When Becky Blades sent her firstborn daughter off to Harvard, she also sent her an email that contained all the motherly advice she'd compiled over the years. "With a simple Google search, you can find answers to most of the practical questions that your mom's generation had to phone home for," she explained. "But what you cannot find on the internet is your mother's voice -- the voice that loves you, the voice that wants the best for you, and the voice that can auto repeat inside your head with tidbits of wisdom to keep you safe, centered and slightly annoyed."
With her daughter's encouragement, Blades went on to add to that original email, illustrate it with her own collage-based artwork, and publish it in book form. Packed with advice that's silly, sweet, loving and practical, in a zippy, brightly-colored package, Do Your Laundry Or You'll Die Alone is the perfect gift for any young person who is leaving for college, graduating therefrom, starting a first job or otherwise heading out to conquer the world.
And what a great way to handle the pang of sending your first kid off to college. Don't despair -- create! Take that bittersweet moment and turn it into something cool and special.
A few of my favorite lines?
"Never lie to your mother. And if you do, never think you got away with it."
"Keep at least one stuffed animal."
"Admit when you're wrong."
"Hold babies whenever you get a chance. It's good for both of you."
"Reading is sexy."
"Have at least one outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks. Wear it until your friends start complaining."
"Do something nice or good every day and tell no one."
"Listen more and talk less."
"Don't sit on aluminum bleachers in a lightening storm."
"Memorize a passage of your favorite book or story. When you commit something to memory, it becomes a part of you."
"Get enough sleep."
"Get a cute umbrella."
"Learn to apologize. Few things honor and heal a relationship like a genuine 'I'm sorry.'"
"Chew with your mouth closed."
"Find a dentist you are not afraid of."
"Choose your battles. The fewer the better. Life is not a war."
"Pop tarts are the best quick-fix break-up food. In limited quantities, they have healing powers."
"Look people in the eye. You'll discover that this is hard to do while looking at your phone."
"Move your body. Exercise makes everything better."
"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. (You're smart enough to think of something nice.)"
"Leave your campground in better condition than you found it. In the urban world, this means cleaning your table at Starbucks, moving the shopping cart out of the middle of the parking lot, and letting the store clerk know when the restroom is out of toilet paper."
And most important?
"Remember your mother's birthday."
There's no question in my mind that if everyone took Blades' advice, the world would be a better place. I plan to do my part to help bring that about by gifting this book to as many people as possible.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy myself a cute umbrella.
(Roz Warren is the author of Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor. This review first appeared on Zestnow. )