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The Funniest Book of Mom Advice

Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

What advice does your mom always give you? In her hilarious new book, Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?, comedy writer Patricia Marx shares her mom’s one-line tips, and the genius cartoonist Roz Chast illustrates them. Here are a few…

Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

Marx’s descriptions of her mother are also pitch-perfect: “My father thought my mother looked like the actress Jacqueline Bisset. My mother thought my father should put on a different shirt. ‘The only men who can get away with short-sleeved button-downs are butchers,’ she said.”

What life wisdom does your mom give you? My mom always says that lemon will save any middling recipe, and everyone’s just worried about themselves at parties.

P.S. Another book that made me laugh out loud, and the five best graphic novels.

  1. Zaraza says...

    This is late- but actually apropos. My grandma taught me about the ‘le dix de politesse’: you must always be 10-15 minutes late to a house party. Those are the last few minutes the hostess spends to make sure she looks good, after she has prepared everything for you to feel great in her home. I always appreciate that tactful approach from my own guests.

  2. CK says...

    With a southern grandmother and a Norwegian grandmother my sister and I were forever being lectured by the two of them and our very correct mother.
    From our southern gramma:
    “It is not a sin to be poor, but it is a crime to be dirty.”
    “Lovely manners will always protect you in social situations.”
    From our Norwegian grandmother:
    “Only gypsies use paper napkins.” (Norwegians use linen, cotton if the linens are in the ironing basket.)
    “Are we HEATHENS?” (Usually said to one of use for poor table manners.)
    “There WILL be dragons.” (we are pretty sure this is our family Mantra)
    From our mother:
    “Listen to your grandmothers.”
    “Cinderella Liberty is just smart. Nothing good happens to teenage girls after midnight.”
    I still use linen napkins and am a clean house nut, my sister is a heathen. Haha

  3. Kim says...

    My mum always says, “you get what what you get, and you don’t get upset”. I say it every day to my boys now.

  4. S says...

    I remember my grandmother saying this a lot, “inherited” from her mother: “You ain’t sugar and you’re nobody’s honey so you won’t melt!” when anyone complained about going outside in the rain :-)

  5. Kate says...

    Whenever we asked my mom if something was ‘good’ like a cookie, or a book, or really anything, she’d shrug and say, “Ham’s good if you like ham!”

    Ha!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  6. Liz says...

    Mother comment I use when appropriate, someone might not like what the group ordered for lunch, “then they can throw it on the floor”. And another food related comment that I reassure myself with if anxiety overcomes me when planning meals for people. “If they dont like it, it is just one meal out of their entire life”

  7. Eileen says...

    Ah, this post and these comments. I just buried my mom one week ago after a long and courageous battle (she was 84). she showed me how to live, how to love and how to die. It was a long time coming, and she is now at peace but oh, what I would give to hear one more time:
    “Not today Josephine”- no one in my family knows who Josephine is- when asked, she said she didn’t know but its how her mother told her no!
    “This too shall pass” was another one of her favorites.
    “I have met many people in my life and never did I find one that worry did anything good for”
    A few days before she died I asked her what did she most want me to remember, her response was “Be Kind Always”.
    My mom and I were never particularly close in my growing up years, but in the end years of her life, we grew so very close and she saw no limitations even though every single day was a struggle. she would tell me things she would like to do before she died and I figured out how to do it. It wasn’t easy, but I would give anything for one more of her wacky requests. On the day she died, I asked her did she need anything, and she said, you have given me everything, what more could I need and she closed her eyes and drew her final breaths shortly thereafter. How to live and how to die, I got it all.
    Thanks for giving me the space to share, I am feeling a bit lost these days.

    • Agnes says...

      Oh so beautiful Eileen.. thank you for sharing your dear mom with us! I’m so sorry you’ve lost her!

    • Sasha L says...

      My gosh, so beautiful Eileen. Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a special mom.

    • Michele says...

      Thank you for blessing us with your story and the wise sayings. A beautiful tribute to your Mom and her legacy. Take care.

    • D says...

      Beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Jessie says...

      My mum and her family say ‘not today, Josephine’ too and we’ve never known where it comes from! We’re in Australia; I didn’t realise other people used the same expression!

    • Jessie says...

      Oh my goodness I just did a quick google and apparently the phrase comes from Napoleon refusing sex with Empress Joséphine. :0 I don’t think my mum had any idea!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, eileen, for sharing some of your mother’s beautiful words and wisdom with us. she sounds like an incredible special person who loved you deeply. i’m so, so sorry for your tremendous loss.

    • Ana says...

      Echoing all the sentiments here but just wanted to say thanks for sharing all these sweet wisdoms and beautiful words. Sending you oceans of love and a big hug from a stranger.

    • Louise says...

      I’m sorry for your loss too Eileen and I just wanted to say that you sound like such a great daughter. Your mom must have felt so lucky to have you

  8. Meghan Brendon Stellman says...

    My aunt said the cow thing to my cousin when she moved in with her then-boyfriend.

    After my cousin’s now-fiance proposed to her, he went to her parents and said (freshly) “I’d like to talk to you about buying a cow.”

  9. Jess says...

    I love these. My mom wasn’t huge on catchphrases for advices, but she gave me a few (especially during a good talking to) that are vivid in my memory:
    “Do you think I own the power company?” (whenever a room was empty with the lights still on)
    “Life’s not a fashion show” (whenever I was fretting too much about what to wear — never worked because I /wished/ my life was a fashion show then)
    “If I go there and find it, I’ll make you swallow it” (whenever I was screaming I couldn’t find something)

    But she also thought I was the strongest, smartest, most incredible person ever. Moms are the best, really.

  10. Margie says...

    When my sisters and I were in our late teens my Mother would always say, “He won’t buy the cow if he’s getting the milk for free.” My husband married the cow.

    My words of wisdom for my daughter is “Never eat anything bigger than your head”.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “My husband married the cow.” = hahahaha

  11. Nanette says...

    After hearing my aunt tell a very convoluted story about why my cousin was born weighing over 8 pounds but only 7 months after she and my uncle were married my mother said, “The first baby can come at any time, the rest take nine months.” It was a different time, but her sense of humor still makes me laugh to this day.

    • maison sheik says...

      This is hilarious!

  12. Laney says...

    If I have heard my mom say “one day at a time” once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. I stubbornly hate hearing it but repeat it all. the. time. to my often very grateful friends!

    • Erin says...

      My mom’s advice is similar: “Do the next right thing.” AKA don’t get too hung up on how what you’re doing today will impact you in ten years (especially with regard to school, jobs, moves, etc.), because the future is impossible to predict. Rather, take the steps you need to today, and they will serve you well. This was so freeing as an anxious young adult when it felt like every decision was going to determine the course of the rest of my life so I needed to get them all “right.”

  13. Linda says...

    My best friend’s mother always said, if someone pays you a compliment, smile and say thank you! I love this and share it with my daughter.

    She also said before we’d go out, no drinking, no smoking, no funny cigarettes. We didn’t listen ha!

    My mother always said, don’t put anything in writing you don’t want me or the police to read.

  14. Sarah says...

    I had a friend’s mother actually tell me in middle school, “reputations are easy to make, but hard to shake.” Its good advice for the rest of your life.

  15. Elise says...

    During a particular trying time of being a young 20-something and navigating adult relationships, my mom told me, “People let you down.”

    I brought this up to her a couple years ago and she was surprised that she had said something so dark, but I told that at the time, it was a great comfort. It’s not that people suck, but that it just won’t do to find your peace/happiness/security/self-worth in other people because they’re only human. It’s a good reminder to not put unrealistic expectations on people, or yourself.

  16. Agnes says...

    My mom would say to us in the 80’s, ‘never give a man money’ and ‘men only want one thing, don’t give it to them.’ Haha!

  17. Megan says...

    Best advice ever from my mom, when I was going through a hard time and imagining painful outcomes – “Don’t borrow trouble”. She is so right!!!

  18. Erin says...

    “Don’t keep magazines around – they will make you focus on what you don’t have.”
    “Clean the house before you leave on a trip – it will feel good to return to a clean house.”
    “Wear a comfortable bra.” Finances were very tight, but we *always* had properly fitted bras.
    And of course: “Life is not fair”, “I’m your mother; it’s my job” (aka “I’m your mother, not your friend”), and “I don’t care what the other parents say.”

    “When your body has curves, you don’t need the tricks that other girls need.” I doubt she even remembers saying it, but we were in a dressing room when I was in college and couldn’t get clothing that looked good on model-thin friends to work for me. It made me really appreciate what I had – curves! curves everywhere! – and she picked out some simple items that really showed them off. The off-cuff remark stayed with me.

    On a serious note, it was very important to her (and my dad) that I knew that they’d prefer I cancel a wedding than go through with it with doubts, even it was the day-of. They both brought it up separately and individually from about age 13 onward.

  19. My mother has a dark worldview, one I have felt lucky not to inherit. I love this thread filled (mostly) with joy and optimism. :)

    • Nic says...

      I relate to this. Always a bit heart-tugging reading these lovely anecdotes and happy mom memories… mine wasn’t the happiest lady, and I’m glad to have a different outlook on life :D

  20. Abbey says...

    I love this post and comments so much!
    Some of my mom’s advice…
    On cooking: “Never use water where you can use broth.”
    On life: “If you wait until you have all your ducks in a row all you end up with is a row of ducks.” Meaning, if there’s something you really want/want to do just go for it rather than putting it off until everything is “right.”

    • Louise says...

      I love both of these!

  21. Sasha Wagner-Ashford says...

    My mum always used to say: “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say it.” Another one to stop gossiping and being judgmental of others.

  22. Michele says...

    A few goodies from my Mom:
    When a conversation became awkward, she says “So, do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” That was our clue to move on to another topic.

    When we were trying to make something perfect, she says “It’s not going to the county fair!” In other words, no judging was going to happen.

    And one passed down from my Grandma: “If everyone hung their troubles out on the line, you’d rush to grab your own.” Puts things into perspective.

    • Marygrace says...

      Really love these, thank you!

    • Joy says...

      Ooh these are great!!

  23. Hilary says...

    When I was pregnant with my first child, my mom gave me a card that simply said, “Now you will know how much I love you.” It was the single most touching thing I’ve ever read.

    • Linda says...

      made me cry!
      so sweet!
      :)

    • Nic says...

      that is so sweet!

  24. My parents got married within a year of meeting each other I think, which seems very unlike my mom considering how planned and “responsible” she is. When I was a kid, any time my dad would do something annoying or say something weird (like that his hearing aides were picking up a Russian signal or that he lived in the trunk of a tree as a child) my mom would turn to me and say “Do your research,” meaning research the person I marry before I marry them.

    • KT says...

      This is hilarious, but also—your dad sounds awesome!

  25. Caroline says...

    So many mom wisdom gems in the comment section, but the spitting up in the air and the dancing priest are hard to beat! 😂

  26. Heidi says...

    My mom says “Ignorance is not an excuse” and my grandma would say, “If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask.” This was usually after I asked her how my hair looked and she’d disapprove of it (she hated bangs).

    My DAD actually has great life advice- usually in the form of fixing cars. After he’d fix my brakes, he’d say- “You have to drive around the block and slam on them hard to make sure they work.” I extrapolate this to everything in life- you have to try it to know if it will work or not, even if it’s scary!

    • Heidi says...

      And one more- when going through some bad anxiety, my friend shared with me what her mom always told her- “It will be, and it will be over.” Super comforting, actually!

  27. Awads says...

    From my Grandma:
    * Nothing good happens after midnight
    * You can’t change a man, but you can change what he wears
    * Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything

    And my mother, who tired of always helping her kids find lost items:
    *If i find it, can i throw it at you? (which we always agreed to, and she followed through. My friends and i still do that to each other)
    * is an accident waiting to happen
    *4 kids isn’t too much for one mother, but one mother is too much fo r4 kids (sob!)

  28. DS says...

    When I was upset over a breakup, even though I was making the objectively right choice: “Emotions are not rational. That’s why they are called emotions, not rations.”

  29. Emily says...

    My mom has so many good sayings. These are some of my favorites:

    “People are more important than things.”
    “You can never have too many socks or underwear.”
    “Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down.” (She’s a doctor and this one was prompted by her many hours at the hospital on call)

    Also, usually whenever I thank her for something, her response is “I’m a mom. It’s what we do.” :)

    • Olivia ten Kate says...

      YES! My mother was a nurse and said the same thing. Varicose veins!

  30. G says...

    One of my favorites from my 95 year old grandmother, translated roughly from Italian to English: If you spit up in the air, eventually it will come back down in your face.

    :)

    • Jessie says...

      Oh my gosh, my Italian grandma always said this, too! :)

  31. Rebecca P. says...

    I heard “different strokes for different folks” so many times when I was growing up! I didn’t realize at the time, but this was a gracious way of preventing conversations from taking a judgmental or gossipy turn. I appreciate this corny little phrase so much in today’s world!

    In the same vein, when I wrestled over monumental teenage decisions, my parents would tell me to just “do what floats your boat.” Sometimes I wonder how they managed to be so relaxed.

  32. Laura says...

    “Your deepest cut is your deepest cut”. While a paper cut or some other problem may seem trivial to you, it may be significant to someone else. It’s all relative.

    “When you can’t decide what to do, just do SOMETHING”. Helped with my “analysis paralysis” and if it was the wrong choice, I figured it out pretty quickly and…. lo and behold, I survived:)

    Loving this thread! Lots I will now bestow on my kiddos!

    Thanks!

  33. Megan says...

    My best friend’s mom used to tell us “Boyfriends are like pancakes. You have to throw out the first few.”

    • Julie says...

      Hah!

    • Kate says...

      lolol my mom’s was “You have to kiss a log of frogs before you find your prince!”

  34. Lisa Chow says...

    My mom would say to me “This is not your box to carry.”

    As a very sensitive teen, and I would feel very wounded on behalf of a friend. My mom said this to remind me that – while I can keep a friend company during hard times – don’t take on the weight of their problems. They are not mine to carry or to fix.

  35. MKW says...

    To all the Moms and daughters highlighted in the comments…. may I someday be even half as wise and open-hearted as these insightful, loving women. Enjoying this post immensely.

  36. kash says...

    I am LOVING reading these tips!

    Three from my mom (who is such a champion)

    1. Always pack an extra pair of underwear when you go on a trip

    2. If you wash your dishes with a dishcloth, rinsing it with very cold water after you use it keeps it smelling fresh.

    3. “Honestly, no one is thinking about you as much as you think they are.”

    • Natalie says...

      The advice about nobody thinking about you is what my mom always always said to me too!

  37. Meredith says...

    My mom’s go-to: “Dumber people than you have done this.” Oddly comforting and generally true (learning to drive, flying by yourself, etc.).

  38. Kelly says...

    My mom joined a neighborhood ladies group. At the kickoff, one of the organizers started things off by saying something about how they should all try not to drink too much, gossip about each other or swear at these events.

    To which my mother replied, jesus christ, if we can’t drink swear and gossip, what’s the point?

    • Sadie says...

      I want this in needlepoint!

    • Grace says...

      Yes!! This ladies group sounds like a snooze fest without your mom.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  39. Jessica says...

    “Never make any decisions about your life, your worth, your marriage or your job without enough sleep.”
    And similarly–“Adults are just like babies. When they are hungry, tired, or need a bathroom, they act and feel like jerks”

  40. I had a very turbulent adolescence and my mom supported me by being invariably affectionate and compassionate. Whenever I was down, and there was nothing she could say to cheer me up, she’d say, “love pill?” And I’d jump up into her arms and wrap my legs around her waist. Somehow this combination of silly and sweet always made me feel a little better. My mom is very strong, even today at 60, and she still offers me her love pills and they still work their magic.

    • Sadie says...

      My mom, when other people might have used the word, “Goodbye,” always called out, no matter where I was headed, “Have fun!” Whether I was going to school in the morning, to a dull study session, to church, or on a trip, it was her daily wish for me. She is a fun-loving person and she knows how to enjoy herself wherever she is. It’s an underrated strength in a person.

    • Silvana says...

      Only moms can do that….suuuuper

  41. Lauren E. says...

    Once when I was 21 and broke, I called my incredibly-fiscally-conservative mom from Zara, lusting over a gorgeous leather jacket that I absolutely could not afford. She told me to buy it. “You’ll never regret spending money on a classic.” Boom.

  42. My mother told me, NOBODY cares about your career other than YOU and YOUR MOTHER. Other people are busy worrying about their own careers with THEIR OWN mothers.

    Oddly liberating.

  43. Susan says...

    On making questionable choices my mom always said, “If so-and-so (insert name here) jumped off a bridge would you follow?” Not exactly PC, but nobody cared about that way back when. She got the point across, though

    • tmercí says...

      Yes! I heard this so many times.

  44. Brooke says...

    my mom always said that when someone says something and then says “oh, i’m just joking,” they meant what they said at around 10%. it’s caused me a lot of laughs, but also some anxiety over the years.

  45. Leslie says...

    -whenever I dared to utter if, or but “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas”
    – whenever I complained that we always were so early to everything, from doctor’s appointments to birthday parties “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable”
    – whenever I messed up, got a stain on my new dress, lost something, etc. “the only thing money can’t buy is you, so I’m just glad you’re safe”

  46. Tania says...

    “Every post can’t be a winner” — which doesn’t make a lot of sense but I think just means sometimes things just don’t work out — and, my favorite, “A pickled onion never goes bad” (have that second drink if you want it).

    • Meredith says...

      “Every post can’t be a winner” makes me wonder if she’s talking about horse racing. I’m from Kentucky so the Kentucky Derby comes to mind, each horse has its own post (randomly assigned I believe), which is the position where they start the race (being on the inside would presumably be an advantage). But there’s only one winner. And with horse racing in particular, the stakes are so high but so much of your success is just dumb luck – they’re all great horses.

  47. Jessie says...

    Some gems from my mom:
    – Everyone was a beginner once (when I would get frustrated about not being as advanced or talented at a skill or hobby)
    – Everwhere you go in life, there will be someone better than you & someone worse than you (meaning there are people who would love & are working towards your current accomplishments & don’t forget you were once wishing to be where you are. And then always keep striving to be better, never rest on your laurels or think you’re the absolute best).
    And my personal favorite:
    -There are a$$holes at every job (said to me when I was crying over a particularly mean coworker & I mentioned I wanted to switch jobs. She reminded me that no job or workplace is perfect…or completely absent of difficult people)

  48. lauren says...

    “Dull women have immaculate homes.”
    She also talked my stressed-out sister into delegating DIY (hollowing out out a bunch of books to create table centerpieces with succulents) the night before her wedding by saying, “Look, I’m stronger than you are, and I can f*ck up my hands.” Very situation-specific, but weirdly applicable across the board: sometimes you’ve got to let the people who love you get dirty on your behalf.

    • Marisa says...

      OMG I love this “dull women have immaculate homes” advice—I’m keeping this one! thanks! :)

    • agnes says...

      “dull women have immaculate home.” How can I quote your mom? Lauren’s mom? Tell her thanks from me, that made my day :-)

  49. Arianne says...

    “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” Literally the perfect line for pretty much any situation – a bad day, a shitty job, a relationship that didn’t live up to your expectations. All my friends say it now because of Susan!

  50. Kate says...

    This is not advice but……raise your hand if your Mom said “Don’t make me stop this car!”…..and raise your hand if you have said it to your own kids!

  51. Linds says...

    My Mom doesn’t have any catchphrases, so to speak. But once, after a breakup, I sent her a text saying I could use a “mom hug.” She was at my doorstep the next morning—a full 7-hour drive away. That spoke volumes.

    • aaand I’m crying <3

    • Kathryn says...

      This perfectly sums up a mom’s love.

    • maia says...

      Ooh, that’s so lovely she’s done such a thing for you! <3 <3

    • anne says...

      new mom here; want to drive to your mom’s house just to hug her.

  52. T says...

    My grandmother always said to my mom (and then my mom would say it to me): “Pretty is as pretty does.”

    As a kid I always rolled my eyes at it, but wow, I think of it every day now.

    And my nanny: “Cheaters never prosper.”

    I had the same reaction then and now.

    • ANDREA says...

      I would say that the current Executive in Chief has prospered a lot.

    • T says...

      I think her point was “maybe it will work out in the short run, but everyone will get their comeuppance, one way or another.”

      And I believe that.

  53. Anon says...

    My favorite saying from my mom is “Even an idiot can [fill in the blank], and you’re not an idiot”. She tells me this whenever I’m doubting my abilities, whenever I’m nervous or anxious. Like when I was scared about taking the driver’s license test: “Idiots drive all the time, so even you can do this”. And I did! It’s very comforting.

  54. Leah says...

    When we used to disagree about things, my mom would say “Well, that’s just what makes horse races!”

    Another thing she would say, if we wanted to go into a store she didn’t want to stop at, “I didn’t lose anything there.” Infuriating!

    If kids were running around like crazy at someone’s house or school, my mom would warn us, “no wilding!” Used to drive me nuts, but how much do you want to bet I’ll use it on my own kids?

  55. Cynthia says...

    Mama always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I told you so was her favorite if I did something she knew would backfire and I did it any way. If I was having a hard time making a decision, she would say he who hesitates is lost. Save something for a rainy day. I could go on and on. I said many of these to my own girls when they were growing up.

  56. CaraM says...

    My favorite Mom saying that my sisters and I love to quote is, “Always wear the proper undergarments.” I consciously think this thought every time I put on an outfit – it reminds me to spend money on proper foundations and to always leave my house in underwear I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in (think an emergency room visit).
    My Mom was also big into two things – “Always write a thank you note” (we always received a fresh pack in our Christmas stocking or with birthday gifts) and “make an effort to include others.” The last quote is something I think about all of the time. My Mother was a big champion for the underdog and always encouraged us to reach out to the kid sitting alone at lunch or be inclusive as possible when we hosted birthday parties. If I was limited to birthday party guests, she told me to be conscious of others and to not talk about it in public, so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. If you’ve ever not been invited to a party that others are talking about in front of you, you know how this makes you feel!

    • Ae says...

      My mom would say the same about underwear and emergencies and now that I treat people in the ER, I can confidently say that if you’re IN the ER you’ve got much bigger problems than what your undies look like. Trust me, your doctor doesn’t even notice (and most of time, you’ve changed or been changed into a gown)

  57. Lisa says...

    My mom is a teacher, but she always used to say “good is good enough” meaning you don’t have to be the beat at everything. There is enough pressure on a teenage girl, and even if the grade wasn’t perfect, it was good enough. I didn’t finish school with perfect scores, but I also kept my sanity and got in to a university when I wanted to, studying exactly what I want to. When my anxiety would strike she used to tell me “no one is sick, and no one is dead” basically meaning that whatever I’m sad or stressed about is probably fixable and/or doesn’t matter in the end.

    • Robin says...

      That is very good advice! Those are the exact words that calm me down when I’m stressing out about work. Essentially, the world is not going to end, and I’m doing a good enough job. Sounds like you have a good mom.

    • kash says...

      Not my mom, but one of my girlfriends has the best saying–she always says “don’t let the perfect get in the way of the finished”

      we both did our PhDs but, unsurprisingly, she finished literally two years before me

  58. Louise says...

    My mother taught me not to fawn over or be overly solicitous to men. That has served me well.

    • Christy says...

      Ooh that’s a good one.

  59. shelby says...

    My grandmother was an extremely elegant, Southern woman with humor and personality for days. Some of her most memorable sayings included:
    1. “Turkeys are done and people are finished.” It drove her crazy when someone would say “I’m done with dinner.” People are finished, darling.
    2. I had to wear corrective saddle oxford shoes when I was little and I absolutely hated them. I wanted “beautiful shoes” like the other girls. She told me “if people are looking at your feet, there must be something wrong with your face, and that’s the bigger concern.”
    3. “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

    • CJ says...

      I loved this💕. My mother-in-law would always place a grandchild by her at the dinner table so she could correct their grammar, needless to say that didn’t go over too well.

  60. Avalanche Lake says...

    “Just let it roll of your back,” (i.e., don’t let it get to you). I think because I heard that so many times, I turned out to be pretty unflappable.

  61. Emma says...

    I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I always used to get upset if things didn’t look just *so.* My Mom always used to say, “A man flying by on horseback would never notice.” It used to drive me crazy (“THERE ARE NO MEN RIDING HORSES HERE MOM”) but now it’s a running joke between us. It cracks us up every time.

  62. JoeG says...

    When as a teenager I would complain by saying “if” as in ‘if I had only gotten one more point I would have had an A on that test’ my Mom would invariably say ‘If your Aunt had balls she’d be your Uncle’.

    • Alex says...

      :D :D :D

    • Theresa says...

      Oh, I love this.

    • Adrienne says...

      This just made me laugh!

  63. Cindy says...

    My mom taught me that people love hearing their own name. So instead of just saying, “Hi,” instead say, “Hi, Kevin.” I started doing this in high school and felt so fancy and grown up. I still do it, and she was right: people always light up a little.

    Also, when writing a difficult letter, always sleep on it before sending.

  64. Reenie says...

    My mom has shared so many bits of wisdom throughout the years. She makes me laugh with so many of her sayings but has advice for any situation. ‘Don’t leave your drink unattended at a party’, ‘Never sit on a public toilet seat’ , ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.

  65. Meg says...

    “If you hang out with goats, you’re going to smell like a goat, even if you aren’t a goat.” – Mom

    Never were there truer words. This gave me courage to have self-respect and ditch the goats many times throughout my life haha.

    • Stefanie says...

      I’m totally stealing this! I have a 10 and an 8 year old and they may actually listen since a goats involved. Thanks!

  66. Kate says...

    My mum told us if your are constipated rub your chin clockwise… apparently stimulates your butt nerves. Ridiculous!! Last week I saw my three year old daughter sitting on the potty rubbing her chin and thought… shit she has already got to you

    • Meg says...

      bahahahah! I love this story. My grandma wouldn’t let us go swimming until it got to 85 degrees because the cold water would give us polio. Where does this stuff come from?!

    • Emily says...

      HAHA! I am cackling over this one!

  67. Emily says...

    These are so good, I had to write a couple down so that I can use them on my kids!

  68. MKW says...

    When aganozing over choices, Mom would remind me: “Often either will be a good choice. Sometimes one must just make a decision and run with it.” Now keep in mind this was more day-to-day choices like paint colors, brand of toilet paper, etc. She wasn’t talking about husband material!!! Ha… in retrospect I nearly used that model for a few guys I dated. Trust me. It’s good advise when choosing color of bath towels. It sucks for relationships!

  69. Helga Thomsen says...

    My mom is from Yugoslavia (Croatia if she emigrated today) so I think that a lot of what she used to tell me was translated into English and didn’t apply to my late 70s punk rock youth. The one thing I still remember is that whenever we were getting ready for guests she would always tell me to vacuum “only where the priest dances.” I knew exactly what she meant and to this day that advise makes me laugh and keeps me calm when prepping for parties.

    • kash says...

      Helga, this is SO funny (and honestly such good advice!)

    • Kim says...

      Ha ha!- I love that, Helga. I think more people would entertain at home if they took that attitude.

    • anne says...

      so funny! my grandmother entertained priests– they didn’t dance but boy did they drink.

    • Silvana says...

      I am laughing aloud…..I live in Croatia…and that’s exactly what we still say…so funny

  70. Karen T. says...

    These comments are killing me. The best. Seriously the best.

  71. Karen T. says...

    My mom had a ton of repeatable advice but the one she always said when my teenaged sister and I walked out the door for the night was “Stay away from tattooed mud-wrestlers and unsavory characters.” When she passed away at 59, my sister made Christmas ornaments for each of us siblings–on the front of each one was a picture of my mom, on the back is one of her advice sayings. I know them by heart and I so cherish those six ornaments. My favorite (and the one I try to live my life by) is “Always take the high road.”

    • Michele says...

      What a lovely idea. Your Mom was full of great advice!

    • anne says...

      what a hilarious mom and touching gift!

  72. SB says...

    My brothers and I were all in the same school production of Charlotte’s Web when we were 8, 6, and 3 (me). So of course we all got super into it! From that point onwards, whenever one of us was down, mum would always say “Chin up, Charlotte!” (even though it’s actually Charlotte who is saying ‘chin up’ to Wilbur…). But that surfaced during scraped knees when learning how to bike, all the way to major break-ups as adults.

  73. Emily says...

    The Queen of hair experiments (in the 80/90s) she often consoled me with “the good thing about hair is that it grows back.”

    Confusingly, she also said “your hair is your crowning glory”.

    I’m laughing out loud at so many of these, mums are a hoot.

  74. Alba says...

    All my friends repeat my mum’s mantras:
    1. Trust is like a vase. If it breaks, you can repair it, but you will always see the cracks.
    2. When you are feeling blue, put lipstick on.
    3. Time is the only thing you can’t buy.

  75. Laura C. says...

    I will quote my dad (sorry I’m translating): “There are more days than sausages”. It means, there is always time ahead to do things. Just a reminder to not rush and try to do everything at once.

    • Ne says...

      I need this SO MUCH!!

    • Ne says...

      I need this SO MUCH!!

  76. clemmy says...

    When I was in high school, I was super self conscious and insecure and didn’t have fancy sports wear for gym class like some other kids. My mom was listening to me agonize over what I had to wear and finally told me that “life’s not a fashion show.” It helped me laugh and relax back then and it does the same thing to me today whenever I start stressing about what to wear!

  77. Pam says...

    At mealtime: “eat what you want, leave the rest, and don’t talk about it”

    And just like that, I now say it at dinnertime with my own kids.

  78. Janet Gardner says...

    When I was ten and my sister was seven, my single mom invented the concept of Yum Stuff. We were trying to make fudge but it didn’t set up, so she improvised and we made it into hot fudge. On the spot, she deemed it Yum Stuff: if a recipe’s got a bunch of delicious ingredients (butter, sugar, chocolate, cream, etc), no matter what form it takes, it’s still fabulous.

    She also taught me about thoughtful gift giving. All year, she’d take notes and keep track of things people casually mentioned that might make a nice gift when the holidays came around. Following her lead, ten-year-old me saved up my money to buy her a copy of Katharine Hepburn’s memoir, Me, which she’d mentioned she wanted. She was so surprised and touched that she cried when she opened it. Gifts are still one of my love languages to this day, though I’ve never been able to top that one for her!

  79. Ashley F. says...

    “It’s my way or the highway.”
    “What’s done in the dark will come to the light”
    “You can’t do better than your best, so do your best.”
    “Put an ‘ry’ n the end of that ‘can’t'” (the phrase then becomes I can try)
    I love you Mom!

  80. Emily says...

    Regarding life, my mom always told me “you can get through anything if you know it is temporary.” It applied to everything from surviving my college final exams, breakups, completing my masters degree while working full time, to even pain during childbirth! So true on so many levels!
    And regarding food for an event/party, she said “if you don’t have any leftovers, then you didn’t have enough food to start with!” :)

  81. Katie M says...

    My mum’s advice was always “never underestimate the power of a purposeful pause”
    She was teaching me to be comfortable with silence, and (a pet peeve of hers) not fill my speech with “verbal garbage”

  82. Cait says...

    ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ And always walk on the right. I can’t tell you how often I think, “their mother didn’t teach them that….” for either!

    • ME TOO!!! Every time I get on the subway! haha

  83. Kate says...

    On staying in a bad marriage because you are afraid “It is a mighty poor hen who can’t scratch for her own chicks”
    And of course “ Better to live in spite than pity”

  84. LC says...

    “Be yourself is best”

  85. In response to my stress/overwhelmed crying episodes (which were frequent in college), my mom would say, “You can’t think or see clearly with tears in your eyes,” and then she would tell me to walk away, do a good honest “ugly cry,” and come back with a clear mind and fresh eyes.

    To this day, it has worked every time.

  86. Claire says...

    along the same lines- there was a thread going on twitter recently that proposed that your mom was a presidential candidate in 2020, and asking what her campaign slogan would be.
    I had to stop reading it because it made me laugh so hard I was crying (while my husband was trying to go to sleep).
    One of my favorites was the mom candidate who didn’t have a slogan but instead mailed out newspaper clippings to every voter, without any note or other explanation about what the relevance of the article was.

    • Claire says...

      It’s good, isn’t it? I am always on the hunt for a good laugh. If you have a twitter account it’s worth checking out, because the entire thread is hilarious.

    • Erin says...

      HA! My father in law is the king of unexplained unexplained clippings. He often doesn’t clip – he just sends the entire paper or magazine without any indication of which article he wanted my husband to read.

      My favorite is “My job is to be your President, not your friend” (my mom) and “I don’t care who started it” (my dad), which are not only what I heard on repeat as a child, but actually work quite well!

  87. Paula says...

    My grandma the traveler would always say “always pack a swimsuit and a sweater when traveling”. We are from Colombia where weather changes from summer to spring in a 20 minute mountain drive.

    • Savanah says...

      I say this! Bathing suit, sweater, and book – ready for anything!!

    • Along the same note, my mom always said to pack you swimsuit in your carry on, if you are also checking a bag. If your bag gets lost, other things can wait, accept the beach or pool. Also, if you find a good suit, that you love and feel good in, buy two of them. :)

      Wrote about her advice here: http://www.heylibi.com/2018/04/04/recalling-sage-swimwear-advice-from-my-mom/

  88. Claire says...

    My mother’s signature advice:
    Many hands make light work.
    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    Men are like busses – if you miss one there will be another one along in a minute.
    Patience is a virtue.
    Words have power.
    I’m praying for you.

    • MM says...

      The many hands one is a favorite of my mother’s as well

    • Paula says...

      I love these! All of them! The men one made me spit up my coffee!

  89. Lucy says...

    My mom would yell, “There’s nothing worse than cold spaghetti!” when dinner was ready and my brother and I were taking too long to come downstairs to the table. I think about that all the time now when I’m yelling for my own kids when their meals are ready :)

  90. Kristin says...

    It’s just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor man. (So marry the rich man.) Hilarious advice coming from a total hippie, who married my (very poor) dad 2 weeks after meeting him when they were 21, and are still very, very happily married 50 years later. :)

    • Laura C. says...

      Aww Kristin!! That’s amazing!

  91. Malu says...

    “You will do great, I’m not worried.” This harkens back to one of the last posts about being a great listener, but it matters in this conversation.

    Unflinching faith in my abilities…thanks mom!

    btw. favorite post ever. I love this blog.

  92. EmilyR says...

    My college roommates and best friends still quote my 88-year old mother’s favorite sayings:
    “Never complain, and never explain.”
    “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

    I don’t always agree with the first one, but it has proven useful to many people in many, many different situations, and hearing that always makes me smile.

    • Sasha L says...

      “No is a complete sentence.”
      Damn. Smart moms out there. My favorite so far, and it’s pretty stiff competition!

  93. Lizzie says...

    Apparently my mom isn’t the only one who cooks for an army even when only a handful of people are coming for dinner! I used to tease her about it, but I admit I do enjoy taking leftovers home.

    • Elisabeth says...

      My mom is the same. She always puts a ton of food on the table and than she says midway through the meal: “You have to eat it all up! I hate leftovers!”

  94. Julia says...

    The Regret Function. I was RAISED on this concept: consider the worst case scenario resulting from an action. If you can’t accept that possible outcome, then the Regret Function is too high. We treated this question with deadly seriousness in my house, and it still plays into nearly all the decisions I make.

    • Lorna says...

      This is awesome. I am definitely teaching this concept to children.

  95. H says...

    Love these comments! My mom’s best advice: be cautious when complaining about your partner to family or friends. People will never forget the bad things you say about your partner. However, you rarely call them to discuss all the wonderful things your partner does. Thus, you give people a skewed opinion of your partner.

    • Cait says...

      I think about this too! Not from my mom, but I read a quote from someone’s mother where they were told at their wedding, ‘don’t tell me about your fights, because I will remember long after you’ve forgotten.’

  96. Kerry says...

    My mom to my sister and me as teenagers in the late 1980s:

    “Girls, don’t say ‘fricking,’ it’s another word for ‘fucking.'”

    We were momentarily stunned speechless. And then the three of us roared with laughter. Still do.

  97. Samantha says...

    Not the point of this post, but “everyone is just worried about themselves at parties” is exactly what i needed to hear today. Thanks Jo’s mom!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      It’s really true! :)

  98. elizabeth says...

    My mom used to quote her landlady:
    1. Never skrimp on a party.
    2. Don’t worry if people like you, just show that you like them
    3. You have the vernacular of a working girl…(if my mother said something the landlady found inappropriate).

    My mother’s gems were:
    1. You know, every woman I know who is successful is a good cook (thinly disguised suggestion)
    2. Usually, if you find someone annoying or offensive, so does everyone else. Just don’t you be the one to point it out.
    3. Stay away from large prints. Small prints are always more flattering.
    4. A truly popular person is nice to everyone.
    5. On passing a couple of transients who were smoking: “You know, if I were on a limited budget, I could do without the cigarettes.”
    6. “Cremate me, it’s cheaper.” (We didn’t).

    • elizabeth says...

      I meant “scrimp.” Long day…sigh!

    • Kristy Lin says...

      “2. Don’t worry if people like you, just show that you like them”
      “2. Usually, if you find someone annoying or offensive, so does everyone else. Just don’t you be the one to point it out.”

      So true!

  99. Ro says...

    Oh, and – “If [redacted] can learn to drive a stick shift, so can you.”

  100. Ro says...

    “Ugly people get married all the time.”

    • Adrienne says...

      OMG – hilarious. I laughed out loud. :)

    • Kristy Lin says...

      reminds me of what my boss said her grandma used to say “every toilet has a lid”

  101. Liz says...

    My grandmother –– red nails, big hair, a love of Judge Judy –– would always say, “soap is cheap.”

    Her family didn’t have very much, but her home, her kids, her clothes, were always tidy and loved.

  102. Kiana says...

    “Walk faster, this isn’t the Champs Elysee!”. Imagine hearing this at seven years old (and not getting geographical /cultural references) while pursuing the aisles of the supermarket.

    • Joy says...

      omg that is hilarious; like something Peg from “The Kids are Alright” would say!

  103. kai says...

    After catching me reading teen cosmo, she said, “I know it seems like everyone is making out or whatever in that magazine, but just so you know, there’s no “normal” time to do anything related to kissing or sex. Whenever feels right to you IS the right time. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise!” It really relieved a lot of the baggage for me around being a late bloomer sexually–I kept reminding myself, there IS no normal except the one that feels right to me. She drives me nuts, but such a gift!

  104. jeannie says...

    My mom used to say, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Neither she and I have ever met that goal! LOL. She also said to be kind to everyone.

  105. Christen says...

    My mother is the queen of wearing high heels at all times even if it doesn’t make sense, like her grandson’s football game on a Saturday morning for example . She always has her nails done, eyelash extensions, and a perfectly blown out mane. I have never in my 32 years heard her pass gas and growing up when my sister and I would pick on her about it she’d always say “angels don’t fart.” When I was little I thought she might be an actual angel. Despite all of her pageantry, she can renovate a home like a beast, acrylic nails and all. She’s truly fearless in every aspect of her life. She crawls under her house to exterminate her own opossums!! She rips up carpet and lays down hardwooods, she tiled her bathrooms and kitchen like a pro, she even built her own koi pond. She may never admit that she’s ever pooped in her entire life BUT she’s still a badass bitch and I love that about her.

    • Sasha L says...

      Christen, your mom, well, I’m speechless!!! Sounds like she should write a book too, with chapters on extermination, holding in farts, blow outs and tiling. Damn.

    • Paula says...

      holly smokes, I want to be like your mother.

  106. Wendy Taylor says...

    Regarding relationships.
    For the wrong person, you can’t do anything right but for the right person, you can’t do anything wrong.

    • Kim says...

      This is great advice!! It’s so true.

  107. omg this is hilarious. such a great example of the particular having universal appeal!

    My mom taught me the importance of dressing in “California layers” when you can go to school when it’s 50 degrees outside and it’s 85 by the time the last bell rings.

    Also, that no meal is complete without a little crunch to it (she was a corn-nut fanatic in the 90s and would always carry a packet of the con limon flavor in her purse).

    But my favorite, most “on-brand” story of my mother’s advice?
    I am a little girl of 3 or 4, preparing to leave for a friend’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, where the only thing that matters is, of course, the ball pit. I want to wear my favorite flowered dress, but I’m worried about modesty while partaking in the joys of the ball pit.

    Me: What if someone says, “I can see your Pound Puppies underwear!”?

    Mom: Just say, “Oh yeah? Woof woof!”

    • michaela says...

      I am DYING. This is perfect advice.

    • Tracey says...

      Woof woof! What a legend.

    • shade says...

      I LOVE this so much.

    • Elisabeth says...

      I’m laughing tears!

  108. Ashley says...

    As someone who overshares and leans on self-deprecating humor, my mother’s mantra for me has always been, “People only know about you what you tell them.”

  109. Hali says...

    “Don’t hope for anything in particular to happen, hope that the RIGHT thing happens.”

    “The truth will surface!”

    “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

    “Show up. Show up. Show up.”

    Awww, moms!

  110. Kate says...

    1. Life isn’t fair
    2. The ratio for making buttermilk with lemon and milk
    3. You don’t have to like everyone you meet, but you must be kind.
    As I get older I’ve learned that it turns out she has always been right about everything!

    • Erin says...

      “Life isn’t fair” was the closest thing my mother had to a mantra, and while it was not satiating in the moment, it is very true. I think growing up without that expectation was good in the long run.

      My father, a teacher, was a very strong advocate for #3, so it was a common theme also. Agree it’s a healthy perspective.

    • Maria says...

      While I agree with “life is not fair” my father in law used that when both my husband and his brother went to university and my husband and I worked summers and weekend to be able to pay for rent and food but my husband’s brother simply said “summer is for vacation” and let his parents pay his rent during summer. When pointing that out to his father he got this answer “life is not fair and you have to learn that now”

  111. Alec says...

    My mother’s gem was “If you are upset enough to do something about it, then DO it – I’m not interested in just hearing you complain.” I didn’t find it comforting at the time but now I appreciate it!

  112. Michelle says...

    On the first warm day of spring, enjoying the sun on our faces and looking forward to hot days of summer and BBQs, my mom will sigh loudly and say, “Yup, it’ll be over before you know it and then it’ll be cold and ugly again”. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    • Kelly says...

      haha every year on summer solstice my husband says, well, tmrw the days will start getting shorter again. such a buzzkill!

  113. Sarah says...

    My mom’s favorite thing to say is “just because something good happens to someone else, doesn’t mean something bad happens to you”. It is always true!

  114. Nikki says...

    You could be the best tasting vanilla in the world, but some people will just like chocolate.

  115. Allie says...

    My mom taught me that your energy is contagious – so bring the good vibes!