Think about all of the things you know. The things you are able to do. Reading a book. Tying your shoes. Multiplication. Shaving your legs. Making chocolate chip cookies. Ironing a dress shirt. Writing a proper thank-you note. Chances are, these skills were learned in your first 18 years of life. And if they were, they were likely taught to you by your mom. Or at the very least, she made sure that someone else taught them to you.
Moms know pretty much everything, and they spend decades imparting their wisdom and instruction. And because kids are not always excellent listeners, moms often say the same things over and over. And this is how my wonderful mother came to be known for her famous phrases. These things are all true, and always have been. I will probably say these things to my kids. And they might roll their eyes a little at how often they have heard them, but the lessons are important. I just hope they stick.
Pretty Is as Pretty Does.
Maybe all moms say this, but my mother felt this one in earnest. In a house filled with four girls who spent hours in the bathroom fighting over space and curling irons and blush and oh-my-goodness-did-you-stain-my-shirt-when-you-borrowed-it, there was lots of caring about pretty. So mama made sure we knew that what is on the inside eventually shows on the outside, too. This was helpful, given all of the hormones and selfishness that had to coexist in the two bedrooms at the back of our house. We knew that all the makeup in the world couldn’t make up for a bad attitude. And kindness beats good hair every day of the week.
The only exception to this rule is toddlers. If your tiny ones are behaving badly, please be sure to dress them cute and fix their hair. Because cute does count for a little with toddlers.
People Are More Important Than Things.
This was generally offered up when we were fighting about the aforementioned space and curling irons and blush. But honestly, my mom applied this to a hundred other things. She lived this like nobody else. She was pretty selfless. When my dad said he felt like our family was supposed to move to New Zealand as missionaries, mom willingly sold almost everything in our house. We spent 18 months, our family of seven, traveling around the United States in a 36-foot travel trailer to raise support to go. My mom homeschooled us the entire time. I never once heard her complain. When we moved back to the US, mom sold everything in our New Zealand household and started over. Again.
Our house was always filled with people. She stretched meals. She hosted missionaries and church friends and neighbors. She made dinner for homeless families that I invited to church. The expense and the effort was never important. The people always were.
It’s Always Right to Do Right.
If I have ever encountered a dilemma where the best decision wasn’t clear, this is the place my mind always went. What is right? I sometimes avoid what is right because it is hard. Or it could hurt someone’s feelings. Or it could cause unwanted conflict. When in doubt, choose the thing that is right. And if you aren’t sure which thing is right, say a prayer, and do the thing that seems MORE right. It works.
Have a Little Talk with Jesus.
When I was having a bad day, or if I was struggling with any of the above advice, Mom always referred me back to God. If I was sassy to her, she would first threaten to wash my mouth out with soap (she was not afraid to follow through on this), and then she would tell me that I needed a little talk with Jesus. She was always right.
Even now, as a mother myself, when I am struggling with my own kids, I find myself needing to stop and regroup. I have memorized verses that relate to my common struggles, and I refer to them daily. I stop and say prayers for grace. For strength. For a patient spirit. For kind words to use with my kids. For bedtime to come quickly before I lose my mind. Mom was right on this one, friends.
What about you? What phrases did your mama always say?