So much of what we’re going through these days could have been solved if some folks just listened to their mother.

For example:

• Hand washing — How many times did your mom have to tell you to wash your hands? Seriously. She looks like a genius now, right? It is a little disturbing that we had to teach people this particular miracle of modern society? But at least now we can feel a little better about the next doorknob we encounter.

• Sneeze covering — Covering your mouth when you sneeze was another thing our moms tried to teach us. Of course, it took a new generation of moms to teach us the vampire sneeze. You know the one where you sneeze into your elbow then say “I vant to drink your blood, bwaa haa ha!” (Technically you don’t have to add the quote, but it does make sneezing much more entertaining.) As far as I’m concerned, the real lost opportunity is that we didn’t extend the guidelines to burping. Ah well, next pandemic.

• Stocking up — Personally, my mom was always intent on keeping a pretty well-stocked pantry. In the interest of full disclosure, there were some things in the back that had expired four or five years prior, but we have instituted an annual rotation to minimize those issues. Also I’ll admit, although I don’t recall an emphasis on toilet paper, we definitely never ran low.

• Bleach everything — Then there was the affection for bleach. The smell of bleach was right up there with fresh tortillas and beans when I was growing up. To my knowledge, every surface I ever encountered was cleaned every five minutes with a bleach solution, and I’m positive that it was why I don’t ever remember my mom or grandmother having even a cold when I was young. Or why their fingerprints were unusually faint.

• Stay home — My mom was a real homebody, perfectly happy to stay home and putter around the house. That particular gene did not get passed down, unfortunately, and I’m going pretty crazy. Still, I have to give her credit, the advice was there.

• Give grace — Parents are hardest on themselves while at the same time encouraging children to cut each other some slack. Having served as a referee for far too many family interactions, the words “can’t we all just get along” have never been more needed. The reality that life teaches us is that we won’t get everything right, we’ll disagree, we’ll be talking from a standpoint of being hurt or scared or angry. The one thing we can do is understand we are all doing our best given our individual situations and we need to give everyone a little grace – including ourselves.

So listen to your mom. Go to the pantry and have an extra cookie. Watch another movie. Say you’re sorry for being irritated. And don’t forget – wash your hands again. It can’t hurt.

Winter Prosapio is a writer, a wife, and a working mom of two girls, two cats, and one ridiculously enthusiastic terrier mix.

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