This past week I have heard this statement twice and it got me thinking. Yeah, my mom really did raise me right. As did my grandparents and my dad.
The first time I heard this, I was at an inservice. It’s a myth that teachers have off in the summer. I pulled out my salad while everyone else headed for whatever was brought in. No biggie. I am used to this. I bring my lunch all the time. As I was opening the lid to the container of my salad, the presenter walks by and says, “Your momma raised you right.” I took this to mean I eat my vegetables because my mom served them to me when I was growing up. I smiled and said, “Yes she did.” The whole situation made me flashback to pulling weeds on the farm every summer, wiping sweat as I went row after row hoping not to step on a snake. My grandparents, who lived right up the road from my parents, took care of my sister, cousin and me, while our parents went to work. They had a huge garden, modestly sized patch, and a field of sweet corn which grew enough produce for our family, theirs, and my cousin’s. Eventually they grew so much corn, we had the chance to sell it in front of their house. If we picked it, we could sell it, and keep the money we made. We took turns, and I don’t ever recall there being a fight about whose turn it was. We just rotated. Though I hated pulling the weeds, I loved almost everything that came from the garden and the patch except the bugs.
The second thingI thought of when I was eating my salad was HAVING to eat the vegetables. Because my grandparents gave us so much produce, we usually heard “Do you know how hard Grammy and Poppy worked to get these vegetables to grow? Now eat them.” Things like asparagus, broccoli and green beans were regulars on our dinner plates. I was not a fan back then, but sure love them today. I recall one night sitting at the table long after everyone had finished staring at some pickled beets. Oh boy. That smell, that color-bright purple! To me they tasted like dirt. Finally after becoming cemented to the chair, I plugged my nose and ate them as fast as I could. I’m still not a fan of pickled beets, but I do like them grilled.
Yesterday while I was at the gym, I noticed a towel on the machine I was getting ready to use. I politely asked the woman next to me if the towel was her’s and she said no. So I took it and put it in the dirty towel bin. When I came back to the machine, I noticed the woman was done with her exercises, and I told her I was concerned about what the area would look like once the gym changed to staying opened 24 hours. I had visions of coming in and there being dirty towels everywhere and empty water bottles laying around. She said it is like that at the Y she goes to. The girl who opens in the morning is constantly having to clean up after others. As I am putting my weights away after using them, she said, “Our mothers raised us right.” I took this to mean we put things back when we are done with them.
The woman left shortly after that conversation, and I had a flashback to cleaning my room at my parents’ house. Growing up, my sister I were expected to have our rooms perfectly cleaned. Toys, books, clothes, and shoes needed to be put in their place. Once a week our mom would remind us to clean our rooms. Things were to be picked up and put away, and not stuffed into the closet or shoved under the bed. I recall my mom getting so frustrated with us for not cleaning our rooms, that she came up the stairs with a trash bag threatening to throw everything away that was still out of its place. We moved like lightning putting toys back in the toy box, hanging up clothes, and making our beds. Eventually she made her way back downstairs, and we realized we could breathe again. Our things were safe for another week.
Little moments like pulling weeds, sitting at the table until all the vegetables are gone, and cleaning a room at a record pace are what helped develop my character and work ethic. I still hate pulling weeds, but will in our deck boxes. I love eating most vegetables. Fennel, I have tried you many ways. Licorice is not my thing. My house is probably is as neat as it’s going to get with two dogs and a husband who still thinks he’s 12. I do know I have the best family, who has always supported me no matter what. Even if a threat or two was issued, the job still got done.