She would occasionally break into the song "Sisters" from White Christmas when my sister and I got into an argument.
And she was right - I never did get another pair of eyes! (My eyeglasses in the fourth grade were particularly hideous. Think Lina Wertmuller. But powder blue.)
My all-time favorite mom-ism - she didn't know about the cucumbers, like Hank's mom - is one I think of often, and in retrospect, I should have appreciated her more for it.
"I can't put my head on your shoulders." As in, I can advise you, but you have to make up your mind. Oy! I wish she was still around to see how that turned out. Mostly wonderful, mom.
What were your mom's catch phrases?
RHYS BOWEN: My father was the one with all the catch phrases, his favorites being "Don't count your chickens..." Before they are hatched being implied. "Eyes too big for your belly" when we left food on our plates, or sometimes "You must be twins, one couldn't be so daft." He had also been stationed in Egypt for four years during the war and frequently barked commands at us in Arabic, all of which we came to understand.
My mom has been dead for 13 years now and I'm trying to remember if she ever used catch phrases. She was a very modern woman, very trendy and would pick up the latest phrase from popular culture but no words of folk wisdom that I can think of.
Pity. I'd like to be able to hear her voice in my head, giving me the perennial warning.
HALLIE EPHRON: Lina Wertmuller's glasses?? Now that is a reference only Ro would make -- I had to Google images to find out we're talking white, not-quite cats eyes. A rather startling effect with LW's short white-white hair and black-black eyebrows. Funny thing, when my mother died, I somehow ended up with her reading glasses (black, same shape as LW's) and I couldn't throw them away.
Catch phrase. My mother went in for bits of verse. Like she'd narrow her eyes at me and say, "There was a little girl and she had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid."
She also told me "Don't cut of your nose to spite your face" (even now I'm not sure what that means) and "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water." Spilled salt immediately got thrown over her right (left?) shoulder.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, I got the bridge thing, big time. It was just generic bridge. But used often.
Let's see--she also announced, when we cleaned the kitchen, that one must "wipe off all horizontal surfaces." Oh, and--"thoughtful consideration of others is the sign of a true lady."
Also--"Get off your duff and get out there. No cute boys are going to come knocking at your door asking if you're available. You have to get out here." And "if you put it away in the proper place, you'll know where ti is the next time."
And "What happens to you in high school has no bearing on the rest of your life. Get over it. Those girls are peaking too soon."
Oh, and--"Hold your stomach in." And the classic "Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?" I think that had to do with dating, but since I never had dates, it didn't matter.
Huh. Apparently I was actually listening. She would have been happy to know that.
ROSEMARY: OMG, Why buy the cow! Obviously - um - I forgot that one!
LUCY BURDETTE: You are so right Rhys, how sad it is when their voices fade from our heads...
Hallie, definitely got the little girl with the little curl poem too. Hank, your mother was so smart about high school!
And others my mother said: "A new broom sweeps clean." "Don't lie down on a blanket with a boy." (This is after she discovered me and my older sister in the sand dunes with some boys.) And my favorite: "Some day you'll feel about a man the way you do about the cat." Obviously she was totally bonkers for animals. My husband is still waiting for that day:).
DEBORAH CROMBIE: You all make me laugh! And miss my mom . . . Although she's still with us, she has advanced Alzheimer's, so when I can get her to smile at me and say, "I love you," it's a good day. Hank, your mom was so wise.
I did get the curl thing. And "Your face will freeze like that." Don't remember being warned about bridges, but maybe because we don't have many in our part of Texas. Two things I remember very well--my mom would always tell me I was beautiful, and that I could do anything I wanted with my life. Hard to beat that.
JAN BROGAN: Ro, over in New Jersey, we still used the Brooklyn Bridge as the reference. And yes, Debs is so right, this is making me miss my mother.
In fact, the hard thing about this question was whittling it down. I have a saying that my mother turned out to be right about EVERYTHING. At least, partly. The weirdest thing, though, was that she was a nurse, so she was always making medical pronouncements that seemed outlandish at the time but many years later turned out to have at least some truth in them. She distrusted margarine long before they discovered transfats. She was certain that all her friends were having unnecessary hysterectomies (turns out that statistically, at least, they were) and that doctors always proscribed too much medication - especially antibiotics. She even used to predict that we'd become immune to the antibiotics - I mean DECADES before the official warnings.
She always told me to "save more than you spend" and "stop negotiating with your children," and to travel a lot. "Travel is the world's best education." was one of her favorite expressions.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: My mother is still very much alive and still dispensing useful information like, "Mix the flour and cold water first, THEN add it to the gravy," and "Sometimes, you'll arrive at a college and your teen won't even want to get out of the car and take the tour. Don't make him take the tour. He won't change his mind."
Growing up? I also heard about jumping off bridges, and not buying the cow when the milk was free, and "Soap's cheap," which was a hand-me-down from HER mother. "It's better to be stylish than fashionable." "Don't date a man you wouldn't be willing to marry." "Don't worry about the mess - you'll have time to clean house when your children are grown."
Probably most importantly, my mother told me I should be a writer years before I ever considered trying my hand at fiction. She saved everything I wrote, critiqued it mercilessly, praised it sparingly and urged me to follow my heart and my talents even if it meant giving up lawyering. I probably wouldn't be here today if it weren't for her. Thanks, Mom!
ROSEMARY: So tell us, what was it your mama said?
..and click on the link below to see a cute video of Dionne Bromfield's version of Mama Said.