Mom’s Rules And How I Broke Them (And Why She Was Right!)

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retrochick.JPGIvy says:

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise anyone to learn that when I was a kid, I’d break the rules as much as possible. Finally, to keep peace in the house, I stopped breaking so many rules, but I vowed that when I had my own house, I’d not have any of those same rules. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve spent some time breaking those rules and I’ve learned that most (not all!) of them had a really good reason for it. Let’s take a look.

“Don’t stand and stare into the refrigerator”

This might have been the one thing my mom and I fought the most about. If I spent more than 30 seconds staring into the fridge, mom would be on me like white on rice, yelling at me not to stand around staring into the refrigerator. Naturally, the first thing I did when I got a house of my own, is open my refrigerator and stand there staring into it for as long as I felt like it.

The truth is, it really does let the cold out, and you shouldn’t stand around staring into the fridge. But how are you going to decide what to eat without opening the refrigerator?

“We don’t turn on the air conditioning until June.”

Growing up in north central Indiana, we didn’t need air conditioning as much as we do here in Tennessee. But sometimes we’d have days in May that were 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity, and still Mom wouldn’t turn on the AC. “Not until June,” she’d say, as I languished half-naked in front of the fan, dabbing my forehead with a washcloth.

By the time I moved out, I was living in Tennessee. As any Tennessean knows, there are times when you need to turn on the AC as early as April, sometimes even March. Mom had calmed down on that rule when we moved here. But she was still pretty strict about making sure it was miserably hot before turning on the AC.

I have a programmable thermostat that takes all the guesswork of turning on the AC or not. When it’s in AC mode, the house is kept at 76 during the day and 78 at night. The thermostat does all the work of deciding whether or not we need heat, AC or nothing at all. Still, I do sometimes long to sleep half-naked under a fan on a hot night, so sometimes I turn it all off. Funny how things that once were miserable are now somewhat of a treat.

“Don’t yank your clothes off the hanger.”

That used to drive my mom nuts. I never understood why until I became the person fetching hangers out of people’s closets. There’s nothing worse than a pile of tangled hangers in the closet. Especially when a bunch of them end up on the floor. Now, as an adult, I yank my clothes off the hanger and then I neatly put the hanger back. Oh, and I make my kids do the hanger-fetching, so they understand why you shouldn’t yank your clothes off the hangers.

“Change your underwear every day! What if you’re in a car wreck?!”

Because, you know, there’s nothing worse than being in a car wreck with dirty underwear. Actually, some of the wrecks I’ve had have nearly caused me to wet myself anyway. But stinky drawers are a bad thing whether you’re in a car wreck or not, so I’m on the clean underwear every day train now.

“No dessert until you’ve finished enough of your dinner.”

I remember when my mom would give me an amount of bites I had to take before I could have dessert. I’d put a miniscule amount of food on my fork and hope to get away with that counting as a bite. It never worked. I vowed when I grew up that I’d eat cake for breakfast if I wanted to, or have my dessert before dinner. And I did, many times. But I’ve learned as I grow older that eating the right foods really does make me feel better, look better, and be generally happier. Now, I hardly ever bother with dessert at all, even when I’m at my mom’s. My willpower is awesome, she says.

Now, Home Eccers, it’s your turn: tell me what rules your mom had that you broke shamelessly as an adult. And was your mom right, or are you right?

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14 thoughts on “Mom’s Rules And How I Broke Them (And Why She Was Right!)”

  1. Oh, I miss the south!! Now in my upbringin’ it wasn’t just my mamma making the rules….we also had my grandma and my godmother (the queen of all etiquette) enforcing them.

    1) Clean your house when company is coming over….doesn’t matter who the company is, but you want your house to be clean. I used to not bother with this but now I am all aboard that train! There is nothing worse than having a nice conversation with a guest and then being distracted by the mess you didn’t realize was around (like the socks under the sofa pillow, the breakfast dishes sitting on the table, the smear marks on the tv, etc.).

    2) Always have a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge. I live in the wild west now and don’t reckon many people in my house would enjoy this southern beverage. But I sure do like it when I am back home visiting and wish I had a glass at this very moment!

    3) Take your clothes out of the dryer as soon as it buzzes. I used to HATE this when I was a teenager. I’d let my clothes stay in there as long as possible. I loathe folding laundry, even today and still find myself getting lazy with those last loads. But I have learned that folding that stuff ASAP makes for less wrinkled clothes and they fold nicer. Nothing worse than spending an hour folding laundry and then having a bunch of wrinkled clothes hanging in the closet! (Mom was right, still is).

    4) No white after labor day. I don’t know if this has been amended by the fashion police or not…but I never really listened to this much anyway. I’ve always loved a nice white sweater in the fall and winter. However….I guess I do refrain from white shoes (except the kids) during those seasons.

    5) Always have a book going. What you are reading is a great conversation filler should there be a lull. It makes you look quite fabulous to always have an answer to “Reading anything interesting these days?”. Plus….it is a great escape.

    **I suppose I agree with most of what my mamma and family taught us. I suppose I’ll have my own rules to pass on to my children that they will, hopefully, take into consideration when they are grown. For me the rules have a lot to do with me wanting to give my children a taste of the south, their history. We don’t live there but there mamma sure does pass those rules on like we do!

  2. Hello!

    I really enjoyed this post. My mom is a very wise woman. While she would be considered a very easy going and laid back, she had lots of rules for us growing up (can’t live in complete chaos, you know). As an adult I must say, these rules made a lot of sense. I didn’t understand the why behind them at the time, but now I really respect her wisdom.

    The Manners Police will probably come to get me on this but there is one of Mom’s rules that I strongly disagree with.

    Mom’s Rule #43

    When eating Corn on the Cob, you MUST butter the corn by spreading the butter on with a knife. The Corn must NEVER touch the stick of butter; because we don’t want the butter to be all yucky for future meals.

    I grew up on a farm and we ate a LOT of sweet corn. I like it dripping in butter. (seriously, if you are going to eat corn on the cob, do it right) It was so hard to get an adequate amount of butter on the corn, without if melting off the knife. As a child I vowed that when I had my own house we would always run the corn all over the stick of butter and get every inch evenly coated in butter.

    I’ve been happily violating Mom’s Butter Rule for the past 18 years. Mom comes to eat at our house and violates her own rule. Life is good.


  3. I’ve been known to give my kids dessert WITH dinner – they can choose what to eat first. I’ve found if I wait till after dinner and they know it’s coming they’ll “save” far too much room for it and still be hungry. If I give it to them with dinner they know what it is, how much is coming and eat accordingly. We don’t do dessert often at all, but it’s really worked out for us.

  4. I lol’d at the last one, since I just finished lunch. I was dead-set on making and eating a salad as part of my meal, but because I’m so tired (from being sick), the salad was the last thing I made. My “reward,” if I made the stupid salad and ate it, would be to eat one of the chocolate chip cookies my roommate made. Lo and behold, I finished the salad and instead went and brushed my teeth – so I could take a nap.

  5. There are SO many things I do now, just because I’m an adult and I can!

    1. I drink pop for breakfast.
    2. I spin on barstools.
    3. I ride office chairs across the floor.
    4. I ride shopping carts thru the parking lot.
    5. I eat sunflower seeds in the car. (But, Mom, you were right–they ARE too messy to eat in the house.)

    I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind, that make me smile whenever I do them.

  6. My mom’s only rule because she was never around…always working was do not ever wear red nailpolish or red lipstick, something about not being ladylike. I broke it but it doesn’t look good on me so I stick to my hot pink instead.

    The other rules were no friends over until your homework was done, get real I did it every day because no one was home until 8 or 9 pm. Ahhh where was child services when I was growing up. I let myself in every day after school and never lost my key. I cooked dinner for everyone and did my chores starting at 7 years old. My 7 year old barely knows where the kitchen is.

  7. When I got out on my own (a long time ago), my only strategy for running a household was to do the polar opposite of everything that I grew up with. You know what? It worked. ;o)

    The only thing I follow more nearly than I would like has to do with clutter: I grew up in a household of serious hoarders, and there was never a place to put anything away properly. Consequently, I never learned strategies of how to put things away, so I have to put an awful lot of conscious thought and probably unnecessary expense into getting things stored properly. It didn’t help that I ended up buying a house that didn’t have any storage space to speak of. I’m slowly dealing with that via remodeling, and my goal, when I finish the remodeling, is to have nothing sitting out that I don’t want out. Fortunately, I am really good at not buying too much (because I’m both picky and cheap), and sticking to a minimalist Zen-modern decor (which makes the out-of-place stuff stick out like a sore thumb).

    The thing my mother taught me that I do follow is this: live your life as if it is going to be printed on the front page of the newspaper. This has saved my bacon more than once: It means I can’t be coerced into doing anything or putting up with anything to protect a secret or to save face because I don’t care who knows what about me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes – rather it means that I always accept full responsibility for my mistakes, have come to terms with them, owe nothing as a consequence of them, and am not ashamed of them. This strategy makes life a lot simpler.

  8. I WISH my mom had nagged me to sit/stand up straight, because now I am a Grade A sloucher with a little pet hunchback and it just looks really bad. It’s just not something I’m ever aware of when I’m doing it, so it’s hard to correct, you know? (If anyone has any tips for getting absent-minded 30-year-olds to stand up straight, fire away.)

    I guess my mom was pretty lax – she was a SAHM but definitely not the organised, cleaning type, we lived in total chaos bordering on filth. She did always tell me to not eat gum-balls when I had braces, and I did it occasionally anyway. (She was right.) Also she hated it when we drank or ate anything while lying on the living room couch, for obvious reasons. She was right. However, now I still eat and drink on my OWN living room couch with predictable results, BUT my couch is the colour of spilled coffee for a reason!

    • Yoga-type exercise has been helpful with correcting my posture. It’s not just a matter of remembering, it’s also a matter of strengthening the muscles involved.

  9. My mom wasn’t big on rules–she was the oldest of 6 sisters and did a stint in the Air Force, so I think she was plumb tired of enforcing or following rules.

    The only hard and fast rules I remember were:

    –NOBODY is allowed in the kitchen when she was cooking.
    –No games.

    The first, didn’t bother me until I needed to know how to cook. I was 19 before I could do more than heat up Campbell’s soups. I think she really liked the peace and quiet for at least that short time in the kitchen. Maybe she smoked pot in there. I don’t know. Kitchen was off limits.

    The second rule was a weird one. She made it sound like games were the work of the devil or something, but honestly, I think she just didn’t want to play with us or have to step on pieces of Monopoly or something.

    My mom was kind of weird.

  10. My mom had a rule that everyone must be home by 5:30, because that was when dinner was served. If you got home at 5:45, it was likely that dinner would have already started and you had missed out. I never appreciated how liberating that rule is when I was growing up. She always knew when to start dinner, didn’t have to keep dinner warming in the oven, always had time to get the dishes done afterwards, and even had time to watch some television in the evenings or get some sewing done. I wish I could have that rule. My husband grew up in a family where dinner was not eaten until the father was ready, sometimes as late as 9:00 at night. I can feed the kids dinner earlier if he will be home very late, as they get pretty cranky when they are hungry, but we usually don”t have dinner until after 7:00. I barely have time to rinse the dishes and get the kids baths before getting them into bed.

    Another dinner rule that my mom had was no television during dinner. We keep that one now that we have children, mostly because they forget to eat if the tv is on.

    My mom didn’t allow anyone else in the kitchen while she was cooking either, but that was because there was almost no room for two people to work in her kitchen. I have been tempted to reinstate that rule sometimes when I am preparing dinner, because sometimes it’s really hard to focus when the kids are underfoot. Case in point, last week I was trying to make waffles and pancakes (one child likes waffles, the other likes pancakes) and I was running late and distracted by kids underfoot and forget to spray down the waffle iron in advance. What a mess.

  11. Well, my mom didn’t have many rules. She was a single mom and I guess she just didn’t have time for them, I don’t know. One I can remember is that you can’t watch TV during the day. At the time, I really didn’t get this, but now I get it. I don’t always follow it, but I see her point–go out and do something more worthwhile during the day. The other was not to use my hands to push food onto my fork. That really bugged her. However, in a pinch like with that last bit of rice, I might do it.


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