The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 13, 2013

Carol Stark: America in need of more 'momisms'

By Carol Stark
Globe Editor

— Several years ago, I attended a writing workshop where one of the sessions was called “Tell it to Mom.”

The idea was that reporters should gauge the relevance and interest of the story they are working on by hypothetically sitting down and telling the story to their mother. If they couldn’t explain the story to their own mother, well, they probably needed to do some more work.

The workshop could have been much improved if there had been a session called “Things Your Mom Tells You.” Entire nations could — and should — be built on the wisdom of mothers.

In fact, as I reflect on this Mother’s Day, almost everything in life could be improved via ‘momisms.’

I grew up hearing this one from my own mother: “Pretty is as pretty does.”

Obviously, my mom’s last name is not Kardashian. She would use it if she thought I was preening in the mirror too long. In our house, conceit was a dirty word.

But as irritating as that little saying was to me, I can’t help but wish that more mothers would preach it today.

Then, of course, there was her version of the Golden Rule: “If you are nice to someone, they will be nice to you.”

In theory, that should be true. Sadly, there are some who won’t reciprocate.

Here are a few more “momisms” that should be part of our regular conversation:

“I don’t care who started it.” (Tell that to the Democratic and Republican parties.)

“Your face is going to freeze like that.”

“Your hands are not broken.”

“No one said life is fair.”

“There are two options for dinner: take it or leave it.”

“Don’t run with scissors.”

“You’re going to put your eye out.”

“Are you going out dressed like that?”

“Cupcakes are not breakfast food.” (Unless, of course, they are topped with bacon.)

“Do I look like your maid?” (That’s a good one for all occasions.)

“Don’t make me stop this car.” (Mom really did that once. As I recall, all three of us girls got spankings. She never had to stop that car again.)

Times like that might have been followed by “Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Then there was “Don’t get smart with me.” I always wanted to ask Mom if I should get dumb with her, but I thought better of it. The fly swatter was too close for much back talking.

A coworker told me her mother repeatedly said “I don’t know why I bother telling you kids anything. It goes in one ear and out the other.” She said her mother said it so often that her little sister, when she told anyone a secret, would whisper in one ear and hold her hand over the other so the words wouldn’t leak out.

My publisher, Mike Beatty, who is probably one of the most positive people I know, says his mom preached to her sons: “Always do your best, and always be positive.” Now I know where he gets his attitude.

As for us skeptics in the newsroom, there’s a little sign that reads: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Fortunately, I’ve never felt the need to go to those lengths — except for maybe that one time she stopped the car.

All my love to you, Mother. See, I really was paying attention to what you had to say.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email Follow Carol Stark on Twitter @carolstark30.