Advice from my mom

How good girls should sit.

My mom was full of the wisdom of the 1950s. It was a time when women were mostly homemakers and she avidly followed the advice in magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping.  She raised three daughters and three sons with no household help. She believed in the power of shiny appliances. And, despite all the recipes in these women’s guides, she never really learned to cook.

However, my mom was wise in the ways of the postwar world and she tried valiantly to keep up with changing times, especially regarding rules for “good girls.” Fifty years later, I can say that mom had it (mostly) right.

Mom’s rules:

Never go out without clean underwear in case you get in an accident. I would amend this to never go out without underwear.  Years ago, I was driving my perpetually tardy son to high school and rushed out the door with just a coat over my nightgown. After dropping him off, I turned around in a driveway and backed right into an oncoming car.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. Even more fortunately, I never hit the ground in the full Monty position. But it was a close call!  Moral of the story, clean or not, never go out without underwear.

2. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, say nothing.  I categorize this as clearly advice for a pre-social media world.  If you have nothing good to say, today you can go online with no limit to how awful you can be. You can lie, berate and bully to your heart’s content, especially if you are the president.  However, if you are not that man, mom is absolutely right.

3. Marry someone older than you even if by a day.  Done.  I’m not sure why that rule was important but, in the 1950s, women’s options were way more limited. Perhaps an older spouse might have been a better breadwinner.  Today, anything goes so marry who you want. However, I’m just pointing out that Doug Emhoff is one week older than Kamala Harris.

4 If it’s your time of the month, keep it to yourself. Menses were unmentionable in the 60s.  When I was in middle school and learning to type, my typewriter’s period key broke.  My desk mate thought that was so hilarious, he told everyone that my period was stuck. I’m not sure we’ve made much progress since.

 5. No one buys the cow if the milk is free. I resented being compared to a cow.  However, considering that boys of a certain age were basically upright barnyard animals, it’s a point taken.

6. If you don’t wear a bra, your boobs will fall.  This is only somewhat true. If you live long enough all your body parts will fall.  Gravity wins the long game. Boobs and all.

What rules did you grow up with?  What advice did/do you give your daughters? Is this still a world of “rules for girls” or is it a world where “girls rule” ? I’d love to hear your comments.

t

7 comments

  1. Wear good ( ugly) shoes 👞 now so that you can wear high heels 👠 later.
    An acceptable answer to anyone’s question is “I don’t know”.
    Never say anything bad about a rabbi or a child.
    Your mother and your father are your two best friends.
    Don’t shave your legs… it will grow back thicker and you’ll be sorry!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Mimi, as always your flare and humor is so evident in your writing and love hearing your voice. My mother’s edict learning about dating was to kick the boys in the balls if they got fresh with me! Fresh I would think, isn’t that a mouthwash! Never leave the house without lipstick because you never know who you’ll meet! Maybe an eyebrow? But the piece de resistance was when I got my menses aka period not the one that got stuck, an ole jewish bubamice (sp?) was to have your face slapped! Consequently, I was never a fan of my monthly menses and of course now a crone, I’ve never looked back other than wanting to be 50 again or maybe it’s 40!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I also was raised by magazine articles. It was confusing as each month the advice changed, reversed, etc. As a poor eater I remember the night my mother decided I had to eat what was on my plate before I was allowed to leave the table. I sat there staring at a serving of green peas for at least an hour after everyone else had moved on. In the end, I won. She never tried that approach again, and neither did I with my own children.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love to read your pieces! I remember one of my mother’s directives. Put lipstick on first thing so that you will always look pretty for your husband. – so much for that. Never used lipstick, and Achikam is still around…

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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