My Mom Was a Liar

By Susan DeLay

My mother lied to me.

Face it, with the possible exception of Mother Teresa, most mothers lie. Mom passed away three years ago at 89, but I am certain she spent most of her adult years burning the midnight oil and memorizing facts from Mom’s Axioms to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want. It’s a book that’s secretly handed down from generation to generation and available only to mothers, kindergarten teachers, and nannies.

Mom Lies Saved Lives

Mom passed away a few years ago, but I still remember the whoppers she told me when I was growing up—whoppers that I still live by. Granted, her lies were for my own good—designed to keep me safe, healthy, and most of all, alive. (Minus that big fat lie about having to eat carrots.)

While mothers everywhere tell us lying is not okay, that’s not completely true. The lies Mom told my brother, sister, and me might have meant the difference between death by spanking and death period.


Mom’s Top 10 Whoppers

  1. Coffee will stunt your growth. My grandmother drank coffee and my parents drank coffee—a lot of it. How come they weren’t short? Starbucks may not know about this one. Neither do their millions of customers.

  2. If you eat seeds (watermelon, orange, grapefruit), it’s inevitable you’ll end up with a tree growing in your stomach. I wonder if nutritionists know about this. They’re big on encouraging people to eat seeds as part of a healthy diet.

  3. Crack your knuckles and your fingers will fall off. Yep, just like that. Thunk, thunk, thunk on the ground.

  4. Wait 30 minutes after eating before going into the water or you’ll get cramps and die. I believed this one so strongly that I wouldn’t even get into the bathtub until at least 30 minutes after dinner. Showers are okay. You won’t die from a post-meal shower—unless you happen to be spending the night in the Bates Motel.

  5. Wear a hat when you go outside in cold weather, or you’ll get pneumonia and die. A parallel safety violation is never go outside with wet hair because you’ll catch pneumonia and die. It’s okay to go out in the rain because you’re not made of sugar and you won’t melt. Just make sure you have a hat and umbrella. Otherwise, well, you could die.

  6. Never answer a phone on the first ring. Rumor has it this is done to deceive people into thinking you have better things to do than sit by the phone. Of course, this was before we carried our phones with us everywhere we went. Even the bathroom. (Ewww.)

  7. If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind. Watching television in the dark is a surefire path to losing your eyesight. It won’t happen all at once, of course. Your eyes will start to deteriorate and you’ll need glasses, which is unfortunate because Mom also said boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.


But wait. There’s more. After enough television watching from an unsafe distance, you’ll graduate to dark glasses, a white cane, and a seeing-eye dog. To this day, I watch TV from across the room with the lights on. Once you pass a certain age, your eyes are going to deteriorate anyway. Mom didn’t have an answer for that, but I did. It’s called old age.


  1. If you forget something and go back into the house to get it, sit down before you leave again. There is a possibility you might die if you don’t. To this day, I follow this rule. I heard it from both my grandmother and my mom. And I think I read it in the National Enquirer, so it must be true.

  2. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. This rule, usually applied before a parent doles out punishment, has puzzled children since the beginning of time. Just how, exactly is this going to hurt you more than me? I once offered to help take her pain by switching places. I was very sorry I asked.


  • My all-time favorite Mom lie is that eating carrots will not only help our eyesight, but it will also allow us to see in the dark. The World Carrot Museum says this falsehood was started by the British Ministry of Information to mislead the Nazi Luftwaffe (Air Force) during World War II. Luftwaffe pilots struck at night and thanks to secret radar technology, the Royal Air Force (RAF) fought them off. Rather than let the Nazis discover the Airborne Interception Radar, Brits concocted a farce that RAF pilots had night vision because they ate carrots. Lies. All of it.


I still think of my mother every time I stare down a cooked carrot.

So, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

And that’s no lie.

DeLay-Susan HeadshotSusan DeLay is from the Buckeye State where she took her first paying job at the age of 15, writing a newspaper column called Teen Talk. She lived in the Chicagoland area for 20-some years before giving away her shovel and ice scraper and moving to The Villages.

An industry veteran in publishing services, PR and media relations, Susan wrote “DeLayed Reaction,” a newspaper column, for 25 years. The column is now a blog at www.susandelay.wordpress.com.

She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, The Florida Writers Association, Pen, Paper & Pals, Writers League of the Villages, and Working Writers Critique Group. She is currently learning that poems don’t have to rhyme and is working on a novel entitled “Saving Jesus.”

19 thoughts on “My Mom Was a Liar”

  1. Loved your story Susan. Growing up I also heard many of those “lies” that my mother told me and my younger brother.
    I also thought of writing for a newspaper when I graduated high school, so I stared writing for our school paper in freshman year.
    Unfortunately, I addressed the newspaper to our assistant principal using the following: “Ass. Principal”.
    He was a good sport and told me he might be at times, but not always. I apologized and rethought my career goals. Glad I went into the scientific field and leave the writing to others.

    1. I’m sure your decision has made the scientific world richer and the writing world poorer. I think every writer has experienced some soft of “Ass. Principal” faux pas at some point.

  2. Linda Lee Keenan

    Provocative title. Everything to a child is bigger than real, such as the interpretation of death, and death by spanking, a punishment not employed these days. Your Top Ten Whopper Lies are reminiscent of life in midcentury America. Speaking of midcentury America, I think that means we as relics of that period, are worth much more in the antique market nowadays. I love your cultural reference to the National Enquirer, as if there could be any culture within that publication. I would like to add a couple of lies heard from my dear mother’s lips: if you roll your eyes, they will stay that way. And continue making that face and it will freeze that way. Both of those lies weren’t believable but I still think it would have been a fate worse than death for my face to be deformed by my own attitude. I’d like to think that my Mom would be laughing at your story, Susan! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I forgot the “if you make that face, it will freeze that way” lie. I heard that one, too. I also heard, “If you think you’re going to drive me to an early grave, you’ve got another thing coming.” That was one step beyond the infamous, “Don’t make me come up there!” (Or if we were in the car, “Don’t make me come back there!”)

      1. I have so much to say, but so little time. We are going on a trip and the car is packed I loved this. It really hits home. A couple of comments. On #8, it wasn’t enough to come back inside and sit down when you forgot something, you had to count to 10-or you might die. On #3, in my house your fingers wouldn’t fall off, but you would get severe arthritis. I’m 77, and have been cracking my knuckles constantly since I was about 3. It may be annoying to the people around me, but no arthritis! To Susan Delay: My mother did come up there and did come back there. I have the scars to prove it!

        1. Gary, thank you for your comment. You’re hilarious. I think my grandmother did tell us to count to 10, now that I think of it. I didn’t know about the arthritis curse in #3, but apparently I did not observe the lie because I do have some arthritis in my fingers–but fortunately, they never fell off.

          1. Gary R. Philips

            Another one. Most likely because I had(and still do have) an awful singing voice, I was told that if I sang before breakfast, I would cry before dinner. To this day when I go to an early morning Ukulele sing along, I make sure to eat a single cracker(to act as my breakfast)

  3. Ann Marie Acacio

    Your piece brought back many memories of my Mom who left the planet at the age of 97, so she had more time to think up many more “lies!” I miss playing cards and doing crossword puzzles with her! Thanks for the memories…

  4. Pamela Michael

    I enjoyed reading your story and remembering all the phrases Mom used. It was a lovely “walk down memory lane”.

    Thank you.

    1. I had a nice walk down memory lane as I wrote the story. I came up with dozen’s more “lies” but there just isn’t room for all of them–except in my heart.

  5. Alvin M Stenzel

    My truly loving mother had a way of demanding obedience. Her line was, “When I tell you to jump, you jump, and ask ‘how high?’ on the way up.”

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