How do moms pack so much wisdom into so few words?

“Nothing good happens after midnight!”

If your mom was like mine, you probably grew up hearing this kind of trite little phrase. At the time, I rolled my eyes, but have found myself repeating them as I get older. My mom knew what she was talking about, although my fourteen-year-old self would never admit that.

Many people in my life have shared various “mom-isms” over the years that have turned out to be thoughtful, useful, and realistic. How do they pack so much wisdom into so few words? Inspired by the wise women in my life, I reached out to friends, family, and other Verily writers for their favorite “mom-isms” to share with you. Who knows—maybe you’ll find yourself passing along some of these sentiments in your own life!

“You have to teach people how to treat you.”

I’m such a “yes” girl, and really struggle to say “no” when I need to. This was my mom’s reminder about my dignity and making sure I'm properly standing up for it. – Elizabeth

“If you can read, you can cook.”

Prior to college, I hadn’t done a lot of cooking—I was very blessed to grow up in a home where family dinners were the norm, and I never really helped (sorry, Mom!). Once I moved off-campus my junior year, though, it was clear I could no longer rely on the dining hall to keep me healthy and happy: I had to cultivate good cooking habits.

What had always made me apprehensive about cooking was the sheer number of ingredients and steps in recipes for my favorite dishes. How could one person do all of that? Thankfully, my mom kept me rooted with the helpful reminder that all I needed to do to get started was to read the recipe. If I didn’t know what a certain term meant, I could certainly look it up and learn how to do it. Since then, I’ve kept her advice in mind and tackled recipes that my college self could only dream of with confidence! – Victoria

“Sometimes you gotta say: it’s just not gonna work out.”

My grandma always says this. When I was younger and struggling with wanting to just people-please and not disappoint anyone, I didn’t like this saying. It seemed like a cop-out and I didn’t want people to get upset. Now I’ve realized how true it actually is and sometimes things just “aren’t gonna work out.” You don’t have to beat yourself up over it. The world will keep on turning. – Olivia

“Clean up as you go along.”

My mom always used to tell me this as a kid when I was learning to cook, and I've only seen the wisdom of it years later! Also, when we were kids and would tell our grandma we were bored, she’d say something along the lines of, “Only boring people get bored.” And she’s certainly never boring—or bored! – Emily

“Who you decide to hang out with defines who you are.”

My mom told me this a lot during middle school and high school as I started to develop friendships that would become more impactful and meaningful than when I was a child. What she meant by this phrase is that people naturally begin to act and think like those they spend a lot of time with.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but after a while I began to notice what she meant—I would turn to specific friends for advice and help, but not to others: ones I didn’t want to know certain things about me. Over time, I began to spend time only with the friends I trusted and turned to because they were the people I wanted to be like. My mom’s words changed who I am and shaped me into a better person. Taking her advice, I now hang out with people I look up to, rather than those who made decisions I didn’t always agree with. – Megan

“Don’t make up time on the road.”

Both of my parents have been saying this to me for a long time. My mom always gets places really early—I used to make fun of her when we would arrive somewhere like a show an hour before it started. I’d roll my eyes and complain that we were there even before the performers!

Now that I’m driving myself places, I appreciate her organization and timeliness because it’s not always easy to allow enough time to get somewhere with everyone’s busy schedules. I realize that my parents were right—I’ve caught myself driving too quickly because I didn’t want to be late. – Molly 

What "mom-isms" did you hear growing up? Let us know in the comments!