God’s gift to the world...or is that wine? Well, both get better with age so I suppose it doesn’t really matter. You see, the thing about mothers is that we appreciate them so much more as we get older. Whereas they were once the banes of our existence, the destroyers of lives, the ones who wouldn’t let us go riding in cars with boys because we would’ve done exactly what they thought we were going to do...and now, as we’ve gotten older, we know they’re actually not so terrible. Now, we love them. We appreciate them. We realize that all they were trying to do was keep us alive -- and not pregnant at prom. And though we all ( now) love our mothers so very much, we thought it would be funny to look back on some of the life lessons we learned from them. You know, the life lessons taught to us in the 70s. The lessons that, if used today, would land us in jail -- or on an episode of “SVU.”
So, take a trip down memory lane with us, won’t you? Grab your cigarettes and your cocktail, but don’t bother wearing your seatbelt. Despite it being a bumpy, hilarious ride, mothers of the 70s would never advise you to buckle up...after all, what’s the point?
1. A Little Smoke Never Hurt Anyone
If there’s one thing we all ( well, save for Millennials) remember about our mothers, it’s that they all smoked. All. The. Time. While most of the time it never bothered us kids, the exception to that was always when we were in the car. There we were, sitting in the back (or maybe roaming around the trunk in the station wagon) of the car on the way to the grocery store to go get more Tang and Little Debbie snacks and there would be mom, driving and chain smoking away in the front.
“ Can you PLEASE roll the windows down? I can, like, hardly even breathe back here” we’d yell up to her. Turning back, one hand on the wheel, one hand holding a cigarette, both eyes not on the road, she’d give you the same look the nuns did when you were about to get hit and would say something along the lines of “I just got my hair done two days ago and it has to last ‘til Friday. I’m not messing it up for you. Besides, a little smoke never hurt anyone. If it bothers you so much you can walk home.”
2. You Better Be Bleeding
If the term “helicopter mom” describes most young mamas today, then the term “drone mom” could be applied to mothers of the 70s. They were around...most of the time, but they certainly weren’t hoverers, or obsessive, or hell, even all that concerned. Like drones, they mostly just checked in from time to time to see that everyone was alive and well and not waging war on the youngest sibling.
The phrase “ If I have to come back there, you better be bleeding” was so commonly heard around our house that after a while, we stopped calling for help altogether -- even if we did happen to be bleeding. Once, a close family friend’s son busted his head open on one of those metal swing sets (surely those are illegal now?) and instead of calling for help, he quite literally just put some dirt on it. He’s in his 40s now and has a hell of a scar -- but hey, he’s still kicking.
3. No Riding in Cars With Boys...and Also No Calling Them on the Phone
Boys were bad. Plain and simple. They wanted one thing and one thing only, and that “ thing” was not to marry you and give you a life of ease. Oh, no. That “thing” likely ended with you going off to a convent in the Northeast for nine months while your parents made up some story about you going to boarding school.
Whenever you had boys over, your mom watched you like a hawk, which is funny, because that seemed to be the only time she ever really paid attention to you at all. Boys were allowed in the living room and living room only. If a boy even so much as looked at that long, dark hallway that led to the bedrooms, he was immediately asked to go home and you were immediately asked to go in your room and read The Bible while your mom stressfully chain smoked and blamed your choice in skeezy boys on both the nuns at your school and the Ford Administration.
Additionally, just as driving up to Makeout Point with the quarterback of the football team was out of the question, so was calling him on the phone. In fact, in the eyes of your mother, calling him and putting yourself out there might have actually been worse than ending up in the backseat of his car. “ Ladies do not call.” She’d say. “They are called. What’s next? Wearing pants to work?”
4. You're Not the Center of the Universe
Our mothers loved us....but they also didn’t coddle us. Unlike moms today who tell their children that they are perfect and wonderful and are better than all the other Paisleys and Apples in their kindergarten class, moms in the 70s didn’t say that -- and they didn’t believe it, either. From the get go, we were told that we were loved ( sometimes), but we also were not babied. If our moms didn’t feel like going to our school plays, they didn’t go. If they didn’t feel like going to soccer games, so be it. If they’d rather play Gin Rummy with the other moms than attend the talent show, no one even questioned it.
If a mother today admitted to not attending a class party because she was too hungover from the night before, she’d have CPS called on her. But in our day? The teacher would’ve looked at the note and nodded in sympathy as she, too, was hungover. Oh, well. Nothing a glass of Tang and a cigarette wouldn’t fix -- so there she sat at her desk, at the front of the classroom, and chain smoked away.
Did we miss anything? What are your favorite funny life lessons that you learned from your mom? We can’t wait to hear!