In honor of what would have been my mother’s birthday on Sunday, I’d like to share 10 of her favorite sayings. I’ve heard Mother repeat her words-to-the-wise at least 100 times. However, when I stop and consider the advice offered by these self-help truisms in dealing with life’s ups and downs, they still ring true.
Most of the time Mother’s repertoire of sayings remains undisturbed, buried deep in my memory bank. Now and again, though, one will pop out of my mouth. When it does, I smile and think of Mother and all of the love, support, and guidance she provided to us kids.
- Don’t cry over spilled milk.
- Don’t cross your bridges until you come to them.
- Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
- You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
- Many hands make light work.
- Once bitten, twice shy.
- You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
So what pieces of oft-repeated advice from your mother or grandmother have stuck with you?
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To read another story about Mother, visit:
- The Old Philosopher of New Dubina - March 10, 2023
- Farewell to the Farm - February 17, 2023
- Feeding Winston’s Cows in 1973 - January 20, 2023
How precious are her words! My mother was born in 1901 I still remember her best advice, “Just turn it over to the Lord and let Him take care of it.” This is what I am praying for the people of Ukraine.
Brenda, your words are, indeed, wise. Saying prayers for the people of Ukraine.
A happy heavenly birthday to Cecilia! I love your tribute to her. I remember hearing those sayings from my own mother, except, I think she said “Once burned, twice shy” for #6.
Today is our senior pastor’s birthday, and tomorrow, March 5, is the birthday of 3 in our family – my dear husband, his little brother, and a granddaughter. That little brother of Lee’s has a daughter born March 6, and the March 5 granddaughter has a brother born March 7! Two great-grands have birthdays on the 15th and 16th. March is a busy and blessed month for our family! I believe they are in good company, sharing their birth month with Cecilia!
A truism that I remember Mama saying is ” If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Some attribute that saying to the Disney movie “Bambi.” I can’t confirm where it originated, but I heard it from my Mama first.
Deb, I laughed out loud when you sneaked in that note that the saying “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” has been attributed to the Disney movie Bambi. This wonderful old adage predates Bambi! It’s certainly advice that never goes out of style. Happy birthday to all your family members who are celebrating in March. Lots of cake!
Our mothers had many of the same sayings. Mine in Texas and yours in Canada.
My mother’s “ It doesn’t matter on a galloping horse” was said when I complained about a mistake on a dress she made. Did your mother sew for you?
I love our mothers’ responses to their daughters’ angst! In other words, “Get over it.” Yes, my mother trained as a dressmaker/milliner and despite all the farmwork she performed daily, she could still sew a fine seam. Good memories, aren’t they?
“Same difference,” I think this saying she used created the issue I have of understanding double negatives.
I have heard “same difference” too. It’s obviously one that ingrained itself in your professional memory, too! I haven’t heard it used for years. HAve you?
I try not to. another one Dad used to describe a business was “a going concern” seen it a few times.
Yes, “a going concern” is familiar to me, too. Whether it described a business or an individual, I recall it was a compliment!
Every phrase was used too by my mother. Words of wisdom truly.
I’m so glad that Mom’s sayings were familiar to you, too, Laurie. Even though they lived in different countries, they shared an era where a lot of wisdom could be imparted with very few words!
I surely enjoyed reading your mother’s words of wisdom. My mother stated many of those too. Two more that my mother used, referenced farm life. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” and “Don’t eat the seed corn.” Thanks for sharing good memories.
The sayings you have contributed are delicious! Did you notice how many sayings were farming-oriented? We didn’t grow corn as a crop where I was raised so the guidance “Don’t eat the seed corn” is new to me and I think it’s very, very wise! Thanks for going along on this trip down memory lane, Carolyn.
One I remember from my Mother was “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” Her way of admitting her mistakes.
I’m sure when your Mother said, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say,” she was very serious. That likely was a conversation-ender rather than a conversation-starter! Thanks, Margo, for remembering it.
Hi Elaine. Thank you for those reminders. My mum (who last visited us in Invermere from England in 2003 at the age of 94) used each and every one of those as she saw the need. She also had others such as “the early bird catches the worm,” “a fool and his money are soon parted,” “many a slip twist cup and lip,” and “the Lord helps those who help themselves.”
Malcolm – Oh, my, I remember those, too. I certainly haven’t heard “many a slip between the cup and lip” for a long, long time. They are a joy and I am so pleased you shared them. Thank you!
Just hit me Elaine. The title of today’s blog was itself a line that my mum used frequently as we grew up in England. Perhaps one of the things she said as I, a not yet 18 year-old, left home on that Septemebr day in 1955 to join the Air Force. It was mostly used as a warning if she thought or suspected that we were about to embark on something that did not resonate with her. “A word to the Wise” usually prerceded some dire consequence of my brothers or I embarking on something. That day, however, it was followed by advice to “keep your head down and your wits about you.”
A third dump of quite heavy snow again overnight so Okotoks and Millarville are pristine white under a partly cloudy sky.
Oh, my goodness, that’s where the title of my blog post came from… It’s another saying embedded in the very back of my mind. I’m so glad you pointed that out, Malcolm! Your mother’s advice on joining the Air Force was certainly appropriate. Thank you for sharing. Windy and springlike here in Central Texas. Scanning the forecast for rain!
My mother used many of these but the one that sticks with me most was when I was hurt. She would take care of the wound with something that stung like crazy and tell me “It’ll be well before you’re twice married”! What that meant baffled me then as it does now but somehow it did comfort me as a child. Go figure! Oddly, that was the only weird saying she had. I have to wonder who said that to her as a child.
Well, that’s one I’ve never heard before! Thanks for sharing that memory. Now the question is: Did you ever use it with your kids?
What do you think? 😉
Hi Elaine! Thank you for sharing your precious Mom’s wise words! Her words need to be read again and again.
In the first picture is she separating milk?
My Mom, Bernice Elsik Miller used to say, “what goes around comes around”. The way we treat others will come back to us.
Please keep writing and sharing special stories like this. Take care,
Kathy, I’m pleased that Mother’s wise words resonated with you. Your Mom’s “what goes around comes around’ advice is another that I heard. While some might consider these words-to-live-by as trite, for those of us who heard them as children, they still have meaning! Thanks for writing!
Hi Elaine, Happy Heavenly Birthday to your mother! She was a Pisces just like me! My mother, who left us at the early age of 61, was also an expert seamstress, so would tell her daughters when teaching them to sew to always “Measure twice and cut once”. One of her other favorite phrases was: “Just because someone jumps off of a bridge doesn’t mean that you have to do it as well”.
Our mothers would have been in complete agreement with “Measure twice and cut once.” It was rare that there was extra fabric to correct a mistake, although I recall making a few. The “just because someone jumps off a bridge” saying was another one that my mother used. It makes me wonder, are these kinds of sayings invoked these days by younger generations?
“Six of one and half a dozen of the other! and, although not necessarily a saying but a commonly heard phrase, “It doesn’t matter who started it!”
Nancy, more good sayings that press buttons in my memory. Thanks for sharing!
Centuries ago my mother’s family were seafarers. Some of her sayings were from her own mother. Like “It’s only a storm in a teacup” and “There have been worse storms at sea”. “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all is a favourite that I use with my grandchildren. Mum often said “I look like the wreck of the Hesperus “She was a great lady and I will miss her forever
Judy, I enjoyed the sayings that you have recalled. While several of mine were farm-related because of my parents’ and grandparents’ lifestyle, yours reflect the seafarers in your family. That’s interesting to me. Like your grandkids, I sometimes need to be reminded, ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.’ It’s right up there with ‘Open mouth, insert foot!’ Thanks for writing.
My Mom and Dad (and many other parents) used at least 8 of your mother’s sayings to guide me (children). I think it is wonderful to know that our parents grew up and lived in different parts of our planet but often used the same and/or similar “guidance.” Thanks for sharing.
You’re right, Janetta. It is interesting that those old sayings were very common when we were kids. There’s a slight variation in the wording of some, but the points they made were abundantly clear.
Mom didn’t like the word ‘can’t.’ She would tell us, ‘Can’t never could do anything.” Also, “do as you would be done by.” I know there were more as she was aways giving us good advice. Probably they will pop into my head throughout the day❤️
Thanks, Doris! Good advice to this day.
Thanks for sharing thoughts of your Mom. You have her smile. One of my mother’s favorites, also buried in my memory bank “Smile — it improves your face value”
Maureen, your mom’s words still are very true. I’m so glad you think I have my mother’s smile. She was a dear woman. Thanks for writing.
My favorite of my Mom’s was Many hands make the work light. Good to see your Mom shared that one too! There are so many and they have so much wisdom. A couple more to add here: Don’t count your chicks before they’re hatched. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Man proposes; God disposes. Plus one Mom heard and really loved adopting later in life: Life is short, eat dessert first! She loved that one especially when delicious desserts were around! One last caution, one for the young: Marry in haste, repent in leisure.
I have never heard Man proposes; God disposes. I’m sure my mom would have readily agreed to that. Another of her favorites was If wishes were horses beggars would ride. I agree wholeheartedly with your mom’s stance on dessert. Why wait? Thanks for the great additions to the list!
Elaine, I want to buy your family’s land. Well, I wished I could. It seems like yesterday that my wife and I visited with your mother on the farm. She was a wonderful lady, and I will always remember her.
Jim, I remember Mom’s enthusiastic recounting of your visit. She thought you two were the best. She was especially pleased that you could follow her directions right to her door. Don’t know if you remember, but rural hardly described the twists and turns to get to her top gate!