I am, for the record, obsessed with my mother. But it wasn’t until recently that I actually started taking her advice. For years she extolled the virtues of eating healthy, but I decided to relish the freedom of my twenties by eating takeout. She always told me to stop seeing men who didn’t treat me well, but she was still my first phone call when I didn’t listen and my heart got broken anyway. She tried to teach me to knit, to play piano, to cook delicious and elaborate meals—all skills I now, of course, wish I possessed, especially as I sit down to eat another another sad plate of bland chicken and broccoli.
I realize now it takes a particularly prescient child to heed the advice of their mother, and, especially in my teens, prescient I was not. Which is why my life is now riddled with examples of when I should have listened to her. Below, five things she was right about.
The Jumpsuit I Never Should Have Bought
I realize that women of my size—all six feet of me—must have existed years ago. And yet, when I go vintage shopping, it seems next to impossible to find clothing that will stretch to fit my frame. Vintage mom jeans? Forget about it, unless I intend on chafing. Vintage high-waist midi skirts? Sure, if by “midi” you mean a skirt that falls mid-thigh. Needless to say, when I do in fact find a vintage diamond in the rough, I cling to it for dear life.
This was the case last summer, when I found and bought what I believed to be the perfect jade polyester jumpsuit, and brought it to my cousin’s wedding. As I gave it a twirl in the hotel where we were staying, I could tell by the way my mother was eyeing me that she didn’t quite think it fit. “Would you want to wear something more…comfortable?” she asked me. As tends to happen, her innocuous comment threw me into a rage. It’s possible, in fact, that I accused her of “body shaming.” Indignant, I stalked my way to the car, fully prepared to wear my jumpsuit to the wedding. As soon as I climbed into the passenger seat, my beloved jumpsuit ripped up the ass. It was only then that I conceded: Perhaps she was right.
My mother has always been on the cutting edge of new beauty, at least by the standards of Boise, Idaho, where I grew up. But her sojourns into the land of experimental beauty haven’t been without their pitfalls; there was the time, for example, that she got eyeliner tattooed on her eyelids. So I was understandably hesitant when she explained to me that she was going to also get her eyebrows tattooed. “It’s called mircoblading,” she told me, and I scoffed the scoff of an ignorant girl. I came home soon after my mother’s two sessions and was taken aback by her glorious eyebrows. “They look so real!” I mused, calculating how I, too, could one day afford to look like Cara Delevingne eyes-up. Two years later, I have my mother to thank for the gloriously fake eyebrows that sit on my face. I love them so much that I wasn’t even self-conscious when an ex boyfriend referred to me as “Groucho Marx” for the rest of our failing relationship.
Going to the Podiatrist
Growing up, corns were a constant worry for my mother. I remember Dr. Scholl’s Corn Pads wrappers in the trash and padded shoe inserts in every pair of heels and sneakers. I also thought they were disgusting. I was rude about my mother’s corns, squeamish around her bare feet, and so it can only be karma that I now am also the possessor of a corn—one that refuses to go away on my left pinky toe. Marathons, I have learned, do not help this. I tried to Google what corns are, but all I can gather is that they are something like a callus, only more painful.
When I called to yell at my mother about the corn I genetically inherited from her, she told me a quick trip to the podiatrist would fix everything, which I proceeded to put off for weeks. But eventually, begrudgingly, I made the appointment. Within five minutes the podiatrist lopped off my corn and sent me on my merry way, but not before asking for my money and reminding me that corns grow back, and that I’d need to come back every six months. I was aghast. On my way home, I came up with a brilliant plan: I’d simply order my own scalpel and take matters into my own hands, no co-pay required. When I proudly told my mother about this, she begged me not to do it. I ignored this advice. Instead, I practiced being my own surgeon on my bedroom floor when my scalpel arrived the next day. There was blood. There was pain. There was the realization, once again, that I should have listened to my mother.
Not Getting Bangs
This piece of advice is a classic that my mother and I like to revisit on a yearly basis. Something will happen that will convince me I need bangs (rejection from a boy, a binge session featuring Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll), and I’ll start talking about it getting them again, despite hating them last time.
My mom, always wanting what is best for me, reminds me of my previous bang endeavors. Like the time I had my coworker Lauren cut my bangs for me in the middle of the office because the urge was just that strong. (Also, remember “baby bangs?” Unfortunately, so do I.) I always try to convince my mother that, this time, things will be different. “Bangs are back!” I’ll cry to her, knowing she’ll never listen. So I’ll get bangs, then I’ll call her crying, and she’ll still console me without uttering that dreaded phrase, “I told you so.”
It’ll Never Be This Bad Again
When something goes wrong, which happens frequently, my mother is always my first call. I give her all the credit in the world for resisting what I can only assume is a strong urge to screen my calls. She picks up almost every time, even if she knows I’m on my way back from the hair salon (again). And every time I call her crying, or angry, or disappointed, she’ll remind me that it will never be quite this bad again. And that as bad as I feel in this moment, I’ll feel better about it tomorrow, or after a nap, or after a meal. And though I seem to forget this essential advice on a daily basis, I’m starting to learn it is always, always true. And, of course, that my mother is always, always right.