(Photo by D. Anschutz • Source :ThinkStock)
(Photo by D. Anschutz • Source :ThinkStock)

One of the benefits of being older is that my parents came from a generation totally different from today’s parents. Thanks to the hardships they suffered coming out of world wars and a depression they emerged with a level of self-reliance that they felt the need to pass on to me and my siblings.

The Family Pecking Order

Being the baby of the family had some advantages and disadvantages. One big advantage, I got away with murder. My older brother and sister constantly berated my folks for how light they were with my punishment compared to theirs.

The down side of having an older brother and sister was sometimes like having four parents. Older somehow meant we can tell you what to do and we are big enough to back it up. As a result I’ve always had a problem with authority. I like being in charge of my life.

Mom Prepared Us For Life

The cultural norm of those days missing from today is that when you turned 18 you were shown the doorstep. You got a job, fended for yourself, and if you still lived at home you paid rent, did work, but still had to follow the rules of the house.

But living outside your parents home was a lot more than just partying and working. Mom knew we had to know more — much more. And she was determined to teach us whether we wanted to learn or not.

Summer School

No, I didn’t attend summer school. At least not the one the local school system provided. Mom had her own classroom in the kitchen during summer vacation. All summer long it was, “What’s 9 times 8?” And, “How do you spell “nomenclature?” It seemed easier to learn than resist. But I knew the multiplication, and long division.

The Finer Things In Life

Mom knew that health was important. She knew that without her help we’d starve before the age of 19 on our own. So, we all learned to cook, and bake, and clean. Cookbook study was as important as any other schoolbook.

We also had to learn to iron clothes. Mom knew clothes make the man and clean, ironed clothes would say a lot about the kind of person I was to potential employers.

She also knew that things happen to clothes. Buttons fall off, seams rip so the need to sew was also a critical part in my informal education. Not with a sewing machine but by hand. This came in very handy in the military.

Last but not least, a library card. We all learned from an early age that reading was the gateway to success. Schooling would only take you so far. Knowing when the War of 1812 took place was nice but, the ability to find out how and why it started was only available. And the answer to those questions was found in books. So I read a lot as a kid. Still do.

Some Final Thoughts

All the things we learned at mom’s knee are just as important today as they were the day we learned them. When I’m on the road speaking it’s nice to be able to iron my shirts and ties if needed. Without the big burn mark on the back.

If the wife is away I’m not sentenced to days of TV dinners. I can eat well any time. And if a button falls off I’m more than capable to taking care of that little chore.

If I need information I know the process to find it. And I know what 9x8 is without a calculator. If you had a mom like mine then take a minute to thank her. She made my daily life so much easier.

If you’re a new mom think about how to prepare your children for that cold cruel world on the other side of the front door.

Do they know what 9x8 is?

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