I was a very cheeky child.
I don’t know if it was because I was the youngest of three and the only girl, of if it was because my mother and I were polar opposites of each other, or if it was just the fact that I was a young girl and, well, young girls know everything, don’t they? Whatever the reason, I had an answer for everything.
Back then, I thought my mother made a lot of silly rules that weren’t always worth obeying. While we still don’t agree on everything, the fact is that she is my mom. And living in my parents’ house, being cared for and loved by them, I should have given them more respect, love and obedience.
There are some things that I may have moaned about to my friends at school during break time – “I’ll NEVER be like that!” I’d have sworn, before moving on to another teenage drama. But fast forward an (undisclosed amount of years) and I hear some of the things my mom tried to teach me coming out of my own mouth today! Because the phrase ‘mom knows best’ actually does hold some truth.
Some of these are life lessons, things I’ll always hold in high regard, and some of them are more light-hearted, yet I still consider them important.
These are the top 9 ways my mom knows best.
1. Mind your Ps and Qs
Hand on your mouth when you’re yawning, chew with your mouth closed, mind your Ps and Qs, respect your elders…
Me then: Yawn (with uncovered mouth), eye roll. I’m too cool for that, y’know?
Me today: No one is too cool for that. I find such delight today in experiences where politeness and respect are valued. It’s sad because they seem rarer than I remember and I’m not sure if that’s because I now live in a fast-paced city or if that’s just the way this world is heading. And I wonder…what if all mums everywhere held these values as of utmost importance? Would it be different?
2. Don’t be lazy (make an effort)
In high school, I was very active. But as soon as I escaped the nest, I went in the other direction. Partying, rather than studies, took the focus and exercise… well, that no longer existed. When I returned home for holidays, I looked more zombie than human, and I spent my days sleeping in until midday followed by little to no activity. Unfortunately, my parents, early risers to this day, weren’t very impressed by my sleeping and TV watching capabilities and openly showed their contempt of my lazy habits.
But, lo and behold, I have become a proud early riser myself!
And the attitude my parents tried to instil in me was not only to be more active but also to make an extra effort. Now, I find it hard to understand what stops people from making that extra effort – whether it’s treating others in a way you would want to be treated or going out of your way to help someone else.
However I have a tendency to take the phrase ‘the early bird catches the worm’ a bit too far sometimes, and this brings me to my next life lesson…
3. Don’t overdo it (moderation is key)
I’m one of those people who, sadly, tend to take things to the extreme. On a superficial level, this can sometimes look like a good thing, for example, exercising very frequently, and, in other situations, it looks less of a good thing, for example, eating excessively. But both of these examples relate to the same principle, i.e. overdoing things, and that is never a good thing.
So in reaching for my second or third drink as a young adult, or in having a diary that makes me exhausted by just looking at it today, my mom’s words will ring true: “Don’t overdo it.”
4. You can’t get everything you want
The word ‘want’ becomes part of a child’s vocabulary at a very early stage. As a young child, it takes the simple form of: “I want!”
At some stage, as we first begin to learn the art of manipulation, the word ‘want’ develops into ‘need’, which is technically a different thing, but is often used interchangeably. “Mommy, I need that dress!” (with pouty mouth for added effect – this too we learn at an early age when we realise its true potential)
And as a growing teen: “But her mom let’s her…” Fill in the blank with “stay out till late” or “go to that party” or other such teenage-related predicaments but it still boils down to the same meaning, i.e. I want XYZ… and I don’t understand why I can’t get what I want?!
My mom heard these phrases often and she soon developed an art for simply responding that, actually, contrary to popular belief, you can’t always get your way, you can’t always get what you want.
Still today, there are many times when I have to try to remember this. For example, choosing not to spend money I don’t have on something I don’t need, or putting aside the desire to make it all about me and trying to make it about someone else for a change.
5. Practise helps (but doesn’t necessarily make perfect – and that’s OK!)
Similar to the teaching that it’s important to make an effort, my mom was a true believer in practising for better results, so, playing the piano when I’d rather be outside with my friends, or carting me to extra water polo lessons so I’d improve in a team of natural born swimmers. But that didn’t mean she expected a child prodigy or a first team water polo player (sadly, I was neither). She had certain expectations of me but they were also practical and achievable. And as she tenderly pushed me to do something she knew I could do, she just as tenderly comforted me in times of disappointment.
6. Always eat your breakfast
My mother’s favourite life lessons are usually of the very practical kind and emphasising that I should always eat my breakfast was one of her big ones. Every morning before school, she would make sure that there would always be a substantial breakfast waiting for me.
I went through a phase in the past where I skipped breakfast altogether and I don’t know how or why I did it! Breakfast is now my favourite meal of the day and I look forward to it every morning. And it definitely does fuel your day. So you were right, mom. (This time)
7. Take your vitamin C!
I think my parents are a bit obsessive when it comes to their vitamins. The number of pills they take every day seems to have increased greatly over time. Every morning at breakfast, mom, playing pharmacist, lays out an array of pills in front of her. She divides them into hers and dad’s and uses a decent amount of breakfast-suitable liquid to ingest one vitamin after the other.
Mom’s always thought it important that we take the right vitamins, and Vitamin C plays a starring role in Mrs Knight’s Pharmacy. It is very rare to receive a text, email or Skype call from her without that familiar question being asked: “Are you taking your Vitamin C?”
While my history with Vitamin C has been bumpy, it has now become a regular part of my day and, as someone who in the past has gotten sick quite frequently, I’m proud to say I haven’t been sick in a long time. I can’t be 100% sure if it’s the Vitamin C but I know, without a doubt, that mom would say, what other logical explanation is there?!
8. Chew your food
Another valuable food/drink-related life lesson – and one that has always been a struggle for me to adhere to, and probably will continue to be until my eating energy levels decrease with age.
I love food. I love it so much that my first, eagerly anticipated bite is quickly followed by another one, and another one, and another one, with speedy swallowing in between, and an almost absence of chewing.
I grew up with twin brothers who are five years older than me and tall and skinny. Skinny doesn’t mean they didn’t eat well. On the contrary, our combined eating skills were very impressive and the term ‘leftovers’ didn’t bear much meaning in our house.
But I think I must have seen eating as some kind of race and, sadly, even with fierce male competition, I often won. “Slow down, savour your food, chew!” urged my mom, who is always the last to finish a meal.
I really do want to chew more and eat more slowly. Not only is it better health-wise, but it also helps you to savour and enjoy your meal more. But, it’s not too late! Hopefully this lesson will bear some fruit in the not too distant future.
9. Say sorry
I began this saying that my mom and I clashed a lot.
But something that has always stuck out for me are the many occasions my mom said sorry first after fights, even when we were both to blame. After passionate words said at the height of anger and slammed doors to indicate the desire to be as far away from one another as possible, a house filled with tense silence would often be broken by my mother’s soft knock at the door followed by an apology and a warm hug as we made up after harsh actions and hostile words.
It made a huge impact on me and still today I remember the joyful relief I felt after making up with her. Had it been down to me, I’m sure the apology would have come a lot later or never at all.
And, living with traces of that same stubborn pride, it’s good to keep those memories alive today.