The other day I mentioned that if we'd just done what our mothers told us to do -- no questions, no arguing -- we'd all probably be better off. That got me thinking: Is that really true?
Well, I know it would have been true with my kids, if they'd listened to their mother (which they did more often than not). She wanted, above all, for them to follow their dreams, make the most of themselves and make their mother proud along the way.
But what about us? What if we'd listened to our mothers? What advice did your mother offer to you as a child? In my case, the advice was more modest, more practical. But perhaps no less important. She told me to:
Drink your orange juice. In our house we began every day with a glass of orange juice. My mom bought it frozen, in a can, and mixed it with water. It was pretty inexpensive that way. She thought it was important that we get a little fruit inside of us, and enjoy the benefits of vitamin C, which she believed warded off colds and other diseases. This was long before Nobel-prize winning scientist Linus Pauling claimed that large doses of vitamin C reduce the risk of getting a cold. Those claims have since been questioned, but the latest research, according to WebMD, does suggest at least some minimal positive effects from vitamin C in reducing cold symptoms. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and helps reduce inflammation, and offers some protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
Eat your vegetables. Well, we know vegetables are good for us. They have no cholesterol, are low in fat and calories, and provide many vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber. My mother served up a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, peas and string beans. (If only she hadn't overcooked them and served them up limp and soggy.) When I was a kid I hated broccoli and cauliflower; but now in my maturity I actually like these two vegetables. (I'm still trying to develop a taste for spinach though.) One other benefit: the vitamins and minerals you ingest in vegetables are more beneficial than those you take as supplements because of other active ingredients in the food.
Sit up straight. My mother had pretty good posture herself, and was always telling us kids to "Sit up straight!" I wish I'd listened to her. I developed stenosis of the upper spine in my late 40s -- from sitting at a desk and hunching over a computer, said my doctor -- that left me with a numb, tingling left arm, and aches and pains in my shoulders. Fortunately, I did finally listen to my physical therapist (not the first time; but after my third trip to the doctor); and so now I try to sit up straight -- I try not to sit for long periods of time at all -- and I do my stretching exercises to keep my back and neck loose and limber. But I do realize, if I had just listened to my mom, I could have avoided all that!
Brush your teeth, and don't forget to floss. My mother's father was a dentist, and my mother was very proud of the fact that "I still have all my own teeth" up to the day she died at age 89. I remember her giving us kids lessons in how to brush -- up and down, not across -- and how to use dental floss. I must confess, however, that while I've always been pretty good at brushing my teeth, I still have had my share of cavities. Recently, my current dentist recommended using those softpics, the little brushes that fit between your teeth, and I've found them very helpful -- and, believe it or not, fun to use!
Tommy, go outside and play! My mother had four children, and so, honestly, I think she wanted us out of the house in order to give her some peace and quiet and time to herself. But I did have a tendency to spend too much time sprawled on the couch reading a book, or flopped on the floor watching TV, or lying on my bed listening to music. So getting outside for some fresh air and exercise was definitely good advice. We all know the benefits of exercise -- which a lot of people get these days by running or rowing or climbing stairs in a stuffy old fitness club -- but really, I think it's better to go outside and take a walk or ride a bike or play a little tennis or golf.
Anyway, thanks Mom for the advice. I wish I'd taken more of it!