Momma said…


“Remember your home training.”

You know what it means and you know who said it.  In fact, if you’ll close your eyes and be still for just a minute, you can hear her say it even now.

I enjoy idioms – those clever collections of words that may result in directives or descriptions.  So just for fun this week, I asked friends and co-workers, “What is something your mother or grandmother said to you as you were growing up that you have not forgotten?”

My mom often said, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”  Well, that has been a cloud over my head all my life.  Start to do a little something I probably shouldn’t and it’s like a hand comes out of the cloud and taps my shoulder.  This saying, I might add, has had the intended effect.  Mom would be happy with the results.

“You are old enough for your wants not to hurt you.”   Sandy’s mother said this, as did my husband’s.  Frankly, it IS a little painful to reach the age when you are expected to accept disappointments with some level of maturity.  This one goes hand in hand with Sandy’s other contribution from her mother:  “Life isn’t fair.”  Another bitter verbal pill, but one we have to swallow throughout our lives since life has yet to be fair all the time.  Which one has Sandy passed on to her children?  “Life isn’t fair.”

The appearance theme followed behavior.  “Never leave the house looking like a can of kraut.”  I had never heard this one, but Natalie hears it in her head every day, especially on Saturday when she doesn’t have (or want) to dress for work.  However, there’s something about kraut that makes me think of smell more so than dress.  Not a good combination.  Speaking of dress, didn’t most moms warn about not leaving the house wearing less than your best underwear?  The day you went out with a tear or hole would be the day you had a car wreck and someone else, presumably hospital or emergency personnel, would see your holey underwear, to your everlasting shame.

Donnie’s mother gave her a little mystery to ponder.  “Every goodbye is not gone; every shut eye is not asleep; and everything that glitters is not gold.”  Even though she could repeat this from a young age, “it was not until I was grown that I really understood what she meant.”

We had more laughs sharing the “what they didn’t say” expressions.  “Don’t get caught behind the barn,” was what Bernadette’s grandmother said to her.  Bernadette wondered for years what her grandmother was talking about, because they didn’t have a barn.  Back then no one would warn a girl not to get pregnant by actually using the “p” word – it just wasn’t spoken aloud.  When Berndette’s uncle would get dressed up and leave the house for an evening on the town, her grandmother knew he was dressed with the hope of success.  She’d stand in the doorway and holler out to him, “Boy, you better put a cap on your head.”  And Bernadette would wonder why her uncle needed a cap when the weather was warm and dry.

By now, I’m sure you have come up with more of these wonderful expressions that have helped make us who we are today.  And perhaps, if you are feeling a little guilty for not following your mom’s admonishments, remember:  “This too shall pass.”


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