Mom knew how to set her priorities


Set your priorities. It was a term that those of us who attempted to be a superwoman in the 70s had drilled into our subconscious by every empowerment speaker that we heard.

The superwoman within died from physical exhaustion and mental fatigue several decades ago, and I wiped the word out of my vocabulary. But nothing is gone forever. Just like lime green clothing and kitchen appliances, words and phrases return every decade or so.

When I heard it used by a young woman the other day, I began wondering how women ever managed before we were told priorities must be set if success was to be achieved.

I remember my mother’s sparkling clean ovens, perfectly made beds, weekly waxed floors and white-glove inspection table tops. Was a clean house number one on her priority list?

I recall shelves of canned red tomatoes, purple plums, green beans, golden peaches and bright orange carrots sitting on shelves in the cellar. Was canning number one on her priority list?

I never wore a white blouse that hadn’t been bleached in the wringer washing machine, fluffed dry in the breeze, starched until it stood by itself and ironed to perfection, so I wonder if keeping her family looking great wasn’t at the top of her list.

Then I remember the freshly-baked bread, the homemade noodles, spicy apple pies, hearty breakfasts, filling suppers and, I ask, was this at the top of her priorities?

She loved working in garden, hoeing carrots, weeding peas, picking strawberries, watering melons and fertilizing roses. Perhaps, gardening was her priority.

She also helped with dinners at the church, sold cookbooks for her extension club, baked rolls for the junior class bake sale and led my 4-H club. Where did these activities fit in her list of priorities?

I’m sure her husband and children had top priority but then so did a sick neighbor or elderly friend.

When I look at the way she filled her days, I wonder how she could have prioritized for all were important, all brought joy into her life and satisfaction to her being.

Maybe, that is what priorities are all about.


Joyce Ore

Joyce Ore writes delightful stories about life with a dose of humor and sprinkle of nostalgia. Her column appears Saturday in the Tribune.

Copyright © 2014