Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things My Mother Taught Me -- the Top Ten

This list begins with early childhood and progresses with my age. In some cases I didn’t follow her advice very well if at all.

1. Don’t push your little brother down the stairs.
My mother stopped me just in time.

2. Don’t go out in the street alone.
Again, this is about my little brother. He was hit by a car when he was very small. He lived. We were glad.

3. Be polite.
My mother required me to recite a special saying when she thought I was being loud, rude and obnoxious. I recited it obnoxiously. It was not effective. I give her credit. She tried.

4. Take care of your own pets.
Mother thought pets were ok, but she made it clear that she would not take care of them. My turtles died rather quickly, and my goldfish lasted quite a while. I remember our tadpole cemetery next to the back porch on Iowa Street. I didn’t have to take care of the dogs because they belonged to everyone in the family.

5. Do well in school.
School was easy for me so this was no problem, but it was important. As I remember it, my mother bribed my brother to get good grades, but I had no such incentive. Was that fair? Later in my life at the University, getting good grades became a problem because I discovered a really great social life.

6. Cook with convenience foods.
Mother was the convenience food queen. She brought home the first boxed dehydrated mashed potatoes to ever come off the assembly line. She fed us canned beef stew and even canned chicken pies before frozen chicken pot pies were available. She fed us frozen vegetables before the neighbors knew they existed. Mother had a double identity. At work she was broadcasting a cooking show, and at home she was giving us early forms of junk food. Needless to say, she lived to be 92.

7. Use labor saving devices as soon as they are on the market.
Mother was not fond of household chores, so she was ahead of everyone else in dealing with them. She had early models of the automatic washer, dryer, chest freezer, electric broiler, steam iron, microwave oven, and more. Her chest freezer dated back to the 1940s. Look at item number 8 to see who used all these things.

8. Have someone clean your house so you will have time to do more interesting things.
The cleaning lady came along with all those labor saving devices. We didn’t have enough money to pay for the twelve-cent movie matinee, but Mother had the cleaning lady. In those days most moms stayed at home and did their own cleaning, so having the cleaning lady was a good idea. Our mother went to work every day and stayed there a long time. She had some inconsistencies. I remember that Mother decided that I needed to learn to iron my clothes when I was in fifth grade. That was not a pleasant day. I agree with her that many activities are more interesting and fulfilling than cleaning house.

9. Honor and stay connected to your family.
I am very glad that we all love each other. As long as we had parents, we gathered with them as often as we could, and everyone came home to them for Christmas. What a crowd.

10. Follow your dreams.
Mother was a teacher, model, writer, radio personality, community supporter, wife and mother. Teaching and modeling didn’t last long, and she cut short her fiction writing career to jump into the radio business. She wrote radio scripts in the days of radio drama. She had what was probably the longest running radio program in Wisconsin history, a five minute recipe program, five days a week from 1951 to 2005. She created and published a Door County guidebook for many years. She invented the House and Garden Walk in Sturgeon Bay, to benefit the Hospital Auxiliary. The auxiliary gave her two life memberships. How long did they expect her to live? She was a leader among women without being a feminist. She didn’t try to make her children into something we were not. She taught us by example that we can live the lives we choose.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like her teachings improved as you got older! Were you any more teachable as you aged? I like the last bunch, except for the convenience foods. Actually, I'd love convenience foods if they were fresh and healthy. Do you suppose anyone will develop some of those?