The editor and his mom, Judy, get rolling at his place, around 1999. And Scott and his brother Tim.
LEFT: The editor and his mom, Judy, get rolling at his place, around 1999. BELOW: Little men at work—Scott and his brother Tim (in red) get started early, circa 1970.
May 2014

"Why don't you—"


"I'm just saying you should—"


"It's just that—"


You've probably already guessed, but that was a recent exchange between my mom and me. A fairly typical exchange, especially when I'm doing something DIYish around the house and she's poking around where it's not really necessary for her to poke. It's her way of offering advice. Whether I want it or not. And it usually comes at that crucial stage where I've dropped and stooped to pick up the tiny little screw for the third or fourth time and am on a ladder struggling overhead, with a too-tired arm, to get that screw started in its hole. In other words, the frustration is high, the tolerance for suggestion is low, and the desire to be an orphan is strong.

Which isn't to say that I've always wanted to be a ward of the state. In fact, through the years I've learned many useful lessons, particularly around home improvement, from my mother. The biggest lesson, I think, was a certain work ethic. That was absorbed from watching her, a single mother of three boys, forced to leave homemaking to become a paperhanger, using the only skill she had that she knew she could support us with. And I know that because of it, she had lots of her own up-and-down the ladder and too-tired arms. She got that attitude, I think, from her mother, my grandmother Olive, whom I've mentioned to you before, particularly her propensity to climb to the roof and clean out gutters well into her late 80s.

reader Dennis Prisant and his handy mom, Bernice, in 1958 and reader Michael Ritenour and his mother, Yvonne, aback in 1967.
LEFT: TOH reader Dennis Prisant and his handy mom, Bernice, in 1958. RIGHT: Michael Ritenour and his mother, Yvonne, an early upcycler, back in 1967. Find their stories in DIY Lessons From Mom.
Of course, any regular reader of This Old House certainly knows there is no shortage of women who do the hard work at home. And that same reader knows I'm not the only member of the TOH family who has learned a thing or two from dear old Mom. Which is why, this being the May issue, and May being the calendric home to Mother's Day, it seemed only natural to let some readers share with us what they learned from their own moms.

You'll find the best of that advice in DIY Lessons From Mom, and a few of their more nostalgic photos at right. Maybe these readers' stories will spur memories of lessons well learned at the apron str—I mean, tool belt—of your own dear mother. If so, we'd love to hear them. Like us on Facebook and post your favorite DIY advice from Mom on our wall. We'll showcase our favorite entries online in celebration of Mother's Day.

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