This Sunday, the United States celebrates Mother’s Day to honor mothers, motherhood, and all those who look after us with tender loving care.
About Mother’s Day
While most countries observe some version of Mother’s Day, they don’t all celebrate it on the same day. Somewhere in the world, there is a Mother’s Day, 11 months out of the year.
Mother’s Day in the U.S. has its origin in 1870, when Julia Ward Howe, who worked with Civil War widows and orphans, urged a Mother’s Day dedicated to peace.
In 1908, Anna Reeves Jarvis took up the initiative on behalf of her mother, also named Anna Jarvis, who had worked with Howe on those efforts. You can still find the International Mother’s Day Shrine at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day memorial.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day a U.S. holiday: a special day to be celebrated on the second Sunday of each May.
Being a personal injury law firm, TorkLaw would like to observe the day by recognizing the many ways our mothers tried to keep us safe as we grew up. Many of us heard dire warnings about things that would harm us. While they were all said with the absolute best of intentions, some of them, as it turns out, aren’t exactly true.
But many of the things Mom said, over which we rolled our eyes, turned out to be profound life lessons.
Old Wives’ Tales
Whether Mom was prone to exaggeration, or just repeating things her own mother heard from her mom (who heard it from great-great-grandma, and so on), it turns out the following mom-isms are actually myths:
Don’t sit too close to the TV (or read in the dark) – you’ll ruin your eyesight.
Most ophthalmologists say that sitting too close to the television or reading in the dark might give you a headache or eye strain, but won’t cause lasting damage. But still, turn off the flashlight and go to sleep.
Don’t go out with a wet head, you’ll catch a cold.
Colds are caused by a virus. Wet hair doesn’t make you any more susceptible to sickness. If it’s really cold, your hair might freeze, though.
If you swallow gum, it will stay in your stomach for seven years.
According to the Mayo Clinic, gum doesn’t stay in your stomach. It’s true that your body doesn’t digest gum like food, but moves it, pretty much intact, through your digestive system and out the other side.
If a child swallows large amounts of gum, s/he may experience constipation or blocked intestines, so it’s not a great idea. We’ll call this one a well-intentioned exaggeration.
Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll freeze that way.
Crossing your eyes will not cause permanent damage; they will return to normal placement once you’re through embarrassing your mother, which is probably why she said it in the first place.
You need to wait an hour after eating to go swimming, otherwise you’ll get muscle cramps and drown.
We’re pretty sure that no one in history has ever drowned from muscle cramps. Whether exerting yourself after eating causes cramps is another matter; but even if that happens, it’s not likely to make you drown. Either mom was concerned about your comfort, or she just didn’t want to hear your belly-aching.
Mother Knows Best
While we may not have wanted to hear them in our teen years, many of the things our mothers told us are well worth heeding.
You need eight hours of sleep every night.
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the recommended amount of sleep is, indeed, between 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Those who average less than 5-7 hours, or more than 8-9 hours per night, have a higher risk of premature death.
This Forbes article claims that most Americans are sleep-deprived. The average person in our country sleeps less than 6.8 hours per night, which contributes to many chronic health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and obstructive sleep apnea.
Eat your vegetables; they’re good for you.
A Harvard School of Public Health article offers compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Eating more fruits and vegetables also benefits gastrointestinal health, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight.
Fruits and vegetables may help prevent two common eye diseases related to aging—cataracts and macular degeneration. And some types of fruits and vegetables, and their components, may protect against certain cancers.
If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
We all know the danger of peer pressure to young teens and adolescents. Adults are susceptible to peer pressure, too.
We may be smart enough to avoid jumping off bridges. But the universal desire to fit in can make us susceptible to being pressured into unhealthy choices. For example, having a drink (or two, or three) after work, even though we know we need to drive home afterwards; or having a slice of birthday cake even though our blood sugar is already dangerously high. Those choices might be just as deadly as bridge-jumping.
Maintaining correct body alignment can help prevent excess strain on your joints, muscles, and spine, and prevent headaches and body pain. It can also reduce fatigue and breathing issues.
Good posture also helps you maintain balance and proper form while exercising, which results in a more productive workout with fewer injuries.
This TED talk also makes the point that good posture can boost confidence, and improve our chances for success. So, listen to your mother – stand up straight!
Trust your gut.
Our society promotes analytic thinking and generally discounts the notion of intuition. However, some neurologists say that emotions are not simply irrational responses we should ignore. In fact, our feelings are a form of information processing scientists call the “predictive processing framework.”
By subconsciously matching past events and current experience, our brain identifies significant information to predict danger before we’re consciously aware of it. Our intuition transmits this data to all the nerve cells in our bodies, producing certain feelings.
These intuitive feelings can save our lives. Personal protection expert Gavin de Becker, in his book The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence, points out that through millions of years of evolution, humans can subconsciously detect indications of imminent violence. In his book, de Becker recounts examples of people who ignored their intuition only to become victims – and others who acted on their intuition and averted a violent attack.
This doesn’t mean you should live your life in a constant state of anxiety. Doing so would leave you without the capacity to pick up on those subtle intuitive signals. Rather, be attentive to what’s happening in the moment.
And, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Studies have found that the longer people agonize over big decisions, the less satisfied they are than they are than if they had simply “gone with their gut.”
Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
If your mother told you to trust your intuition, she might be a genius.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there – including grandmothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, surrogate mothers, “honorary” mothers, mothers-in-law, beloved aunts, and dads who are raising kids without a mother figure, having to be both. We are grateful to all the mother figures who have made a difference in our lives.
Sometimes, despite all the words of wisdom our moms told us, we become injured through the negligence or carelessness of others. If that happens to you, call us at TorkLaw. Our caring personal injury attorneys will give you sage advice, and look after your best interests, so you can recover physically, emotionally, and financially — just like your mother would.