What in the world is a ‘Momolie’?

Published 7:30 am Saturday, May 14, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

As soon as I opened the little book by Michele Slung called “Momilies and More Momilies as My Mother Used to Say,” I had a question: What in the world is a Momolie?  The author followed up that question with her answer. We had just never heard those words applied as she described them: A momilie, according to Slung is a sermon made by a mother directed to her children.

By now, one is probably stirring in your brain. Chapter after chapter simply lists phrases attributed to mothers who sermonize to their children, such as “Don’t make such a face. It could freeze that way.”

I strained my memory a bit and pulled out a few of the phrases my mother had directed to me—momolies. “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you can.

I remember hearing my mother recite “I have a little shadow…” as she held my hand when we walked together.

One of her stern ones was Don’t talk with your mouth full.

Make sure you wear clean underwear. You might be in an accident.

Don’t play with frogs. You’ll get warts. These words were not directed at me, but to one of my boy cousins by his mother. I often spent my summer vacations with his family He enjoyed playing in muddy water, searching for frogs and all kind of slimy stuff.

If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.

Don’t talk with your mouth full. (It’s not lady-like).

Don’t hold that refrigerator door open.

Do it right the first time.

My mother, who lived with me, called up some momilies from her growing- up years. First on her list was Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

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

This hurts me more than it does you. (If that was addressed to me as I was being punished, I did not believe it.)

Be sure your sins will find you out.

What goes around comes around.

Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

I think my children remember hearing some of those that were passed through several generations. They probably got plenty tired of some of these which might or might not have been original with me:

Close the door. You are letting in flies.

Wait until I get you home.

Were you born in a barn? Shut that door.

How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?

This time, wash the back of your hands, too

Wipe your feet.

I knew this was going to happen. I just waxed the kitchen floor.

Always say “Sir” and “Mam” to adults.

Never call an adult by his or her first name.

Don’t ask me why. Because I said so.

Always act like a lady and you will be treated like one.

Eat those bread crusts. They are good for you.

Eat your carrots. They are good for your eyes.

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

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

There are many more momilies, of course. Perhaps these memorable “mothers’ brief sermons have awakened some familiar ones of  your own.