Moms are great, most of the time. They do have one fatal flaw, and in the case of my own it is giving birth to the demonic creature that is a adolescent -then-preteen-then-teenage-then-early-twenties girl. i.e. Myself.
Mom makes you dinner, you accuse her of making you fat. Mom does your laundry, you accuse her of making you fat. Mom hugs you when you are crying, you maintain that if you were not fat you would not be crying. Mom gives advice, you don’t listen.
Lather rinse repeat.
Fast forward a few years, you are twenty-three, rapidly approaching your quarter-life crisis, and you come to the startling revelation that not only have you inadvertently listened to every single annoying piece of advice your mother has every given you but that you have actually transformed into the very woman plaguing you with this guidance.
And it is not a bad thing. Turns out your mom is a pretty bad-ass lady.
In Amsterdam this past December, I shared this realization with my mom before we embarked on the absolutely compulsory family friendly excursion to the infamous Red-Light district where quotes such as “Don’t say I never take you anywhere,” and “Look that one is smart! She is wearing glasses,” were uttered by the woman who birthed me. Those credibility-challenging statements aside, my mom just so happens to be a pretty smart woman with some insightful thoughts (she must wear glasses).
Over the largest glass of wine ever, and therefore the best glass of wine ever, asked her to compile a list of the advice she has given me over the years. I will share this with you now, and how exactly I tried to explicitly do the exact opposite as much as possible, because one thing that is not genetic is good sense.
MOM SUGGESTED: Pay yourself first. Begin with money earned babysitting, deposit first half into savings and spend the rest how you want.
DAUGHTER TESTED: All money earned from my first job being everyone’s bitch at Flying Star was mindlessly spent on expensive pants, pedicures, and tea. However, not drinking, buying groceries, or paying rent allowed me to accidentally save some sweet cash effectively setting me up quite nicely post-graduation through today.
VERDICT: Turns out having money to spare is excellent, and potentially dangerous to those with a predilection for developing addictions to disgustingly mundane and unimportant things. Seriously, don’t even get me started on podcasts and/or Kathy Griffin. My enjoyment of financial security has led to the development of some distressingly miserly tendencies, leading to toilet paper stealing and saving Satellite cups for weeks for the 50 cent refills (Can I get a “WHAT WHAT”). I am currently in monetary hoarding therapy which includes but is not limited to spending excessive amounts of money on alcoholic beverages and sweaters.
MOM SUGGESTED: Buy flowers for yourself, it makes you feel better when things aren’t looking so good that day.
DAUGHTER TESTED: See above for my initial thoughts regarding purchasing flowers. For someone who wouldn’t even spend money on magazines but instead spend hours at Barnes and Noble reading them (aka intellectual theft) this flower things was an unheard of extravagance. However, after a breakup I decided that my emotional health was priceless and began to include flowers in our weekly grocery haul. IT WAS THE BEST. I love flowers, the end.
VERDICT: Thank god for Trader Joes, where my miserly self could enjoy some fresh flowers weekly for a mere few dollars!
MOM SUGGESTED: Give yourself 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself when a bad event happens or you’re disappointed with the outcome of a situation. Then move on.
DAUGHTER TESTED: If by “ Give yourself 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself” my mom meant perpetually whine and periodically sob incessantly about whatever idiotic thing has upset me then I have really always followed this advice. This is one that I struggle with to this day, as I love to complain. Not love so much, as feel compelled to express my misery over whoever got cut from Top Chef that week verbally and often. No but really, I have failed at an impressive amount of things in my life and my mom lets me be as upset as I want for 24 hours and then she is just over it. You fully feel and express your feelings, and then move on to the next thing instead of remaining caught up in it for months and months.
VERDICT: I would say this particular advice applies to small things, like if you get dumped or if you get a C on a paper. However, if your cat gets run over or your identity gets stolen I think you can have longer than 24 hours to feel sad. I’ll allow it.
MOM SUGGESTED: Write out your long and short term goals. Make them as big as you want too. Review each year and place some where you will see them every day. Cross of the ones you accomplish.
DAUGHTER TESTED: I remember finding my mom’s list of goals and it had the (in my expert 7 year old opinion) most absurd things in it! Like, move to the British Virgin Islands or put only child up for adoption (kidding). But really, she keeps these really intricate lists about long and short term goals. The thing about the long term goals, is some of them are totally unrealistic but are more thoughts about what you would want to do if there were a lack of limitations upon you. I think it is especially revelant and helpful for people in my age bracket to do because the sky really is the limit. Moving to Sweden was on mine and now I am currently doing that.
VERDICT: I am working on my lists all the time, and I love it.
Get my Ph D
Write a novel
Live in France for a summer
Write for a magazine
Open a coffee shop
Read the news every day
Get my master’s degree
Run a marathon
MOM SUGGESTED: Yes/Maybe/No – when trying on clothes, place items that looks good on and you will buy on the YES hook. Things you didn’t like on the NO hook. The items that are a MAYBE at the store will be a MAYBE in your closet. Do not buy those because if you really want it you will go back later to buy.
DAUGHTER TESTED: Soooo…everything is a yes? Really though, I try to buy things that I love and those alone. I will spend 150 dollars on a pair of pants if I adore them and they miraculously fit both my enormous butt and significantly smaller waist. Done and done. The sequined bodysuit that I might wear to an 80’s party one day is a maybe and therefore a no.
VERDICT: This is also a helpful way to organize the dressing room itself. Three separate hooks and a whole lot of sanity.
MOM SUGGESTED: Something’s DON’T happen for a reason. When plans (or tryouts) don’t go your way, then it may be an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. There is a much better outcome ahead than if things went as planned. May take a while to see what that is but it will end up working out for the better. In the meantime, consider #2 and #3 above.
DAUGHTER TESTED: Let’s just say she has had to give this advice to me A LOT. I have a very specific idea of how I want things to be and if they are even a little bit different meltdowns occur. However, I know it sounds hokey as shit but things really do work out in the end. Maybe not in terms of it being “meant to be” or “in god’s plan” or whatever but in terms of we are always pretty much okay in the end. Horrible things happen, you deal with them, non horrible but slightly inconvenient things happen, you deal with them.
VERDICT: Everything will be okay, even if they are out of the frozen yogurt flavor you had been planning on eating all day. Choose another flavor, it is still frozen sugar topped with candy.
MOM SUGGESTED: Relationships are 50/50. Think of it as a cup that can only be filled 100 percent of the way, if you are filling to cup much more than 50% that leaves less space for the other to fill it up also..
DAUGHTER TESTED: I don’t know if anyone else finds this, but for me relationships have a interesting power dynamic Sometimes one person is caring more than the other and vice versa. I initially tend to be on the not-caring as much side, and during this time I have noticed that the other person is generally much more giving. If they give too much, then I feel like I can do whatever I want and tend to be a dick. I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is. However, when that power dynamic switches and I notice them not caring as much I immediately react and attempt to participate more. My participate more I mean smother until they get annoyed, I get more clingy, and then we never speak again. SO. This doesn’t seem like the best way to do it.
VERDICT: I personally like for my partner to give 50 percent, I need some space but not so much that I start to think you don’t like me anymore because then I get clingy-crazy. I tell my friends this all the time, and I really think it makes sense. If you don’t give the person space to give to you
MOM SUGGESTED: When in doubt, drink wine
DAUGHTER TESTED: yes