Advice from My Mother

Only cross your legs at the ankles
and don’t go out without a scarf.
Back straight, head up,
pay no attention to impertinent remarks.

A lady doesn’t play pool, drink beer
she swears no oaths, utters no hard words.
Clear eyes, dainty smile,
A good woman lets manners be her only sword.

Always wear a slip and girdle
never straighten hose on the street.
Handshake firm, hellos warm,
Have a kind word for everyone you meet.

And most of all, know your own worth
Look to no others for advice
Be modest, be firm,
Your reputation a pearl beyond price.


My beautiful mother, Esther Nadine, circa 1955

7 thoughts on “Advice from My Mother

  1. Great poem/memoir, Theresa. I can’t think of a thing you forgot of the 1940-50’s pearls of wisdom. I’m not sure they ever did us much good (or our mothers either, for that matter) but we learned them anyway, didn’t we?

  2. Thanks! 🙂 I couldn’t figure out how to work in the “no smoking on the street” one, or the thing about always taking dainty portions of food when eating in public. All this stuff seems so quaint and sentimental now, but it was the bane of my existence when I was twelve and my mom was trying to make me wear old lady scarves to middle school.

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