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Motherisms

3 mins read

By Lee Scott

My mother was a member of The Greatest Generation and one of those women who became a mother in the late 1940s and 1950s. 

These women produced the infamous Baby Boom Generation. Like many of the women of her era, Mom judged her own parenting skills on what Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous pediatrician, had written in his best-selling book “Baby and Child Care.”

But it did not stop there. She was also expected to emulate those perfect mothers in the sit-coms of the day. Shows like, “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Donna Reed Show” that depicted women in their starched cotton dresses wearing a string of pearls and dealing with mundane parenting issues. 

However, sometime during the period between 1949, when she had her first baby, and 1965, when she had her last baby, Mom threw out Dr. Spock’s book and turned off the television. 

From that point on, parenting was based on her Motherisms. Now these were a group of phrases Mom threw out at us kids daily. Things like “I will give you something to cry about young lady.” Or “How would you like to be the first person on the moon?” 

Naturally, that phrase went out the door in 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. 

Or another good one, “If your brother told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it?” (By the way, it was never a good idea to answer her questions.) 

But she also included philosophical phrases like “Take everything with a grain of salt,” “Trust your gut,” and my all-time favorite “If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.” 

It was very strange for me during my own child-rearing years when I started to hear my mother’s voice coming out of my own mouth. All those Motherisms rolled easily off my tongue.

I remember calling one of my sisters and saying, “Oh no, I have turned into our Mother!” 

That’s when she told me that she found herself yelling at her boys for getting in the pool too soon after eating. Mom would say “No swimming for at least 20 minutes after lunch, or else you will get cramps and drown.” 

I think she made this one up so she could get a break from watching us all swim.

But some of her Motherisms I have used throughout my life and now hear my own children say them to my grandchildren. 

When I heard my daughter say to her son “If you believe that one, I have a bridge to sell you.” I had to burst out laughing. Classic Mom. 

So, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You may be gone, but your Motherisms are alive and well.

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