ROXANNE ROWLEY: Motherly advice goes a long way

Guest Columnist

Mothers have a lot of advice to give. My mom was no exception. I think that it is passed down from one generation of moms to the next.

It was a discussion that my friends and I had when we were in junior high because the recommendations seemed so universal. We even wondered sometimes if there was some kind of Mom Handbook when we compared notes to find out how similar the advice was.

One of Mom’s tidbits that I remember very well was, “change your underwear every day.” Why? Because you never know when you will be in a car accident and you don’t want the doctors and nurses to see you in dirty undies.

This was a perplexing rule to my five younger brothers and they could never understand her insistence. They told Mom they were saving her laundry time if they wore their underwear for several days. It was their favor to her. However, Mom dutifully counted underwear on wash days to make sure that there were the requisite numbers of tidy whiteys in the hamper.

Luckily once my brothers came into their mid-teen years and discovered girls, their attitude changed. So much so that sometimes they went through multiple changes of clothes in one day. Then they became responsible for doing their own laundry.

Another piece of advice I recall vividly from Mom was, “If you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all.”

With six kids some days were filled with bickering. The discussions amongst us kids got rather loud. Mom’s nudge would keep us quiet for a few minutes and sometimes that resulted in either moving on from whatever the “discussion” was or just going outside to play. However that advice certainly is as useful today as it was when I was a kid.

Mom insisted that we wash our hands before meals. My brothers, always in the interest of saving time, sometimes just used the towel to get the grime off. But Mom was ever-wise to the tricks of young boys and checked to see if they had used soap, using the old sniff test. She also checked to see if they washed the back of their hands as well as the palms. This was a strategy I remembered well and found quite useful when I was teaching 4 year olds.

Mom (and Dad, too) told us to do our best whether in school or at a job. Each of us kids started working when we were 16. It was a wonderful way to learn responsibility and earn some money. Our parents instilled a work ethic in us growing up on our small farm. Everyone had chores to do, no exceptions. My folks were very pleased and proud that each of us kids became known as hard, reliable workers.

Since my Mom passed away a few years ago, I carry her recommendations close to my heart. And I am happy to say that I passed her advice down to my kids, continuing that circle of motherly advice.

Roxanne Rowley is a retired early childhood educator and consultant. She enjoys writing and has had numerous articles published related to early childhood issues.

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