Dad jokes are a thing. Can we get #MomLines trending too?
My mom is a superhero. I could gush about her till kingdom come. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t always appreciate her, but as an adult, I do now. She sends me good morning texts every day. She’s the first to read my articles. She’s my greatest coach, ally, and friend. And she makes the best damn biscotti on planet earth.
While she’s genuinely sweet, she’s also really... weird. Weird in an endearing sort of way. She’s said some pretty bizarre things to me growing up. Perhaps the full list will becomes it’s own book someday. Until then, I’ve compiled a best-of-the-best. Her top five oddest phrases that life has proven to be 100% accurate.
#1 If you’re smart, people will leave you alone.
My mom immigrated to the United States in her teens. The kids at school teased her on account of her broken English and not-very-American clothes. While she was so-so in reading, she was a whiz at math. One day in class, the teacher made a math error on board. My mom noticed it, raised her hand, and politely let the teacher know. The teacher applauded her in front of the class, and made the necessary correction on the board. From that day forward, the other kids stopped teasing her.
My mom would tell me that story over and over again. Not because she has dementia. Not because it makes her look like a badass (it does). She would tell that story to remind me that stepping up my game is the only way to deal with naysayers. If you prove yourself, the less-thans will avoid you. Your excelling accentuates the gap between you and them, which is painful for their ego. When you’re out of their league, they’ll leave you alone. Then you can go after your dreams.
#2 Nothing good happens after midnight.
This line actually predates my mom one generation: my soft-spoken, yet tough-as-nails grandpa would say it while enforcing a midnight curfew for my mom and her siblings. I technically didn’t have a curfew because I was a self-imposed recluse. My sister, on the other hand, was a wild child and always pushed the curfew envelope, to which my mother would say: nothing good happens after midnight. She’s absolutely right. I challenge you to name one edifying out-of-the-house activity that occurs after midnight. I’ll wait. If it’s going on after midnight, there’s a strong likelihood it offers so no real benefit to your life.
#3 If you clean as you go, you’ll never have to “clean”.
Most of my life I’ve lived alone. Very rarely have I had roommates, but when I have, the veracity of this statement would stick out like a man in a woman’s shoe store. One particular roommate left dirty plates stacked in the sink, large chip particles on the floor from her midnight eatwalking rendezvous, dirty clothes in random piles in the living room — all to ‘clean’ on Sunday. This is a foreign concept to me.
My mom had a rule — clean as you go. For example, when cooking dinner, you wash the dirty dishes while the food is preparing: wash the cutting board after putting the ingredients in the bowl; wash the bowl after putting the ingredients in the pot; wash the pot after putting the food on the plate. Then, when it’s time to eat, there are no dishes left to wash! Other offshoots: if you notice crumbs on the floor, vacuum them right away; if you notice the trash is full, take it out; if you notice the bathtub requires attention, scrub it straightaway. The underlying premise is this — attend to things as they happen. If you do, you’ll never need a ‘cleaning day.’
#4 Tidy space, tidy mind.
I’m not sure she actually said this one quite as succinctly, but the basic tenet was communicated in many more words and gestures (she’s Italian, so of course there were gestures). If your room is cluttered, your mind will be cluttered. In order to think clearly your space has to be clear of distractions. I’m equally appalled and incredulous when I walk into people’s homes or offices to see an utter mess. How do they get anything done? I cannot be productive if my surroundings are messy. Tidy space, tidy mind.
#5 Success requires no explanation.
My senior year of high school I took all AP classes. By choice. I knew this would get me into my university of choice. It came, of course, with hours of homework each night and a 5 hour sleep schedule. What my mom *didn’t* do was tell me to take easier classes or choose a different school. She would have been proud of me regardless, but she knew this was my dream and that this is what it would take to get there. So instead, every night, she would brew me a pot of strong, stove-top espresso and bring it to my bedroom where I studied.
Work your a** off. Do whatever it takes to get over the finish line. All nighters, espresso shots, consistent grind. Once you succeed, no one is going to ask you to explain yourself. You’ll get a congratulations. You’ll get adulation. You’ll get respect. What you won’t get is someone demanding you explain yourself. That only happens when you fail. ‘Showing your work’ only matters when you get the math problem wrong. If you get the thing right, the scrutiny isn’t there — you have already arrived. So put in the work and get across the finish line, because success requires no explanation.
I wonder at what point lines become mom lines. Is it the ‘mom’ title that makes the pithy one-liners more disarming? Is the daily, captive audience with which to practice part of the success? Does the act of raising children activate a special wisdom genome? I’d like to think I say plenty of insightful things throughout the course of my day. But right now I’m just the quirky girl armed with quips and killer red lipstick. Some day I hope to have mom lines. More than anything though, I hope to be at least half the woman my mom is.
That would be success. ❤
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