Motherly pearls of wisdom can last a lifetime
You hate to admit but mom was right — about everything. Brainerd lakes area residents and those from the area reflect for Mother’s Day on the words of wisdom their mothers shared and the advice their moms gave that seemed laughable, dubious or incredulous — at least at first.
BRAINERD — Mothers have always had plenty to say to their children. But whether a mom’s words of wisdom are welcomed may be another matter.
Jana Johnson, Carolyn Macy, Sue Seidl and Cheyenne Syvertson know this all too well, having given and received advice — sometimes unsolicited — as a child or as moms themselves.
“Moms have the best advice!” said Seidl, a 58-year-old Eagan resident with relatives in the Brainerd lakes area.
“You accept it knowing not that they know best but that someday you will aspire to be like them,” Johnson said of advice from her mom, Rosemary Schneiderhan, a retired school administrator.
While children may not always heed mom’s words of wisdom, they appear to heed the advice to give mom a call on her day. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8, and more calls are made on the holiday than any other day of the year, according to History.com, and phone traffic can spike by as much as 37% that day.
Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated in the U.S. by presenting mothers with gifts and flowers, making it one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending, according to History.com. While younger children make gifts, do chores, or pick out cards to commemorate moms, adult children may find they are also reminded of their mom’s ability to turn a saying into a lifelong lesson they now repeat.
“My mom used to say this little ditty: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make do. Or do without,’” Macy said the Friday before Mother’s Day. “I have repeated that saying frequently.”
Seidl worked as a trainer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services before she retired. She has now taken to writing down what her mother told her. Her mom died six years ago.
“I was just reminiscing about all the advice she had given me over the years, and I thought I would journal it,” Seidl said. “I just kind of wanted to find a way to remember her.”
Among the advice Seidl received from her mom: If someone is mean to you, they're probably jealous of you. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. Let your conscience be your guide.
“A lot of them now sound pretty dated now like, ‘Don't go to the store with curlers in your hair’ — you know, things like that — but, oh, yeah, I'm sure I did roll my eyes at a lot of them,” Seidl recalled of the advice she received from her mother while growing up.
Beverly Perkins, Seidl’s late mom, also had these words of wisdom for her: Always set the table to eat, even if you're eating alone. Use the china and silver and crystal. Be careful not to criticize your husband's mom or his family.
“‘Always be careful of what you put in writing’ — I remember her saying that long before people were doing email or texting and that’s even more important now … because it’s so permanent,” Seidl said of the written word. “You can’t take it back, there’s no disputing it.”
Seidl said she has tried to give advice to her two daughters who are now both grown.
“I've tried to pass along the advice that my mom has given me,” Seidl said with a chuckle. “‘Let your conscience be your guide’ was one of the hardest things … because it’s really hard (to get away with anything) with ‘Let your conscience be your guide.’”
Syvertson graduated from Pequot Lakes High School in 2013 and now lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But her 65-year-old mother, Kim Utesch, lives in Pine River and works as a technical writer and as a stage manager for the Stage North Theatre Co., a Brainerd nonprofit.
“My mother always said — every time I worried as a kid of things ahead or things I could not control or things I couldn't possibly know — she would just say, ‘We'll cross that bridge when we come to it,’” Syvertson said.
Utesch’s sage advice for her daughter stuck with Syvertson, a 27-year-old clinical social worker who works as a therapist in private practice with children, teenagers and adults.
“She doesn't know that that still stays in my mind all of the time when now, as an adult, I still sometimes worry about things to come and things I cannot know,” Syvertson said. “And I hear my mom say again, ‘We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.’”
Syvertson said she believes children and adults sometimes worry so much that they forget to live in the present.
“My mom’s message brings me back to the now. … I think I sometimes rolled my eyes but it always relaxed me,” Syvertson said. “Maybe that’s what she hoped for me when she said it. Maybe she also said it to make me quiet — I was endlessly chatty!”
Johnson lives in Pequot Lakes and works as a real estate agent. The 53-year-old has three children who are almost full grown.
Johnson’s high school graduation present was an electric typewriter. She said she no longer used the typewriter by her sophomore year of college, but the typing skills were invaluable.
“Long before laptops or a personal computer in every home, my mom forced me to take typing class,” Johnson said. “I put it off all through high school, begrudgingly taking it the final semester of my senior year at her insistence.”
Johnson said the test for her high school typing class required putting a dish towel over her hands while typing what the teacher dictated. She also said she was the oldest in that class at the time — a senior surrounded by mostly freshman and sophomores — and embarrassed.
“Who knew that something that is second nature now, that we take so for granted, would have been something that my mom would have had to pretty much bribe me to do,” Johnson said. “I thought, ‘Oh, yuck! I don't even like to do stuff like that. I'm not going to be a secretary.’”
Turns out, mom knows best.