Growing up with an Irish mother teaches you many lessons, not least the importance of always having tea and biscuits (aka cookies) on hand and saving electricity. Their wisdom and humor are the best Irish gifts going, even if we rarely appreciate it until we’re in our 30s. They are the foundation of Irish culture really.
If you had an Irish mother, your life lessons came in the form of stock phrases that sound simple at first, but really convey some deep beliefs about how to live.
- Don’t go with one arm as long as the other.
Translation: Do your share. Be thoughtful and generous. A prime example of this in everyday life is buying drinks in rounds. It works out fairly because everyone involved agrees that doing their share is crucial. Indeed, not standing your round is shameful.
- Sit down and have a cuppa.
Translation: Spend time with loved ones. They feed your soul. Relax and keep people you love high on your list of priorities. This is reflected in more laid back attitude in Ireland around timekeeping, and the importance of meeting your mates in the local pub to visit.
- Hunger is a great sauce.
Translation: Being picky is a sign of good fortune. Appreciate what you have because not everyone has as much as you. And if you don’t appreciate what you have, maybe give some of it up to improve your perspective.
- Sure no one is looking at you anyway. Notions!
Translation: You aren’t the center of the universe, and you can be grateful for that. Unless you’re heading down the red carpet at a Hollywood event, people you met are more worried about their appearance than yours. And there is great freedom in knowing that!
- Put on a jumper.
Translation: Waste not, want not. Why turn on the heating when you can wear a sweater? Be resourceful and you’ll be comfortable. And your mammy does want you to be comfortable without going into debt. If you’re Irish, the odds are high that your grandparents or great-grandparents grew up in very hard times. Your mammy wants you to remember that you’ve inherited their grit.
Irish mothers are complicated. They are first to take you down a peg, and the first to become enraged if anyone else complains about you. They believe wholeheartedly in how amazing you are, but they worry that if they make that too obvious it will go to your head. And they want you to be a bit humble when you accept your Nobel prize or Academy award or whatever you have ahead of you.
And what does an Irish mother ask in return for all this wisdom? Very little. She doesn’t expect to be showered in lavish Irish gifts. When you get her something nice, she’ll protest while secretly being absolutely delighted. But what she really wants is to sit down and have a cuppa tae with you and hear everything that’s happening in your life. And she can’t wait to tell you what that one down the road has done now.