I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

.. and other 20th century maxims that stick in my brain

May 11, 2011 by

No one ever said it would be easy .. and other 20th century maxims that stick in my brain. 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Beauty is skin deep.

Too many cooks spoil the stew.

If your best friend jumped off a cliff, would you?

Don’t make me come in there.

I’ll give you something to cry about!

Who do you think you are?

Because I said so…

All of the above were uttered by my mother at one time or another, back when I was a kid. This was back in the day – when Moms could threaten bodily harm and not be afraid of being reported to social services. It was back when Moms had power; when any adult woman in your household had power over you, including Aunts and Grandmothers. I know that over the years, I heard these maxims over and over and over and…I was determined to never repeat them. Which seemed like an easy promise to myself because I was never getting married and having kids, anyway. Yeah, right.

“No one ever said it would be easy.” This was in response to homework problems, or issues with my sister. I was not big on homework. Sorry – that’s just how it was. Homework and I were fleeting friends. If I whined about homework, I was rewarded with the admonition that “No one ever said it would be easy.” If I complained about my sister wearing my clothes (she was 9 years younger but wore the same size – we’ll get into that some other time), the response was, “Growing up is hard work, get used to it,” which is just a variation on “no one ever said it would be easy.”

As far as “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” I only remember this adage in respect to conversations the adults would have about other family members. So, when Cousin Joe (fictitious name to protect the innocent) chose to go to college instead of getting a job, the rest of the family would shake their heads and murmur, “the road to hell is paved…” Back then a college education was only for uppity folk, ya know? Or, the adults would exchange meaningful glances and whisper the phrase whenever anyone in the family decided to do something ‘different’. Like, buy a new car instead of a used car. Or, buy a house in the suburbs – like city living wasn’t good enough. Sigh.

The “beauty is only skin deep” was saved for days I felt really good about myself. I was never all that good about fashion –for months I wore army fatigues day and night because they were comfy – but at some point I did discover skirts, blouses, sweaters and other items that proved I was a girl. My mother, in her infinite wisdom, did not want this to go to my head. Hence, the repeated, “Beauty is only skin deep,” to remind me that looks weren’t everything. As a Mom now, with grown daughters, I can tell you, at 12-13-14-15… looks are important and the only thing that’s skin deep is your tan.

“Too many cooks spoil the stew,” is self-explanatory. Really – how many people does it take to make stew, or soup, or mashed potatoes and chicken? One. And that’s all there ever was at our house. One. Me. I would have welcomed more cooks in the kitchen, dammit!

This is one of my favorites and has survived down the years, I think. “If your best friend jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course, it was asked in response to my having participated in some hare-brained escapade with my friends, like going to Niagara Falls one night. I mean, NF was only an hour away, so we didn’t think it would be a big deal. That we were ultimately gone for four hours (an hour longer than expected), meant we were in big trouble when we got home. Or, cutting school in protest of …something, I can’t remember what. “But, Joanne said…blah, blah, blah.” Even before finishing the sentence, I knew what my Mother was going to say. “If Joanne…” To which the answer is, no, mom, I would not jump off a cliff if Joanne jumped off a cliff. I’m afraid of heights.

And, who doesn’t remember their parents shouting from the living room, “Don’t make me come in there!” because you were arguing with your brother when you were supposed to be sleeping? It worked back in the day because if they were to hustle upstairs – well, you’d pay dearly! Spanking wasn’t forbidden when I was a kid! Ouch! (few kids ever suffered lasting effects, IMBO! We were more insulted than injured… just saying.)

This next one has died a welcomed death, I think: “I’ll give you something to cry about!” Seriously, when a kid is crying, there’s a reason. They don’t need an extra reason to cry. Of course, the whiners probably deserve the shout; it might make them shape up. But, in reality, promising to give your kid something to cry about just made them cry harder and louder. Maybe that was the point. Maybe parents enjoyed the torture. Maybe they told stories around the kitchen table about how they scared little Susie into screaming her guts out the other night just by saying, “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

“Who do you think you are?” is another one that could get lost in a black hole, I believe. Really – it’s only uttered when the opposing party (parent) thinks the kid is getting “too big for her britches”. In other words, when you use your expensive college education (which they helped pay for) to correct something they’r pontificating on. Or, when you point out a discrepancy in their diatribe about something in the news.

“Mom, you said yesterday that …blah, blah, blah… Now you’re saying the exact opposite. How come?”

“Just who do you think you are?” glaring at me over her bi-focals.

It wasn’t a question that required an answer. It was a statement that required you to shut up. If you didn’t, well… you’d be sorry. Sorry enough to wish you’d used that smart education not to speak up in the first place.

While, “Because I said so…” is a simple statement, it holds enormous meaning and power! Oh my! When you were asked to do something, no matter what, if you gave ANY push back, “I don’t wanna… Who said so?” you were rewarded with, “Because I said so,” in undertones, teeth gritted, eyes narrowed.

No other phrase has the power to move a child like, “Because I said so.” It worked when I was a kid and it works now. Unlike the other phrases, the “because I said so” will work forever.

Don’t ask how I know. Just accept it. Because… I said so.

Graphic credit: Confessions of a blueberry bandit

About the Author

Yvonne DiVita Has Written 12 Articles For Us!

Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, the premier book on marketing to women online. As President of Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC specializing in Publishing 3.0 using print-on-demand, as well as business blog building and social media strategy, Yvonne is an active blogger starting with her women’s blog Lip-Sticking. Her latest book, A Little Book of Big Thoughts, is offered on her blog as an e-book and a print book. In the summer of 2009, she co-founded BlogPaws, an online pet community to support pet bloggers and pet lovers. BlogPaws has successfully held two social media conferences in 2010 and is diligently working on conference #3 for August of 2011.
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  1. @Kelley ( @realwomenhealth) thanks for the support! I used to think I lived in a vacuum – these things only happened to me. But, all the ladies here are proving me wrong. I so happy!

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  3. Only @atsgf has stuff this good. good weekend all. " Never Promised You A Rose Garden" http://bit.ly/kTEKRE

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