I get a lot of motherly input in my life. I have an amazing mom, a fantastic mother-in-law, a one of kind older sister, world class sisters-in-law, aunts, great aunts, and friends. And over the course of those very many relationships, I have received countless pieces of advice -- both solicited and unsolicited (my personal favorite). This advice has covered a wide spectrum -- from useless to useful, silly to sensational, annoying to awe-inspiring.
So in honor of the upcoming Mother's Day, I picked a sampling of some of the favorite advice I have been given -- basically an Advice Anthology. Use what you will, discard the rest. You might find some of these tips too deep or too shallow, maybe even too obvious. And clearly there are whole categories I have left out. And some of you might even recognize your words of wisdom highlighted below, but I have left out most of your names to protect you from the paparazzi (and in case you don't want to take credit for the advice).
Tip #1: Everybody has a story -- take the time to listen to people and ask questions. That is the therapist's translation of "Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover." If you take the time to get to know someone, you will find they have a history -- they, like all of us, are the sum total of their life experiences, both good and bad. You will find something interesting or likeable in everyone.
Tip #2: If you are over 30 and you leave the house, it won't kill you to put on a little mascara. When I first received this advice -- when I was decidedly under 30 -- I thought it was annoying and maybe even a little sexist. I mean, who cares if my lashes look elongated. But now that 30 is such a distant memory in the rearview mirror of my life, I think it is a cautionary and helpful message. This piece of advice really comes in handy when I mistakenly have pushed the button on my phone that takes a selfie vs. a photo. You might have heard me scream when that happens even with mascara.
Tip #3: It is never a problem to be more "dressed" than anyone else, within reason. Clearly, the resident fashionista in my family will recognize this piece of advice as hers. Okay, now that doesn't mean that you should wear a sundress to exercise class or a ball gown to the office. The bottom line is the worst that people will say about you is that you put some effort into the occasion (or that you didn't read your e-mail).
Tip #4: When you are feeling low, sad or unmotivated, go "outside yourself". Do something nice for someone else. Volunteer, help a friend or stranger in need, engage in something bigger than the stresses you are experiencing in that moment. It will give you perspective.
Tip #5: Snuggle up in a bed with a good book at night. Now admittedly, this one might date me as many people prefer to snuggle up with a nice warm ipad or smartphone. But it is a truly relaxing way to end a day, to take your mind somewhere else without noise or sound. Note: This advice was not terribly effective the time I was 13 and fell asleep with a halogen lamp over my bed which fell over onto my wool blanket and almost caused a fire. Try to avoid that part.
Tip #6: Text/call/send a smoke signal upon arrival to anywhere from anywhere regardless of the method of transportation. I travel quite a bit for work, and every time I go somewhere, I let my mother know when I arrived. This is a considerate thing to do, children, as some of your mothers, like mine, might really be sure that the lack of contact is a precursor to bad news. Just because you know that the plane will land in the right airport (with very few exceptions), your mothers might not have that same sense of certainty.
Tip #7: Make sure you pick a partner who whom you have common areas of interest. This advice is paraphrased e from a toast my sister may have given at my most recent birthday I really take this advice to heart. My husband and I seriously have a lot of common interests -- but high among them is that I think I am funny and he thinks I am funny. That has been key to the success of our marriage. FYI, for those of you who have a partner who thinks he/she is funny but isn't -- you know what I mean.
Tip #8: Share in other people's joy and record milestones. We all need friends and family for the hard times, but we must always find time to celebrate. If you can name it, and have people to share it with, celebrate it -- birthdays, half birthday (seriously we do), weddings, births, Bar Mitzvahs, communions, christenings, any religious holiday, graduations (that can include pre-school and online certifications), first day and last day of camp/school/summer, getting a permit, getting a good grade, starting a new job, receiving a clean bill of health, having a snow day, enjoying the first piece of gum after removing braces.
So on this Mother's Day, share the best advice you have been given with the people around you. And celebrate all of the women in your life who have helped you on your path. I am sure your kids, like mine, will find every word out of your mouth inspiring and helpful.
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