[This post is part of the Bound for Mom mini-blog carnival hosted by Geneabloggers]
To me, mothers took every opportunity to teach and could do so without their children know they were being taught. There was always the concept of “home schooling” it just was in addition to formal public/private schooling. Too many times today I will be out in public and hear a Mom say, “OK kids – this is a learning moment!” Every moment should be a learning moment and shouldn’t have to be pointed out.
My mother seemed to have much more to teach than most other mothers – perhaps because she was raising my brother and I by herself. And since she worked full time, she counted on her boys to perform chores around the house including cooking and cleaning which were not your typical skills learned by males in the household.
As many readers know – mostly through my blog And I Helped which is a tribute to my Mom and her recipes – I began cooking around age nine. I could have dinner on the table when Mom walked through the door at 5:30 pm. It wasn’t fancy – I specialized in Hamburger Helper, Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks and Shake ‘n Bake but it was hot, it was filling and it was food.
And while my colleagues all floundered after college by trying to cook for themselves (or find someone willing to cook for them), I felt like I had an advantage with my new found skills. Other things Mom taught me: how to clean a house, how to sew a button and a hem, how to do basic yard work, how to make basic repairs, how to spend and save money, and when to ask vs. when to demand.
Besides teaching me skills, I also picked up some of my mother’s sayings. Mom was a “people watcher” which seemed to be a popular as well as no-cost pastime especially in New York. Looking back while it may now seem a bit judgmental, the comments made about passersby were usually only when someone looked or did something outlandish or shameful.
In my mother’s era women just didn’t leave the house unless they were “put together.” Mom always complained that she had to hurry and “put my face on” which, of course, meant make up. Looking “put together’ meant you took a moment, looked in a mirror and cared about your appearance before you left the house. Mom was not of the “mop the floor wearing high heels” or “gloves, hat and purse that match” set – that was a bit before her time. However, the big no-nos to her were not brushing your hair and not wearing a bra.
Growing up, if I was at the mall and I heard a lady say “Would it kill her to run a brush through her hair?” or “She spent all her money on clothes and nothing on a mirror?” or “You think she’d die if she wore a bra?” I knew it was my mother. And at that very moment I would be busy trying to figure out: a) if the subject in question heard it, b) if anyone else heard it and c) where I could possibly hide and die a quick death due to embarrassment.
In later years we always had a good laugh with Mom over her sayings but she had no regrets. And that is the most important thing Mom taught me: live a life of no regrets.