In honor of the start of Women’s History Month and my own dear Mom, in retirement in the warm climes of Arizona, I present to you the lessons she taught me over the years.
She repeated the old wives’ tale about not eating too much chocolate – it will surely give you pimples. Don’t go swimming for at least an hour after you eat, she warned, or risk getting cramps. This one, I swear, is true, but I can’t confirm it scientifically.
There were also constant nags about posture, running in the house and other assorted lessons taboos.
Remember back in the 1970s, when every house had a red sticker on the light switch reminding you that turning off lights saved energy? I would guess that it was a Mom that put that little campaign together, along with the more helpful red sticker on the window alerting firefighters of children in the house.
We lathered on sunscreen during the summer and when the bugs attacked in July and August, Mom made all of us wear bug spray. On days that you had on both, the smell was enough to make you pass out. Forget sunburn or a bug bite, you were unconscious on the sidewalk.
It was my Mom who taught me to iron clothes and my grandmother that taught me how to fold them. Ironically, it was also my Mom who taught me how to mow grass and tend flowers.
All of this came back to me this past week when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came out with a model for the new food labeling standard. The fine print will likely remain as confusing as all labeling, but the more important information, such as calories and serving size, will be in larger print.
During flu season, Mom would add 7Up to the shopping cart, knowing it would come in handy. It was better served warm and you always knew that she would have it when you needed it most.
Going shopping with Mom was a chore, but there was one aspect of it that I liked. “Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach” was her motto.
No truer words were ever spoken. She enjoyed McDonald’s food and a magazine or book. Afterward, we would load a cart or two full of the most mundane items imaginable.
We must have eaten like vultures, and there was a coupon for everything. Moms (and, hopefully, some Dads) do this every day. We squirreled away groceries as if there is an imminent nuclear disaster (or a blizzard) on the horizon.
Now we live in a world that doesn’t worry so much about projectiles in the air as fats and carbohydrates in our food and drinks. Mom’s solution was always to eat less when she felt that she was gaining weight, and her only nod to labels was to drink Diet Rite instead of RC.
Then she would turn around and dump about three heaping teaspoons of sugar in her cup of coffee. She probably needed the coffee, since there was always another wives’ tale to impart on our impressionable minds. Funny, for the most part they were true, or at least it seems that way from the distance of 30 years and in light of the fact that I am now imparting the same information to my sons.