When I was growing up, my parents were pretty much the opposite of helicopter parents. They didn’t even think about hovering. They didn’t fight our battles. They led by example – more action-oriented than verbal, I’d say – and that’s probably why I’ve always been a little fascinated when friends have told me about how their parents sat them down at family meetings and bestowed Great Words of Wisdom and Other Deep Thoughts upon their children. That just wasn’t Mama and Daddy’s style. They loved their kids and even now would do anything in the world for us, but they didn’t see motivating us as part of their job. They felt exactly zero pressure if we had a big paper or project due because they had no intention of doing work for us. Granted, they didn’t expect perfection, but by diggity they expected EFFORT. And now that I’m a mama, I totally understand where they were coming from. They didn’t see hard work and responsibility as anything that required lots of encouragement and affirmation. It’s just what you were supposed to do.
As far as I know, Mama and Daddy have never written down a collection of advice for Sister, Brother, and me. I don’t think that would ever occur to them. But early this morning I was drying my hair, and out of nowhere I remembered something Mama always used to say (and probably would still say if I were at her house every day): “When you look your best, you’ll do your best.” She’s more right about that than I would’ve ever admitted when I was in high school. And over the course of the next ten minutes, I thought of a whole host of things Mama and Daddy used to say when I was younger.
Apparently I was listening. And I guess I learned something, too. Here are a few little gems that came to mind.
1. Water seeks its level. (She wasn’t talking about water at all.)
2. Everything happens for a reason.
3. “All things work for good for those who love the Lord…” – Romans 8:28
4. You’ll always feel better about yourself if you put on a little lipstick.
5. Do your best to have a cheerful disposition.
6. The Lord never puts more on us than we can handle.
7. Your word is your bond.
8. There’s no use borrowing trouble.
9. Just put your mind to it and work at it.
10. Be a good friend.
11. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
And last but not least…
12. There’s just no substitute for Land O’Lakes butter.
(I may have mentioned that one before.)
Here’s what really got me, though. As I reminisced this morning, it occurred to me that I say every single one of these things to Alex (except for the one about the lipstick, because, well, that’s not really our issue). I may communicate a little differently with him than my parents did with me, but the messages are still the same. Just yesterday, in fact, we were dealing with a situation where #7 came up over and over again, and when I heard myself ask, “Are you gonna be a man of your word?” – well, I kind of wanted to laugh. Apparently I am a real-live grown-up.
Do any of y’all find yourself thinking about – or even repeating – expressions or words-o-wisdom that you heard growing up? What are some of your favorites?