Things Your Mother Says

23 September 2009

Well, my mother says them, anyway.

I’m going back to spend time with her in a couple of weeks (she lives about 50 miles north of London) and I know I will be constantly told “Mind the oven; it’s hot” and “Be careful with that knife; it’s sharp”. As though I could have managed to reach my ripe old age without understanding that ovens get hot and that knives that aren’t sharp aren’t much use.  I’ve lived away from home since I was 18 without too many burns and haven’t stabbed anyone yet.

When we were children, she often accused us of “treating the place like a hotel”.  Nothing unusual in that, you may think.  All parents have said it at some time or other to their teenage children.  But it WAS a hotel!  When we pointed this out to her, of course we were told not to answer back.

And now whenever we speak on the phone, she says “You sound miles away”.  Failing a move to the Outer Hebrides by my mother and my decamping to Antarctica, we really couldn’t be much further apart.   

Mothers tell me that they always told themselves that they wouldn’t say THAT to their children, then find themselves churning out the same cliches their mothers did.  I’ve no children but I’ve found myself saying to young women I work with who are complaining about the cold “Well, you’d be a bit warmer if you wore more clothes”.   I cringe when I realise what it must sound like. 

Maybe it’s in our genes. 



  1. Uh-huh!

    I cringed the day I said, “Because I’m your teacher and I said so,” to my Year 2 class [long before I was a mother].

    But I have never said, “Children should be seen and not heard”!!

    And they would be warmer if they wore more clothes and/or singlets and/or socks!! What’s the use of long pants, a jumper and a scarf if one is wearing sandals or thongs on one’s feet?

    In the words of a departed Australian actor: “You tell ’em, love, you tell ’em!”

  2. I don’t think I trot out the same cliches that my mother did (my children might disagree) but I’m sure I have some (plenty??) that are all my very own.
    My mother died almost twenty years ago aged 59 and she always used to say that “we’d miss her when she was gone”. We do, mum, we still do.

  3. I have to resist being ‘mother’ to my adult son who’s presently living in our house. I know that it’s his business if he doesn’t eat breakfast, or stays up after midnight on a working night, but I want to tell him its wrong. It’s really hard work not to say anything, but I am winning. Most of the time.

  4. My daughter, than aged about 3, wailed, “I want a biscuit”. I automatically prompted, “Please may I have a biscuit?”, which she repeated. But then I replied, “No, it’s nearly lunchtime”, which must have made her wonder if it was worth the effort.

    Years later, she said something similar and I asked, “What’s the magic word?”. Without a pause, she said, “NOW!”. But it was with a smile…

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