Momma always said: More problems…

Photo by Rodrigo Senna

Like many of you, my mother influenced the person I am today. We share many of the same loves.

My mom still loves words, reading, crossword puzzles, and gardening, so do I. She also loved writing and walking when she was younger and I do too. And she always had a way of making me see things differently with the phrases she used.

One of Mom’s phrases: More problems than Carter has liver pills.

Here’s where it comes from:
more something than Carter has (liver) pills

a great deal of something. (Older; refers to a product called Carter’s Little Liver Pills.) Why he’s got more problems than Carter has pills! Bobby has more marbles than Carter has liver pills! See also: has, more, pill – McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

For this to have any meaning, you have to hear my mom’s timing for the phrase. Mom still will say this now and then, especially if I seem to be complaining or whining. Then I get to hear, “You have more problems than Carter’s liver pills.”

We all let life overwhelm us sometimes. This was Mom’s way of agreeing that to me it seemed like I had a lot of problems. And at the same time she was giving me a gentle reminder that perhaps those horrible problems were not as bad as I made them out to be. I think if you quizzed my sons, you would probably hear them tell you that I too have used that phrase and probably with even more of a tone than my mom did.

Since much of the time I am working with job seekers or career changers, and for them, life can be overwhelming. I think it helps to remember that we focus too hard on our problems at times.

When Mom said this to me, it often made me laugh. I usually realized that if I calmed down, I could resolve my problems perhaps by breaking things down into small steps and moving forward one step at a time.


  1. Michelle on May 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Mine would always say “… than Carter has pills” which confused me since Carter was president during some of that time. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized I had the wrong Carter and I always wondered why the President had so many pills. 🙂

    There’s also ” … than Kellog’s has cornflakes” 🙂


    • Julie Walraven on May 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      There are all kinds of expressions like that that we hear and don’t have a clue as to where they came from. Kellogg’s has cornflakes is another way of saying the same thing and might mean more to people who never heard of the Carter liver pills.

      I like clarifying what I am hearing to let it make sense to me. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle.

  2. Melissa on May 6, 2010 at 9:26 am

    My mom says the same thing, too! 😀

    You hit the nail on the head with your last statement — instead of letting the problems become overwhelming, just take a breath, and start moving in the right direction. It’s not about the obstacle that keeps a person from a goal; it’s about the incremental process that allows one to overcome whatever is happening.

    • Julie Walraven on May 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      You know it, Melissa! Whether you are a jobseeker or a business professional, you need to not let it get you so stuck that you can’t move forward.

  3. Kim Woodbridge on May 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Nice post Julie. I’ve been thinking a lot about Moms lately. When I would feel overwhelmed and tell my Mom that I couldn’t handle something she would tell me I had no choice. She was right, and I had to keep trying.
    .-= Kim Woodbridge´s last blog ..Mother’s Day: How Would You Like to Be Remembered? =-.

    • Julie Walraven on May 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      And so you have… working hard to create the right environment for you and Alex. Your Mom would be so happy.

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