“You stand up to her. You stand up to her and look her in the eye and tell her to stop bothering you.”
While the exact words my mom urged me to say are fuzzy, the circumstances aren’t: Tall Jean had been picking on me in my fourth grade class and after coming home in tears about it, my mom armed me with that advice. And it’s something I carry around to this day as the best piece of advice my mother gave me.
Got you wondering about what wise words your mom gave you? In honour of Mother’s Day, we asked women to share with us the best nugget of advice their mothers or grandmothers gave to them. Here’s what they had to say:
“One day while visiting my Mom after she had a minor operation, I was helping her take out the garbage. Just as we headed out the door, I could hear my two young children screaming and yelling at each other. My mom turned to me and said, ‘Don’t worry, the worst they can do is kill each other.’ It just put things into perspective about not sweating the small stuff. Because we know they really wouldn’t do that to each other.” – Heather Makin, 43, educator and mother of two, Toronto
“My grandma told me to ‘Never marry a man that couldn’t dance.’ She loved to dance and my grandpa didn’t. But I do remember her teaching us how to do the polka in her kitchen. They were great memories I’ll remember forever. And I took her advice: I married a man who loves to dance and we’ve had so much fun dancing together.” – Kerry Elliott McLaughlin, 38, daycare manager, Kelowna, B.C.
“My mom used to say about marriage: ‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” It was good advice. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning with hostile feelings. It’s better out than in.” – Shannon Carroll Wiedener, 38, proofreader, Burlington, Ont.
“My mom isn’t one for sitting down and giving advice. She’s more of a doer. That being said, her actions often prove to be great life lessons I carry with me long after they occur. Such as the “eyebrow incident”. I was 15 years old and self conscious about inheriting my father’s eyebrows. Yet, worrying about the pain, I refused to learn how to pluck my eyebrows. One day, my mom cornered me in the bathroom, braced my head against the wall and plucked. After, she looked at me and said ‘Now that wasn’t nearly so bad as you thought it would be was it?’ She was right, it wasn’t. And my eyebrows have been decently neat and tidy ever since.” – Cara Yost, 32, mother of three, Winnipeg
“My mom told me to not marry young and to be patient. So, I waited until I was 30 years old to get married, and I ended up with my best friend. Best advice ever!” – Deanna Watt, 38, bank schedule coordinator, London, Ont.
“This is from my mom’s mom to her and then my mom to me: ‘Never write anything down that you wouldn’t want the whole world to read.’ I live by this when writing emails and letters, and many times I go back and delete before sending so I don’t send anything that might come back to haunt me.” – Rhea Seymour, 41-year-old writer, Oakville, Ont.
“My mom told me to look at how a man treats his mother because it’s the best indicator of how he feels about women and how he would treat me. It has proven true over and over.” – Coeur Birmingham, Calgary
“My grandmother used to always say to me, ‘O caminho e para frente’, which is Portuguese and means: The way (path) is ahead (in front) of you. She would say this phrase so many times to me – if I was stressed about something or if I didn’t know which way to go, I’d give a big sigh and think, ‘O caminho e para frente.’ To me, it means, okay, keep going, you are on the right path.” – Nini Mendes, 33, dental hygienist, Toronto
As for me, while Jean and I did have a tussle in the hallway outside our class when I spit out the words my mom told me to, it worked. She left me alone after that. And that advice continues to make the rounds, since I’m now passing along that tip to my own little girl.
What’s the best piece of advice your mom shared with you?