She opened her mouth and her mother came out.

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Me and Mum in 1974, with my toy Winnie.


The first thing that I recall my mother saying to me that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, occurred just after I had had a paddling with the Board of Education. The Board of Education was a piece of wood, shaped into a large spoon with the words The Board of Education painted on it in fancy font.

It was displayed above the door in the kitchen. It came into play when you had truly been hideous, which was not that often because of your fear of the Board of Education.

Anyway, I had just had my bum whacked several times when my Mum piped up with “Trust me, this hurts me more than it hurts you.”


It was only years and years later that I got it. I had given my son a smack for going postal on his own brother that it made perfect sense. It DID hurt me more, and I stopped smacking my kids. Mum was right. Who knew?

And as the years passed, the words that sprang from her mouth started to come out of my own, and I was not really in control of them. They include, but are not limited to the following.

“Sit up straight.”

“Use your knife and fork.”

“Brush your teeth. Properly. Go and do them again.”

“Well, if Will asked you to jump off the Harbor Bridge, would you do it?”

“Well I could have done that.” In the instance that you ask one child to fetch the other child and they just stand next to you are holler their siblings name.

These are but a few.

The truth be known, I am not worried about the fact that I am turning into my mother, as she is pretty tops. I use margarine now, because my Mum did. I insist on no tomato sauce bottles on the table, but a jug of the decanted condiment instead. Every night we use real napkins and we never, ever have the television on during dinner, because we are “not animals.” I am empathetic to those less fortunate than me, and I find it hard to walk past a homeless person and not give them a few gold coins. All of this I attribute to the genetic material that I got from her. (Along with an impressive rack!)

Did your Mum have “good scissors”?

Growing up, we had “good scissors” in our house. They lived in the linen cupboard along with Mum’s sewing kit. Occasionally I would go and get the “Good Scissors” and cut all the dolls hair off. Mum would find me and shriek. “Not the good scissors!” Cut to now, and I too have “good scissors.” They live in the knife block, and I tend to lose my block when I find them in the backyard, or in the garage. “Not the good scissors!” I cry, before chastising the perpetrator and returning them to their rightful place.

The other term that was frequently directed at me was “You look like the Wreck of the Hesperus” and I had no idea what it meant.

The Wreck of the Hesperus was actually a poem about a ship in a hurricane, first published in 1842. It quite obviously, got wrecked. It was in the 1950’s that the term “Wreck of the Hesperus” became a common colloquialism for looking shabby. I still hear it from time to time and run my fingers through my hair, while inspecting my face for evidence of food.

As I got older, my mother became more and more interesting in my face. Specifically, was I moisturizing? Was I using an eye cream? Every night? “Because you look very dry around your eyes and those small wrinkles are contagious. And would it kill you to put the kettle on? Oh and I have to tell you what your father has gone and done now….”

And just what is this wigwam that you are making for a gooses bridle? Whatever you have you been smoking Mum, time to give it a rest.

But for me, it will always be about the application of a bright lip. Just the other day I was running out the door to do some “errands” when I spotted myself in the mirror. I was looking like a bit of a mess; dare I say like the Wreck of the Hesperus? There was a 99% chance that I would run into actual people and I had no time to groom myself into a more acceptable state.

And her voice came into my head, as a result of her saying it to me more than a thousand times in my lifetime.

“You need a bright lipstick…”

And turns out, I really did.

What are your fondest Mother-isms?

And where you really born in a barn?