12 Words of Wisdom from Mom


Mothers are known for being generous with their advice. Unfortunately, we usually don’t appreciate this trait until years later, when we’ve had enough experience to realize just how wise our mothers really were. So, just in case you needed a reminder, here are twelve classic bits of mom advice that hold just as true today as they did when you were tiny.

1. Clean your room.

We thought she was being so unreasonable, didn’t we? After all, she didn’t have to come into our room if she didn’t like the way it looked. Most of us never realized how important the ability to sort and organize our own environment was until we had a couple years of adult experience under our belt. And learning how to do hard/boring/distasteful things even when we didn’t feel like it? Priceless.

2. Don’t forget your jacket! You never know which way the wind is going to turn.

How many times have we rolled our eyes and marched out into the sunshine, ignoring our mother’s entreaties to take a coat or umbrella, only to find ourselves drenched, freezing, and downright miserable? The sun on our arms and weightless freedom felt good until our lack of preparation, naiveté and bull-headedness came home to roost.

This particular bit of advice carried a deeper meaning, too: don’t leave my sphere of protection until you’ve armed yourself with everything you need to stay warm, dry, safe, and even comfortable. It’s a big, dangerous world out there, and you never know which the wind is going to turn. Be prepared.

3. A watched pot never boils.

So why are you just standing there staring while life passes you by? Get on with your life — if it’s meant to happen, it will.

4. Don’t pick at your scabs; you’ll leave a scar.

Human beings have a morbid fascination with their own pain. Certainly, you can’t ignore the places where you’ve been injured — you need to take care of yourself and apply the appropriate treatment, whether it’s antibiotic cream and a band-aid or a long, cathartic conversation with someone you trust. And if the wounds are serious or aren’t healing on their own, you need to seek professional help.

But returning to the source of your pain again and again, peeling back the layers and focusing on the damage at the expense of appreciating all the wonderful things happening around you, will only delay your healing process. Sometimes, you just need to give those areas time and space to heal.

5. Put some clothes on — you’ll give the boys ideas!

*ahem* Yes, like it or not, the way that we present ourselves can affect the way other people treat us. Mom was right: looking clean, well-cared for, and modest is the best bet in almost every situation.

6. Don’t become so wrapped up in your boyfriend/husband that you neglect spending time with your girlfriends.

Ooh, this is a good one, perhaps the most underrated and ignored bit of maternal advice of all time. After all, who has time to giggle with the girls when you’re basking in the glow of new love? You want to be with the object of your affection all the time, and build your whole life around him.

The problem is, you can’t be with him all the time. And after the glow has faded a bit, you could wake up one morning and realize that the life you built around your sweetheart isn’t much of a life at all, or is at least startlingly empty. One person can only take up so much space, no matter how incredible he is (or isn’t). Make time for all the wonderful women in your life, your mother included.

7. It takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.

So look on the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining. Keep a stiff upper lip, because it’s easier to grin and bear it than to bear a grudge. Besides, you have such a pretty smile.

8. The world doesn’t revolve around you, missy.

That seems just a tad bit hypocritical coming from her, no? Still, they are wise words to bear in mind.

9. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

Okay, so that particular bit of advice predates mom by about two thousand years. But it’s a good one, and chances are you heard it, or one of its variations, coming out of your mom’s mouth plenty of times growing up. Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How would you like it if someone did that to you?

Words to live by. They’re just as true now as they were two thousand years ago.

10. Change your underwear every day. What if you were in a car accident?

Enough said.

11. Don’t even think about [insert moral taboo of choice: drinking, doing drugs, skipping school, having sex]. But you know you can always talk to me about anything.

Ah, the classic mommy conundrum — threaten your daughter with eternal grounding if she even flirts with the idea of doing something stupid, and then make it really, really clear that she is to come right to you if she ever does.

Actually, it’s not as silly as it sounds. Good parents set clear expectations for their children, making no bones about what constitutes acceptable behavior and what does not. It’s like a mama bear growling at her cub when it starts wandering off in a dangerous direction. The cub may not like it, but watch that mama bear turn and fight when her cub is in real danger. A strong, loving mother with teeth and a backbone is the best sort of mother to have.

12. Don’t roll your eyes at me, young lady! You’ll appreciate my advice someday.

Oh, Mom, you were so right.

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