Do Your Best!

The poet Ovid wrote, “Nothing is stronger than habit.” My parents believed strongly in forming good habits early in life. Parental example is a powerful teaching tool.  I was reminded of this when I read a newsletter from one of my language organizations.   We were fortunate to have a mother who stayed at home.  Our bedtime in Massachusetts was early by today’s standards:  6:30 PM.  We had to get up early enough to have our bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and walk one mile to the bus stop. Our bus ride was 45 minutes one way.  When we were older and in the upper grades in school, bedtime was later.  I recall my father telling me when I started high school that I determined my own bedtime based on how much homework I had.  If I stayed up until 10:30 PM, I was sometimes tired the next day at school.  My father woke me up at 5 AM daily to practice piano one hour before walking to church and playing the organ  daily at 6:30 AM.  He even fashioned a small piece of wood to wedge between the piano pedals to hold down the middle pedal which dampened the sound of the keys.  My other sisters had to take turns  practicing one hour of piano after school.  Three other sisters practiced on one of our  two pianos.  Later, my sister Sheila began violin lessons and had to add that practice as well.  Once per week we drove to piano lessons.  We also had choir rehearsals once weekly.

Summers were an adventure with music practice in our house. I normally practiced four hours, sometimes longer or less depending upon inclination and weather outside beckoning me.  We all had longer hours to practice music in the summers.  4-H projects were also the norm:  cooking, sewing, safety, first-aid and more. Besides my job as the church organist which was a daily habit and three times on Sunday and all the funerals and weddings, I babysat in the neighborhood or tended lawns and gardens of neighbors who went on vacation.  The going rate for babysitting was 50 cents per hour.

Later in life, my mother wondered aloud to me about our childhood and whether I thought it had been too regimented. Life seemed normal to me. I don’t recall ever feeling stressed about school, church, outside activities, etc. It was expected of us, and I simply did whatever my task was.  Dinner was on the table when my father returned home from work.  I recall my mother spending hours cleaning the house, doing laundry, shopping for food and cooking and baking.

In retrospect, what a wonderful gift my parents gave us.  It taught me to live a purposeful and orderly life.  I learned to be organized, methodical, industrious and diligent in everything I did.  What a marvelous preparation for college, my study abroad and my teaching career.  I learned the value of doing something right and to be thorough.  That sometimes meant extra hours of work for a project or term paper.

As an educator, I interacted with all kinds of students and parents. Some taught their children to be independent, disciplined and organized.  They did not “do”  homework and projects for their children.  They had high expectations for their offspring.  The only thing I recall being told about studies and school/college was to do my best.  Today I am grateful for my parents and childhood.



Special thanks to Sally Rose, my niece, for some photos from Costa Rica.

This entry was posted in 4-H, church choir, church organist, educator, habits, music lessons, parental example and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Do Your Best!

  1. Emily says:

    Great blog! Love to hear stories from your childhood. Love the photos 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. irvin33 says:

    This story is very encouraging and beautiful and thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bernard25 says:


    Cette nuit je me suis reposé dans mon lit

    Aucun bruit n’est venu me déranger

    j’ai fais un rêve

    Et une personne m’a dis de venir te saluer

    Alors un énorme BONJOUR Pour la semaine

    Profite bien de celle-ci

    Passe un agréable journée

    Bisous amicaux Bernard

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Arno Bode,cologne ,Germany says:

    Liebe Mary Ann,
    bewundernswert wie stolz und respektvoll Du über Deine Familie , deine Kindheit und Jugend
    schreibst.Ein dizipliniertes Aufwachsen und struckturierte Tagesabläufe haben Dich erfolgreich geprägt,Dir ein erfülltes Berufsleben und ein glückliches Familienleben beschert ,und Dich zu einer erfolgreichen Autorin werden lassen.Eine Entwicklung,die bei Betrachtung heutiger Jugendlicher außergewöhnlich war.
    Ich hatte das große Glück ,Deinen liebevollen Vater bei seinem Deutschlandbesuch kennen zu
    lernen zu dürfen.
    Aus Deinen heutigen Schilderungen und Berichten über deine Familie ,dein Leben und dessen Entwicklung spricht die elterliche Fürsorge und Liebe in der Du aufgewachsen bist.Achtung vor Dir zu Deinem Werdegang und Achtung vor Deinem fürsoglichen Elternhaus.
    Liebe Grüße
    Dein Arno

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lieber Arno, I am humbled by your most kind words and comments. Some may interpret discipline as negative. I think it implies dealing with love. My parents did that as we grew up, and I tried to do the same with our two children. There is great responsibility implied with discipline. I had forgotten you had a chance to meet my father as well. I don’t know if my mother was along on that trip when a VW was purchased and shipped to Colorado from Germany. A yellow bug! My mother loved driving around town to do her grocery shopping. During my years teaching, I had high expectations for my students which also implies discipline. Always done with kindness and love – I hope anyway. Teens are not always fast to understand why daily homework was a high expectation of mine. I truly appreciate your thoughtful and insightful remarks, Arno. Have a good week ahead. ^__^


  5. Arno Bode,cologne ,Germany says:

    Liebe Mary Ann,
    ich hatte nur das große Glück Deinen lieben Vater kennen zu lernen.Deine Mutter habe ich nicht kennen gelernt.Ich kann nicht mit Sicherheit sagen,ob Deine Mutter mit in Deutschland war,als Dein Vater den VW in Wolfsburg abgeholt hat,und dann zu uns gekommen war.
    Dir und Deiner Familie alles Gute und liebe Grüße aus Cologne
    Dein Arno

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Arno, for the update. Perhaps she was not on that trip with my father. At the same time, one of my sisters was studying in Spain, and my mother was with her for a portion of the time. She may have remained there while my father went to Germany. You have a sharp memory of meeting him. I knew your father first in Colorado and later both of your parents when I was a student in Germany. I have fond memories of my time in Germany too. Our regards to you and your family as well. All the best, Mary Ann


  6. bernard25 says:

    Bonjour mon Amie ou Ami du Net

    Un petit coup de pouce pour l’avenir
    Un petit mot que l’on dis régulièrement tous les jours.
    Bonjour comment vas-tu , moi ça vas , merci
    Ce sont des petits mots qui font plaisir à entendre et d’une belle sincérité
    Une grande marque de confiance
    C’est du soleil en abondance
    Si tu leur donnes un sens

    On ressent que ceux-ci viennent du cœur
    Avec un clin d’œil moi je te les adresse
    C’est la recette du bonheur accepte les moi je les prends en régal pour ce jour

    Belle journée , gros bisous plein de douceur


    Liked by 1 person

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