Growing up, my mom had some very memorable phrases. Looking back, I wish I had remembered listened more. Back then, I just thought she was crazy. Now, I realize the wisdom that was behind those statements, whether she intended their meaning or not. So, here are the top five phrases that have stuck with me through the years.
“What do I look like, the entertainment committee?”
This was often spoken to my sister and me after we informed her:
A) We were bored.
B) There was NOTHING to do.
C) No one could come out to play.
D) Nothing was on TV.
E) We were bored.
F) We were bored.
G) We were bored.
Because of her sarcastic (yet loving) response, we were forced to entertain ourselves, which wasn’t something we always liked to do. We fought like cats and dogs, but when we needed to, we could play so well together, my sister and I. In addition to helping us learn to put aside our differences and make a boring situation fun, we were also taught to use our imagination, to get our butts off the couch and play outdoors, to be resourceful, and figure out how to solve problems creatively. We learned to entertain ourselves and now, I like to entertain others.
“You could use a little more blush.”
Oh yes, my mother said these words to me, thankfully not in my hormonal “I’m going to bite your head off if you say one wrong thing to me” stage. In her infinite wisdom, she was telling me to look my best when I left the house. Why? Because you never know what situation you will end up in or who you will meet. She was telling me to look my best, to be prepared. A little more blush can make you look alive, perky, and healthy. When you feel like you look good, you act it. It’s a little confidence booster. And maybe, just maybe, you’re a little more prepared for unexpected situations.
“You should cut your hair.” or “You should get the hair out of your face.”
This WAS said to me during my hormonal stage. My mother was a strong, brave woman to speak those words during that time. Look, she clearly had NO idea that big hair, hanging in your face, was all the rage in the late ’80s. I used my hair to hide my fat face. Long bangs, feathered bangs, and rock-star looking perms. You name it, I wore it—as a mask. My mom always thought I was beautiful, even when I didn’t. When she said the above phrases, she did so with sincerity and love. She would take a section of my hair between her thumb and fingers and sweep it way, ever so gently, from my face, with an affectionate smile on her face. What I thought was a rude phrase was actually a very tender moment between mother and daughter. She taught me to feel beautiful, to not hide and to show the world that I was special, even when I looked different from so many other girls.
“You should get out there and play the field.”
About a year or so after my divorce, my mom said these words as an encouragement to get out there and date again. I never had a boyfriend in high school or college. And when I did get one in my early 20s, I married him. We went into an all consuming, dysfunctional, “young love” relationship. When my mom told me to “play the field” she was reminding me that I had never played the field to find who else was out there. And then she said to me (best part of this statement), you never let other men get to know YOU! She wasn’t encouraging me to be a slut by any means. She was encouraging me to learn about myself and to not settle for anything, but the best.
“Just go buy yourself a pretty.”
That was mom’s response to solving problems, mostly emotional issues, but really any type of “big” problem. Back then, I didn’t understand how buying something was supposed to make me feel better. As an adult, I COMPLETELY understand! Buying yourself something pretty (jewelry, clothing, purses, etc.) is making an investment in YOU. We deserve to treat ourselves. We do so much for other people and yet we women forget to take care of ourselves. DON’T. A “pretty” gives you that little feel good moment and can serve as a reminder of how important you are. Take care of YOU! As my mom also said, “There is no shame in buying for yourself if no one else is going to do it!” Amen to that, Mom!
I hope to teach these lessons to my daughter, The Teenager. I also hope that every mother, daughter, and woman who reads this will find something valuable that they can share with a young woman in their life. Now, go buy yourself something pretty, and get something for your mom, too.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Written by: Jennifer Reeves is a customer-service guru, and she is known around the office for her electrifying personality and contagious laugh. When she isn’t spreading cheer at Serendipity, she is relaxing at her home in Holland with her beloved daughter Mackenzie.