‘Momilies’ go back generations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2014

Someone gave me a little book titled “Momilies and More Momilies As My Mother Used to Say.” What is a momily? According to the author Michele Slung, it is a sermon made by a mother. Did your mother ever “sermonize” to you? I’ll bet you already have several of her momilies floating around in your head right now.


I had turned just a few pages in the book when memories of some of my mother’s momilies surfaced:

Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you can.

Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.

Don’t talk with your mouth full.

Don’t stand and hold the refrigerator door open.

Don’t make such a face. It could freeze that way.

You be sure and put on clean underwear. You might be in a wreck.

Put down that frog! It’ll give you warts.

Do it right the first time.

You can get blistered on a cloudy day at the beach.


Years ago, when I reminisced with my mother about her momilies, she remembered some choice ones from my grandmother:

Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

If you sew on Sunday, you will have to pick every stitch out with your nose on Judgment Day.

If you can’t behave, you will be eating off the mantel.

This hurts me more than it does you.

Act like a lady and you will be treated like one.

What goes around comes around.

I’m pretty sure my children remember hearing some of those momilies that were passed down from several generations.

Close the door. You’re letting in flies.

Wait until I get you home.

Shut that door. Were you born in a barn?

How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tasted it?

Never call an adult by his or her first name.

Don’t ask me why—because I said so.

Go back and wash the back of your hands this time.

If you want something done, do it yourself.

You are too young to wear black.

Your skirt is too short.

Go right back to your room Son, and put on socks with those shoes.

Wait until your daddy gets home.

Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.

If you can’t say anything good about somebody, don’t say anything at all.

Don’t start anything you don’t plan to finish.

Don’t get so close to the TV. It’s not good for your eyes.

Stop pulling the crusts off your bread. They are good for you.

Carrots are good for your eyes.

Tuna is good for your brain.

Don’t make a pig of yourself.

Fresh air won’t kill you.

Step on a crack; break your mother’s back.

Then there is that time-honored momily I imagine almost every mother in America has used:

Clean your plate. There are lots of starving children in this world who would love to have that.