My mom rarely gave me the traditional guidance most mothers give their children. She didn’t give me the sex talk or know how to enforce a curfew. Vegetables weren’t mandatory and playing with glitter was prohibited. But she still taught me valuable life lessons that have served me well all these years. Your mother may have told you to brush your teeth every night before bed, but mine told me that if you drive a shitty car going 80 on the highway, you’re going to blow up.
1. Be kind and personable – Talk to people like you know them. It may seem like a silly suggestion but it could make someone’s day just to have a friendly exchange with a stranger.
2. If you’re going to do something bad, do it alone and then tell no one – Not your standard motherly advice, but makes sense, doesn’t it?
3. It’s okay to not be okay – You don’t have to have it all figured out with jobs, relationships, and life in general. She showed me that you’re allowed to be down but then you also have to make a plan and pick yourself back up. Resilience is key.
4. There’s no such thing as normal – She still asks me, “What the hell is normal?” We all have our own definition and there is no certain way to be. You do you. Let your freak flag fly. To each his own. And all those other sayings.
5. What doesn’t kill you makes you want to kill somebody else – I think it’s more honest than “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (but equal to “what doesn’t kill you makes you want to drink stronger liquor”).
6. Don’t talk about friends with other friends. If they are doing it with you, they will do it to you – Be a good friend. Start to recognize those who are good friends to you.
7. Dancing in the car like a fool cures all – Pick your favorite songs and sing loudly – solo or with a friend. I used to be traumatized by my mother jamming to My Neck, My Back by Kelis but now it’s something we laugh about.
8. Humor is the best defense against the universe – You have to be able to laugh at life and yourself. You always win if you can laugh in the worst situations.
9. Salt and butter your popcorn in the middle at the movie theater – Again, a bit silly but ask the person getting your popcorn to stop halfway through and allow you to do this. Otherwise, once you eat all the popcorn off the top, the rest of the bag isn’t nearly as good.
10. The first real heartbreak is always the worst – She told me it would get easier and, while sometimes it doesn’t seem so, maybe she meant you get better at dealing with it.
11. They always come back – Maybe not soon or at the right time. Maybe once you’ve moved on. Maybe they don’t stay forever but they come back.
12. Be an offensive driver – It’s way more fun than constantly being the safe, defensive driver especially when driving in big cities and traffic (sorry, Grandpa).
13. Everyone lives their own hell – When things were going downhill, she always reminded me of this. And it may have been the best thing she’s ever told me. As years went on and I observed other people and other families, I knew it to be true. All hells are not the same, but everyone carries their own.
14. And like I said, if you drive a shitty car and you go 80 on the highway, you’ll probably blow up.