.||Just when we thought we outsmarted her by doing something that we didn't think she pick up on, she'd say, "I've been there - and back!"|
|42.||"Just remember no matter what you do I'll always know about it."|
|43.||If you don't improve your grades, you'll have to go to the community college.|
|44.||My Grandma always said: "If Momma ain't happy - ain't nobody happy!!!" Truly words to live by...|
|45.||Don't sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.|
|46.||He won't buy the cow if he can get the milk for free!|
|47.||After all these years it has to be "where ever you left it" as the response to the question where's my ?????|
|48.||"Do you want your face to stay like that forever??"|
|49.||If I wasn't here to tell you where you left it, where would you look?|
|50.||My Mom had 1 and my Grandmother had 1 --- Mom - I don't want to rush you, but you'd better hurry, hurry. Grandma --- it was a song --- there may be fortunes waiting, there may be debts to pay; so, get up, get up and meet the sun halfway! She sang it every day of my life from the time I was 2 or 3 until she couldn't any longer, and I was 16!|
|51.||If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.|
|52.||Never get into a fight with a skunk, because no matter who wins, you both come out stinking.|
|53.||"You have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me."|
|54.||Don't quit your job until you have another one.|
|55.||I don't know if this counts as a "mommy-ism" but a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my life is "Who ever told you life was fair?". I guess it's all about your expectations.|
|56.||When given a task you didn't want to do, like cleaning your room... "If you'd just do it, instead of complaining about it, you'd be done by now!!"|
|57.||I grew up with an older brother and a younger brother. If the three of us were not behaving we always knew when mom had reached her tolerance level. We'd hear her say, "You just wait until your father gets home."|
|58.||This too shall pass.|
|59.||That's easy - and it was both from Mom and Dad. Being the oldest (by 10 months) of 4 girls, I constantly heard, "Yes, but you are older - you should know better". I vowed never to say that to my own children but unfortunatley have already broken that vow!|
|60.||I always recall, with great humility, the day I informed my eldest son, who was now towering over my 5 ft 2 1/2 inch frame, "You may be taller than me, but you'll NEVER get to be older than me" with obvious results, of course!|
|61.||Two wrongs don't make it right. There is a time and place for everything, and now is not the time and this is not the place.|
|62.||One day you'll see what I mean....You'll see.|
|63.||"Look with your eyes and not your mouth"|
|64.||Here are my favorites from Mom! "Do what you can in the space that you're in and no one can blame you for trying." "Two wrongs don't make a right." "1, 2, 3..." - just counting in the right tone gets the kids to do what you need them to do When it's raining and you don't have an umbrella - "It's OK, you're not made of sugar, you won't melt!" "Shape up or Ship Out" When the kids are continually asking for money, "Do you think money grows on trees?" or "Do you think I'm made of money?" "If you can't be good, be careful."|
|65.||It's better to owe you than cheat you.|
|66.||My mother was an unflappable mother of four who had a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. I had pulled out a pair of the "underwear that time forgot" from the back of a bureau drawer. They were very hole-y, and the elastic was disintegrating. I showed them to my mother and asked her, "Won't you feel awful if I get hit by a bus while wearing these?" She briefly surveyed them and went back to her task. Without missing a beat, she responded, "They'll think the bus did it, dear."|
|67.||Some of my Mother's favorite sayings are "Nothing is more permenant than a temporary thing!" Plus the ever popular "Everything goes with white!|
|68.||"Do whatever you want" (that is if you enjoy breaking your mother's heart, can handle the guilt and intend to throw your life away). Its briliant, a threat disquised as permission; simultaneously acknowledging and denying the child's free will; a total catch 22.|
|69.||My favority Mommh-ism is a version of the "Because I said so...." My Mother just said: "I don't need a reason."|
|70.||"Don't drive faster than you can afford."|
|71.||I've forgotten more than you'll ever know.|
|72.||When you grow up I hope you have a child just like you!|
|73.||'Stop that - you'll break your neck.'|
|74.||My mom always said "Have the courage of your convictions" which is inspirational...alternatively, when we tried to pull something over on her, she would say "Do I look like I have jackass printed across my forehead." Less inspirational and as a kid, I could picture this and I thought it was just hysterical. It may explain my sense of humor as an adult.|
|75.||Do as I say, not as I do"...... or clean your plate/the hungry children in China|
|76.||My mother said: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. What I tell my daughters: Girls can do anything boys can do, AND have babies.|
|77.||When you're getting a spanking and mommy declares "this hurts me more than it hurts you"--that logic is completely lost on a 6 year old!|
|78.||You'll get more from others with honey than with vinegar. Always remember you can tell me the truth.|
|79.||The answer to the question "What are you doing?" when it was perfectly obvious what she was doing, was always "Sewing buttons on ice cream."|
|80.||The mother's curse, "I hope one day you have a child who ...(fill in your favorite trait).|
|81.||Insanity is heriditary. You get it from your children.|
|82.||"If you break your neck, don't come running to me!"|
|83.||Put your right arm over your left shoulder and your left arm over your right shoulder and give yourself a hug from me.|
|84.||Wait 'till your father gets home!|
|85.||He always spoke highly of you!!|
|86.||Because I said so, that's why|
|87.||If mom's not happy NOBODY is happy.|
|88.||"When you're late, you're telling everyone that you think your time is more important than their time."|
|89.||"Only the boring are bored."|
|90.||"I have eyes in the back of my head."|
|91.||I hope you have a daughter that grows up just like you.|
|92.||I don't see any blood, so your aren't hurt. and If you aren't throwing up or running a temperature, you aren't sick, go to school.|
|93.||It has to be "Because I'm your mother, that's why."|
|94.||Oh, it's got to by my s.ex education speach - and I quote "Don't do it, because once you do, you will never want to stop." That was it. Thank goodness for public school health class.|
|95.||Ay yi yi....I'll have to think on that one. I guess it's probably the "When I was your age..." (or any variant thereof). Generally the story would focus on how (a) they had one car, and she never got to drive it or (b), she never got any presents at Christmas except a new outfit for her doll, or (c) she shared one bedroom with her three sisters or (d) she walked numerous miles to school every day (and it was somehow uphill both ways).|
|96.||"I'll give you something to cry about if you want to keep crying."|
Your eyes look like two burned holes in a blanket!
I 've forgotten more than you'll ever know. After the PPA and 409A and its regulations, I think I've finally managed to learn more than she's forgotten!
I'm late, but I always liked, "if you make your bed the whole room looks cleaner".
The funniest mommy-ism (contributing to my fear of spiders) was "if you keep your hair up in a ponytail every day without combing your hair, a big spider will spin a web under there and bite you."
I'm not sure that this quite qualifies as a "Mommy-ism", but does illustrate one woman's approach to teaching her children skills that are valuable in our personal lives, as well as in our careers.
Over 20 years ago, my mother was in a period between the radiation and chemotherapy treatments for the ovarian cancer that finally took her. Meanwhile, my father (now 77 and still going strong) needed a quintuple coronary bypass. Mom was driving to Boston from their suburban home to see Dad in the hospital. While she hated his car, he had a new-fangled gadget that provided a lot of security for a woman of her compromised capabilities - one of the first cellular telephones.
It was late December, and so Dad had his seat heaters set to "broil". Well, Mom found them very uncomfortable; what she COULDN'T find was the switch. She called my office and instructed the admin who graciously covered my phone (pre-voicemail!) to find me and deliver a message. Find me, she did â€¦ in my boss's office. Between giggles, she delivered my mother's exact message: "Call your mother. She's in your father's car. Her a$$ is on fire."
Mom always valued clear, direct communication, and this was no exception. Her teachings -- and her irreverent approach -- have served me well throughout my career.
Whenever I would say I was too sick to go to school, with no obvious symptoms, my mother would tell me that I had to go anyway. She said that if I was that sick, they'd call her to come get me.
What is it about the word "no" that you don't understand?
With six siblings running around the house, and not much in monetary resources to buy the latest clothes, toys, etc., the common one we heard most was "Yea, and people in hell want ice water."
My wife's favorite to use with our kids whenever she was not responding to their demands fast enough was, "You're not the only turtle in this tank". I think you have to be from the old south to understand that one, since most people I use it on now look at me with a very quizzical stare.
Spoken when I was frantically hunting for something right in front of me: "If it was a snake, it would've bit ya." I learned this one well, and now use it on my wife!
Mine isn't really a mommy-ism; it's my teenage son's response to one.
Though I swore I wouldn't say things like that, I once responded to my son's comment that everyone else go to do it with "If all your friends jumped off the Empire State Building, would you do it too?"
His answer:"Well, I might as well. All my friends would be dead and without friends, life isn't really worth living, is it?"
On second thought, I do have some favorite mommy-isms:
"Someday, you'll have kids of your own."
"I'd take every one of you teenagers and trade you in for 10 toddlers and feel like I came out ahead on the deal." which was saying something because she had 12 kids. (Of course, she didn't say it to me. It was to my brothers)
What a fun reminder.
As a mother of three grown daughters, my favorite saying was "If we don't clean, the bugs will come". My youngest daughter, a teenager at the time, was not a believer. One day, I heard her screaming in her bedroom. I arrived to see thousands of black ants surrounding sugary treats on the floor of her room. Result: a neat room!
Quit making faces or your face will freeze like that permanently.
As the mother of a three-year-old, I am facing the endless string of "whys". I have learned that "Because that's the way God made it" is the answer most likely to STOP the interrogation. (Though I usually try to explain things, there's only so far you can go down the chain before you run out of things to say...) 🙂 Another good one for older kids is: "Unless someone is bleeding or on fire, I don't want to hear about it." (Gee, my mom said that a lot...)
This is probably the top 3 of important "Mother says"...that my friends and I gathered uding the summer when our kids were little and we were gathered at the swimming pool watching our kids frolic. For some reason, they always had something to do with running. Mostly, I think it was becasue our kids were always running when they weren't in the pool.
My mom had 3 kids, worked full-time and always had an abundance of energy. It was impossible to be lazy around her and complaining got you nowhere. She's 71 and hasn't changed a bit. I can only hope its in the genes.
I had a collegue that said "raising boys was easy--nothing a chainsaw and a cattle prod couldn't handle!!
My Mom loves coffee so when she wanted another cup she would look at one of kids & tell us her cup had a hole in it so we would fix it with another cup. It is nice to know that I continue now with the same tradition with my own children.