If you grew up in the South, odds are that your mom's odd sayings are a solid 15 percent of your personal vocabulary, and that's just one sign of the many, many lessons she taught you as a child.


1. How to cook. It doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl; you spent a lot of time in the kitchen as a kid, and your non-Southern friends are constantly blown away by your culinary skills. Also, yes, macaroni is a vegetable, and breakfast on the weekends is a given.

2. Don't ever start a fight – but if you get in one, you better end it. Your momma didn't raise a wimp, but she sure didn't raise a bully either.

3. Your family comes before everyone else. My mom used to say all the time that "blood is thicker than water," and it didn't matter if it was right or wrong – you were to take up for your family.

4. There's no place like home. When I went to college, my parents would go crazy if I called anything but our house "home." Despite the fact that I live away 9 months of the year, I'll always know where home really is.

5. An unbeatable sense of manners. Your mom taught you to always tip 15 to 20 percent, shake a hand like the man or woman that she raised you to be, and to never, ever talk down to a lady or somebody's grandparents.

6. You can't date someone your family doesn't approve of. My family has demanded to meet every girlfriend I've ever had within a month of the first date. My sister's boyfriend was the same, and if they don't love her/him as much as you do, it's just not going to work out.

7. The importance of small talk. When you were a kid, it seemed like your mom made more friends in the grocery store checkout line than you could remember, and it never failed that she found one of those friends just when you were ready to leave someplace. As an adult, you realize just how important that small talk really is.

8. Never, ever give up. When you started something, you finished it, no matter how much you hated playing soccer when you were four years old, and no matter how much you wanted to. You weren't allowed to be a quitter, and you still aren't.

9. Stay busy and you'll stay happy. The devil rides on an idle horse, and it doesn't matter if you have to join a gardening club or a college fraternity – you should never stop working and moving.

10. Nice things aren't cheap, and cheap things aren't nice. This doesn't mean that your mom taught you to care about labels and brands. She taught you the importance of quality over quantity, and that it's always better to save money for something nice than to blow it on something that's not.

11. When you get paid, spend a little, save most, and give the rest to your church. Whether it's through lecturing you on the importance of credit like my mom did or setting up a savings account for you, your mom taught you how to manage your money, and to manage it right.

12. Always give your best, and if your best isn't good enough, try harder. Even to this day, when I'm telling my mom about school, she says, "It doesn't matter, as long as you did your best." Looking back, I'm not sure if she believed anything but perfection was my best, but she always held high expectations for my sister and I – and most of the time, we met them.

13. There's a stare from her that could still bring you to your knees. My mom always (only half jokingly) said that she aimed to instill "a healthy fear" of her into her kids, and she definitely did so. It was always bad when you saw her reach up for the rearview mirror so she could give it to you in the backseat while driving.

14. Don't say anything about someone that you wouldn't say to their face. Talking behind someone's back is pretty bad, but if you have something to say, you should always be prepared to defend it.

15. Choose your friends wisely. This goes along with #6 about significant others, but she always said that you turn into the people you surround yourself with, so you shouldn't befriend anyone you wouldn't want to be.

16. Love unconditionally. You were in the doghouse with your mom more times than you can remember, but you always knew that you were loved. You did a lot of things growing up that didn't make you easy to love, but she ended every lecture with an "I love you," and that stays with you today.

17. There's only one thing that comes before your family, and that's Jesus. God first, family second, and country third. Your momma taught you how to pray, how to love the Lord, and how to build a relationship with God, which is the most important thing you could learn as a kid.

18. Never forget where you came from. This speaks for itself, and it's a summation of all the previous points. My mom taught me that no matter how far I go in life, I can always come back home, and that I should always take my Kentucky town with me – and I do.


Happy (belated) Mother's Day, momma.