Momisms are part of growing up. They are things mothers say to their children to control, instruct, and civilize the little urchins.
When we asked our daughter, the proud parent of two lovely Centennial young women, her reply was “I avoided Momisms like the plague.” Her answer fits the “nothing like mom” path she forged.
Parents of Generation Xers, Baby Boomers, and other past generations could not hold back the trite Momisms. The sayings are how their mothers raised them. Consequently, they fell into some of the “old” methods due to subconscious brainwashing.
It is entertaining to watch a young mother realize she spouted her mother’s admonitions to her offspring. No one wants to become their parents. But human females possess a powerful drive to achieve that goal.
Could the reason be the natural animosity females tend to hold toward other females, especially those who hold power over them? Whatever our motives may be, even if our parents were outstanding people, we all battle turning into them.
In our family, the most memorable parental admonishment came from our father. His words were a result of hardships he and our mother endured. In any case, most parents of his generation subscribed to the “clean plate” rule. Our dad put an exaggerated spin on the decree.
Picture our family gathered around the dining room table; father at the head and mother below the salt. As each of us finished our meal, we picked up our plates and took them to the kitchen.
Father glanced at our plates and stopped us if there were even a few grains of rice on the plates. “Ten thousand Chinese battalions would live for a week on what you left on your plate.”
We had countless retorts but were afraid to voice them because father lacked a sense of humor. From his perspective, any negative response was a punishable offense. So, to avoid the drama, we dutifully ate every last grain before taking our plates to the kitchen.
Over the years, the same scenario played out at almost every meal. That is until our Oops brother came along. He was our parents’ midlife surprise. From an early age, the boy knew no fear and spoke his mind without repercussions. Consequently, when father gave his spiel on the Chinese battalions, Oops replied, “Let’s pack it up and send it to them.”
This woman has a theory on the increasing parental child-rearing laxity of our parents. They wore themselves out trying to civilize their firstborn. While the first child’s butt bore the brunt of countless spankings, the rest of their brood got away with almost everything.
Another Momism heard over the years: “Don’t slouch. You’ll become a hunchback.”
Our mother went so far as to slip a broomstick between my elbows to encourage good posture. If you look around today, most people, including teenagers, have bad posture with protruding guts. And yet, we have not seen a hump anywhere.
“Stop frowning. Your face will freeze that way,” was a familiar command. The only people we now see with almost permanent scowls are the disapproving tight-assed folk who enjoy spreading misery.
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” How about when you deny whatever the urchins demand? Two friends went shopping with their children. One woman’s daughter pestered her mother relentlessly to buy something the kid wanted. After enduring the itching and moaning for what seemed like an eternity, the mother caved and bought the item. “It is easier to give in than to put up with the tantrum,” the harried woman explained. Because of the mother’s surrender, the child learned a handy lesson.
If you ask men about Momisms, they recall two in particular.
First, “Don’t run with that; you could put your eye out.” (The item can be scissors or any other sharp object boys tend to like.) The second is because boys like dirt. “Don’t put that in your mouth. You don’t know where it’s been.”
As parental exasperation increases, you may even hear today’s moms say, “You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.” No matter what generation you belong to, Momisms are guides to raising rug rats.