Mothers are the greatest dispensers of advice since God said, “Let there be light.” Some, not me, refer to it as maternal instinct.
My own mother gave me some splendid advice when I was growing up. Unfortunately, much of Mom’s advice shed light on nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.
Let me outline some advice my mother gave me that, to this day, I have no idea what she was talking about.
I distinctly remember my mother standing before me, with hands on her hips, scolding me for something and then saying, “Who do you think you are?”
This always disturbed me and caused me to wonder about my nativity. As a young person, I often pondered this question myself.
As with most teens, I had long moments of identity crisis. (When you are young most of your energy goes into producing hormones, and so the brain functions on low voltage.) It greatly confused me that the person who should know who I was, asked me the question I had been asking myself. If she does not know who I am, what hope do I have?
Then there was the time I asked my mother for money. She whirled around and replied, “Do you think money grows on trees?”
Up to that point, I have never given the matter much thought. I simply assumed money came from my father going to work and being paid. However, here was something new to ponder. Where does money come from, really? What added to my confusion was the name of our bank The Elm Tree Branch of First National Bank of Harrisburg. Now I was totally confused.
When I was quite young, I remember asking my mother for something in the store. I think it was some small toy that I took a fancy to and asked my mother to buy it for me. She ﬂatly refused. I complained and demanded to know why. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Because I am the mother, that’s why.”
To this day, I still do not know what in the world that statement meant. What did her being a mother have to do with buying me that toy?
When she saw my confusion, she told me, “When you have children of your own, you will understand.” I have children of my own as well as grandchildren, and I still do not know what she meant. It must be a mother thing, which is all I know.
Then there was the time I wanted to do something with some friends and my mother would not let me. “But everyone else is going,” I protested in vain. That’s when my mother gave me her spin on the situation at hand.
“What if EVERYONE jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?”
The thing that confused me was, nobody was going to jump off any cliff. In fact, nobody in his or her right mind would ever think of such a stupid thing. Nobody, that is, but my mother. I ﬁgured she must have gotten her sadistic side from her mother. It must be something mothers pass on to their daughters, because as a man, I don’t get it.
Most memorable of her nuggets of wisdom to me is that piece of advice I still abide by. Before I would leave the house, my mother would say, “Make sure you have clean underwear on in case you get in a car accident and have to go to the hospital.”
I have never ﬁgured out what clean underwear has to do with going to the hospital, but that piece of advice made for the worst day of my high school years. Just as I drove into the school parking lot one day it dawned on me that I had forgotten to put on clean underwear. Panic raced through my teenage heart like never before. I was certain some disaster awaited me around the next corridor.
By the end of the day, I was a nervous wreck. Driving home, I was sure something would happen to me, putting me in the hospital. I imagined myself being rushed into surgery and the ﬁrst thing the medical team asked was, “Check his underwear to see if it’s clean.”
Upon ﬁnding my underwear not clean, they refused me any medical attention and sent me back to my mother. To this day, I am paranoid about wearing clean, fresh underwear each day. I have my mother to thank for that.
Looking back at what I learned after years of hearing my mother’s advice, I have only one piece of wisdom to pass on to you for those moments with your mother. The next time your mom makes one of those parental off the wall statements, just smile and ask her, “When you were my age, did you walk to school or carry your lunch?”
She’ll be confused, and you’ll be even.
The one thing my mother did that I will always be grateful for is that she encouraged me to read my Bible. She bought my ﬁrst Bible for me and encouraged me to read and study it each day.
In that Bible, as a young person, I ran across a verse of scripture that has stood me in times of trouble. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:56).
Thanks Mom and Happy Mother’s Day.
[Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687- 4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@ att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.]