On Easter Sunday, I had the opportunity to sit in my living room with my mom and chat about our lives then and now. My mom is a true treasure in my life. I consider myself lucky to still have her with me at the ripe age of 90. Yes, she walks a little slower now and cannot do the same things she once did, but she is still a very bright, lively person who continues to positively impact on my life. My mom is a strong, willful person. She always has been. My mother has also never been shy about giving advice. Her watchful gaze over me as I progressed from child to teen to adult has been a blessing in my life. Even as I move through my life at 55 years aged, I still find myself adhering to the advice she gave me so many years ago. For this blog I have selected some of her best gems of wisdom that she has shared over the years with her only daughter. As the old saying goes, “Mother knows best,” and that sentiment still holds true for me to this day. Here are mom’s words of wisdom.
1) “Sit Ladylike” – My mother was big on crossing the legs when you sat. No matter if it be at the ankles or the full cross at the knees, as a girl growing up in my house, you had better choose one of these positions when you took a seat. Back in the day, dresses were king so a lady would never be caught sitting with her legs apart. It simply wasn’t done. I think as women progressed into trouser, slacks, and jeans, the once lady-like posture that was adopted by our grandmothers faded into the distance like a memory. Nowadays, people sit as they please, wherever they are. I once spied a young woman with her feet up on a restaurant table. I was appalled that she would do that at home let alone in a public place that served food! It was a good thing she wasn’t wearing a dress! As old fashioned as it sounds, for me, in my vintage dresses and skirts, I still sit properly and cross those legs. It is a habit that I hope will never cease to exist.
2) “Pull Your Dress Down” – No matter when I stand up, I never fail to check my dress or skirt to make sure it is where it should be. I even have my husband check it out to make sure all is as it should be. I remember one of my friends telling me a story about how her dress accidentally got tucked into her waistband while she was in the airport. She spent a good deal of the time flashing the other passengers while waiting to board the plane at the gate. I was horrified for her about the experience and vowed to never repeat that scene myself. My mom always stressed to me to always pull my dress down. It’s funny how a simple tug and check can save you a lifetime of embarrassment.
3) “Dress Like a Lady” – My mother was a huge influence on me in all aspects of my life, but especially when it came to fashion. Till this day, my mother always dresses like a lady. Her colors and patterns are nicely coordinated, she accents her outfits with jewelry, and she never goes out looking unkept. As I stated earlier, today anything goes. Messy buns have replaced coiffed hairstyles, baggy sweatpants have replaced dresses and skirts, ski caps have replaced lovely picture hats. Yes, we are living in a modern age where dressing in style is too much of a hassle for those living in the fast lane or even just on the couch. My mother and father always insisted that people judged you on how you looked. She wholeheartedly believed that others were more inclined to take you serious, hire you, or follow your advice if you looked the part. Even my maternal grandmother who was as poor as a church mouse still found it necessary to look like a lady. Her efforts proved to me that you don’t have to have money to make a decent appearance. That being said, I get up every morning, select a dress or skirt to wear, fix my hair, put on my make up and pearls and walk proudly into my day. For me, my mom, and grandmother there is simply no excuse for not looking like a lady.
4) “Blend that Line” – My mother was a trained Beautician. She actually owned her beauty shop when I was growing up. The local ladies would come to her shop, which was in the basement of our home, to get the latest haircut, wet roller set, or updo. My mom knew all about beauty. Cosmetics, hair, and nails were her thing. One thing she was big on was ladies blending their foundation so that they didn’t look like they were wearing a mask. She taught me from the time I began wearing make-up to blend, blend, blend! She said choosing the right shade of foundation was key, but blending was the difference between looking natural and made-up. So every time I put on my foundation, I take several moments to blend my jawline down into my neck. After all, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my very first beauty expert (Mom)!
5) “Wear a Smile” – My mom rarely smiles and is one of the most negative people I’ve ever known. Surprised to read that? Don’t be. Now let me be clear, my mother is a gem. But I guess life’s circumstances and age have caused her to be a little more solemn than she was in her youth. At 90, I guess she is entitled to that. Despite her sometimes gray outlook on things, my mom always told me to never be afraid to smile and smile big. She said people warm up to those wearing a smile. She also stressed that there is a need to be polite in all situations. I’ll admit that I don’t always follow the latter advice. My former career, working in political circles for 20 some years, and age have taken their toll on my ability to remain polite in all situations, but alas I still try. At least I’m wearing a smile most days, even if I’m not always perfectly polite. Wasn’t it Dolly Parton who said, “If you see someone without a smile; give them yours!” Good advice from Dolly and mom.
6) “The Floor is Not a Closet” – I am a cleaning nut! Let’s just face it. But if you knew me back when I was a kid, you would have never guessed that I would have turned into such a neat freak who spends time giving others advice on how to clean! My mother once described my room as worse than my Aunt’s house after it was robbed and ransacked! Yet, despite my messy start, all these years later, I am a totally neat nut. “Everything has a place and everything in it’s place” is my motto. My mother was not a neat freak like me when I was growing up. She was, however, very particular about how her home looked on a daily basis. When I would come home from school, I would toss my coat, sweater, skirt, whatever on my bedroom floor before moving on. In my adolescent world, coat hangers and closets were non-existent. My mom would stress to me that if I just took a few moments to hang up my cloths when I took them off, my room would stay neat and somewhat clean. You know something? She was right! As an adult with a home of my own, I never take any item of clothing off without hanging it up or putting it away. And guess what? My room stays neat and clean. Who knew? Oh that’s right…mom did!
7) “Make Your Bed” – Even though my room as a kid was in a state of chaos, my mother absolutely insisted that my bed be made every morning. She said it wouldn’t look good if someone walked into one of the bedrooms and the beds were a mess. (I was never sure who the stranger was that was wondering through our house to discover unmade beds!) Both of my grandmothers and all of my aunts were big on this rule as well. So, like an obedient daughter, every morning, our bed is made. (To be honest, my husband always beats me to this task every morning, but no matter, the deed gets done!) The important thing is that if someone walks into my bedroom, they will see a neat and tidy room. Besides, I found out that I actually can’t sleep in a bed that hasn’t been made up during the day. It may be a weird idiosyncrasy, but it’s as good excuse as any for making the case that the bed needs made daily.
As you can see, my mom’s advice has played well for me over the years. It’s funny because when you are a kid, you are inclined to think that your parents know nothing and that you are the master of the universe. But when you finally grow up and gain some sense, you suddenly realize that the gems of wisdom that your parents bestowed upon you were the gems of wisdom your grandparents bestowed upon your them. At 55, I treasure every piece of advice my mom has given to me and continues to provide. Her words ring true in my ears daily and I dare say I think I am a better person for it. Thanks mom! 💋