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…and other pearls of motherly wisdom

By Andrea Hagan


Break out the high ball glasses, it’s time for motherly advice circa England, 1878!

While recently on vacation, I stumbled upon a funky gift shop with a great selection of odd ball merchandise.  A little pocket sized reference book “Don’ts for Mothers” caught my eye.  Intrigued by the title, I flipped through and read the introduction/admonishment: this book “ought not to be listlessly read, merely as a novel or as any other piece of fiction[. . . .]” Oh contraire, no listless reading here!  I immediately headed for the checkout line when I landed on this tidbit – “Don’t feel it necessary to wash your infant’s head with brandy.”  A brandy bath?  Now, bathtub gin I’ve heard of, but I’m unfamiliar with brandy as part of your child’s hair care routine. What other maternal knowledge has been lost to antiquity?!  Let’s read on and find out, shall we?


On Potty training:
“Don’t allow a babe’s clothes to become wet with urine.  Children can be taught cleanliness, by putting a vessel under their lap when there is a sign of evacuation and will soon be not content to do without it.  This practice may begun at five or six weeks.”
FIVE OR SIX WEEKS!  This idea is actually big in the crunchy community.  Alicia Silverstone is a big proponent of “elimination communication” or just watching closely and holding baby over the potty before you think he or she is about go.  While I’m a somewhat crunchy mommy, I just never got into this, diapers just seemed easier. Although now with a two and a half year old daughter who flat out refuses to use her potty, I can see the appeal of beginning the training earlier, when “NO” has yet to enter the vocabulary!


On dealing with the crushing disappointment of failing to give your husband a male heir:
“Don’t be disappointed when you learn that “it” is a girl and not a boy.  Don’t let that disappointment tinge your treatment of your girls.  A girl is every bit as important to this world as a boy.”
Just take a page from Kim Kardashian’s play book and when at first you first don’t succeed, (allegedly, per US Weekly, and if you can’t trust US Weekly for truth in reporting then who can you trust I ask?) spend big bucks with IVF and gender selection to ensure you give Kayne a boy and keep that gravy train a going!


On dressing your child:

“Don’t talk about dress but be careful always to have your own dress neat and well-fitted . . . . By these means, children will form the habit of dressing well.”

Hum, I don’t think the sweats that I’ve worn for two days in a row passes muster.  Okay, I know I own pants that require the use of a belt somewhere around here….


On decorating the nursery:

“Don’t hang the nursery walls with paintings of bad quality.  The horrid daubs and bad engravings that usually disfigure nursery walls are enough to ruin the taste of a child.”

Ah, words to live by.  What, you don’t have an original Picasso above your baby’s crib?  Well, I just hope you can live with yourself knowing that you’ve singlehandedly ruined your child’s artistic palate.  Although if your horrid nursery daubs keep your child from growing up and majoring in Art History in college, then maybe this one should be a “do” instead of a “don’t.”


On Discipline:

“Don’t punish a child too harshly.  A punishment should always be as mild as it can be.  Small children may be sent to bed without supper or tied to an arm-chair, or sent out of the room and forbidden to return.”

Can someone say referral to the Department of Children’s Services?


On raising a high spirited daughter:

“Don’t be afraid if your daughter should acquire masculine habits, or rough manners.  As growing children they should have free use of their limbs and are likely to be the most graceful and healthy in adulthood.”

Thank goodness!  I often feel that I’m in a cage match with Ronda Rousey, AKA my toddler daughter, whether it be trying to change her clothes, brush her teeth, or her best MMA move, the lap sitting that turns into wallowing that then turns into her elbow being thrust into my pick a body part – sternum, chin, stomach, breast, etc.  All I know is that her baby brother’s gonna have to acquire “rough manners” pretty quickly if he wants to survive in this household.


And my personal favorite:
“Don’t permit a youth to play the flute, blow the bugle or any other wind instrument.  It is injurious to health; the lungs and windpipe are brought into unnatural action by them.”
How many youth must suffer before we act?  I say this category must be expanded to include the piccolo, horn and trombone.  Woodwind instrumental injury is an avoidable injury.  We need a Sarah McLachlan PSA ASAP!  Although I’m not sure Sarah is a woodwind musician.  Scratch that, let’s go with Kenny G., that easy listening elevator music, maybe he’s playing his saxophone in the elevator and because he’s so focused on said wind instrument, his lustrous hair gets caught in the elevator door, leading to his untimely demise.  Now, that’d get your attention more than those angel eyed dog and cat commercials ever could!


As I finish the “Don’ts” and my glass of Brandy, I realize that many years from now we’ll look back on the “don’ts” that today’s experts have come up with and laugh at the absurdity.  The bottom line?  Follow your motherly instincts and do the best job you can.  Now that’s a toast (or a bath?), so drink (or bathe) up!
Hope all the Mommies out there had a wonderful Mother’s day, till next month!

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