If you are of ‘a certain age’, you may remember the show from the 1960’s called Father Knows Best. While that may be so, in s0me cases, it is the contention of veteran journalist and award winning author Patti Murphy that indeed, Mother Knows Better! She has gathered together over 200 bits of wit and wisdom offered by mothers of women and men primarily from the U.S. and some sprinkled in from Canada and compiled them into a book entitled Mother Knows Better! Sense and Nonesense From American Moms. Her debut book was called Mother Knows Best – Wit and Wisdom From Idaho Moms, in May, 2011.
The idea for the book emerged from a conversation that Boise, Idaho ‘Chief Storyteller’ at Murphy Media Services had with a friend who was shrimp averse. When Murphy asked her why she wasn’t indulging, her friend responded that her mother always told her that shrimp tails were poisonous. (I’ve eaten plenty of shrimp and I’m still here to write about it!) She became fascinated with this particular brand of folk lore, intended to steer their kids in the direction of a successful life.
I chuckled as I read many, since some of these mom-isms were likely handed down from generation to generation without consideration of their meaning.
How’s this one :”GINGO-NETTIES!” was shared by Stephen Lowell whose mother Margot Lowell used to shout it out “when things got crazy with all the kids running around.” He goes on to say “All of us froze, calmed down and behaved. We took it as the word that indicate Mom has really lost it. Time to be good or else.”
When Rachel Kerstetter would ask her mother Charlaine Engelhardt what was for dinner, she would reply: “Lizzard gizzards and swamp weed.”
By way of reminding her of the importance of modesty, Nikki Conyers- Jackson’s mother Eloise Conyers-Jackson would admonish her “Keep your panties up and skirt down.”
“Your get up and go got up and went.” was offered by Helen Kennedy to her son, Academy Award winning actor George Kennedy.
From the mind of Lela Wing Benson, mother of Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, came “Don’t walk on the carpet! It messed up the vacuum lines.”
And the reassuring “Don’t be scared. Thunder is just the clouds bumping together,” was declared by Deborah Hightower’s mother Shirley King.
I was honored to be included, with two (of many) pieces of guidance that my mother Selma Weinstein fed me throughout my life. The first was a question: “What would you do if there was a sudden freeze and your face got stuck like that?” and the second which served me particularly well:”Walk in like you own the joint with your head held high,” to which I would add “knockers up.”, so that I wouldn’t be intimidated by anyone. As a result, I have been able to interview notables in the arts, academia, politics, peace, healing and personal growth and take leaps into experiences that might otherswise have frozen me in my tracks.
This is an ideal Mother’s Day gift as it seems to have advice for nearly every circumstance, the profound and the profane with humor and grace, with guidance for how to be and how NOT to be. Think back on what words your mother provided you that serve you to this day and thank her.