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Dealing some straight talk on Mother's Day

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

This is Mother's Day weekend so I dealing out some straight Mother's Day talk.

First, you might guess that I am a man of considerable years and have no credibility to offer this straight talk to mothers, and you would be right.

I am going to do it anyway, so take that moms!

I had a mother, for whatever credibility that carries, and I therefore think that I know the main thing that mothers need to do on behalf of their sons and daughters:

Teach them not to take life so seriously, extinguish the drama and show them that things are “not that bad” no matter what they might identify as being “that bad” as they experience life.

Convey that message in a loving and caring way, not in a dictatorial fashion. It would defeat the purpose to do it that way. Issuing orders suggests urgency and detracts from the “not that bad” message

There are lots of ways to express this message. My mom's way was to use that old phrase: “It all comes out in the wash.”

She was right It does, it just does.

You see, nothing can last forever. My mom didn't, but she never seemed to fret about it in her usual “not that bad” fashion..

If you don't look at things as being “that bad” then you are less likely to worry and worry is an enemy to all of us. Not that we aren't going to do it — even Mom did — but that worry will come out in life's wash even if the wash isn't done until the day you die.

Now there are obvious downers in life that might make us all conclude that something “not that bad” really is “that bad.”

There are illnesses, poverty, war, deaths -- well, you know the list as well as anyone.

So, wouldn't mothers be taking their children down some Yellow Brick Road by telling them that nothing is that bad?

This is where it gets tricky.

Sure, we want our mothers' children to be realists. They can't get by without knowing the wicked ways of the world and some certainly seem to be “that bad.”

But this is my argument on that -- and my Mother's too if she were still in the world:

You have to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”

Before you scoff at this Pollyanna approach, let me say I understand how you feel. I have had those kind of days. I had a couple this week as a matter of fact.

But when I have such days, I try to look to the big picture, look to the everyday mysteries around me, and eventually the day will pass and I realize it has been -- well, not that bad.

Mom had her stressful days. Like the time she lost it -- I think she was tired -- and cried because she had been working hard in her job as a substitute teacher and Dad and I had not been pulling our weight at home, which really meant we weren't doing the dishes.

A teen at the time, I and Dad learned our lesson and demonstrated it every night. I still do the dishes, and if you promise not to tell anybody: I really sometimes enjoy it. It is not that bad.

When I was going through tough times as a young adult, Mom didn't panic, or at least not as so I saw it. She didn't join in my personal dramas. She remained quiet and calm and just listened.

I learned much later in life that one of the best things a person can do when someone is dying is to just sit quietly with that person. Be there. And that is exactly what Mom did when it came to lesser matters of life. She cared, she just didn't aggravate the situation.

They say time heals all wounds, but it is best if one can come to the realization that things aren't that bad while still enduring that time between wounding and healing.

I see a lot of young women getting excited about negative things going on in their children's lives, and while I can't fault them I wish I could convince them that all that consternation defeats the purpose of getting back on a more stable course.

Thinking that things are not that bad gives us the encouragement we need to move ahead, to not let depression take us out of the picture.

And lastly, if you think I wrote all this so that mothers who don't get a gift on Sunday will realize that it is not that bad, well: Would it be that bad?

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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