Mamma Mia!

“Part of the reason motherly advice bugs us as daughters is because our mothers are so powerful in our lives. They loom like giants. The reason mothers keep at it is because they’re so powerless. They cannot get you to do what is so obvious to them you should do.”

-Deborah Tannen

My mum was at my place recently. It was evening and I was at the end of a very long and arduous day. So I did what I tend to do and had a good old whine. And as I bitched and moaned, my dear Mum just looked at me, taking sips of her own wine, before declaring…

“For god’s sake. Put your shoulder’s back.”

It was a conversational killer. I did what I was told and rose in my seat, defiantly sticking my shoulders back.

“That’s better,” She said approvingly “Now what were you saying?”

I had forgotten what I was saying. I was too pre-occupied with the thought that here I was, at 43, still being told the same thing by my Mum as I did when I was 5.

Straight away the song by Billy Joel started playing in my head.

She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes.

How come Mum’s still wield so much power, even when you are a grown up?

Later that night after the Posture Police left, I took to twitter.

My mum just left, but not before telling me to put my shoulders back.

Responses came in thick and fast.

My mum told me my lipstick colour makes me look like I have a heart condition.

 Hubs grandma told me day after our wedding “You didn’t look as fat as you normally do.” err…thanks?

 Mum told me that I should never, ever go back to my hairdresser.

 My mother once told me that I should never wear white near my face. It washes me out. Apparently.

I was thrilled to know that I was not alone! It appeared that women everywhere were still being told to do by their mums. And a lot of times it has to do with appearance.

Now my mum is a stylish lady. A groovy gran, if you will. A woman who will only leave the house with a streak of lipstick in a screaming colour and big, big accessories. She stands up straight all of the time, never slumping. She keeps herself busy. She keeps herself tidy. She is pretty awesome.

But she does not keep her thoughts to herself.

(I inherited this from her)

I tend to believe that the reason constant motherly advice is so irritating is because you are at the mercy of someone else’s standards. Sure, I slump when I think I can get away with it. And I do not wear lipstick every day. I do not decant our tomato sauce from the bottle into a little jug every night to go on the table and sometimes people are excused from the meal before everyone has finished. (Although this is because my youngest takes at least an hour to eat a meal)

But I do insist on checking behind little ears to make sure that potatoes are not growing and I will insist you eat your carrots in case there is a blackout.

And I know I will always do as my mother tells me, even begrudgingly, until such time that I pry the tube of MAC Bright Fuscia Pink “Gal about Town” from her cold, dead hands.

Which will not be for ages as she claims she will bury us all. And I believe her.

What is the best/worst advice your Mother ever gave you? 

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  • My mother was an inveterate advice giver – and her reason for that was that as she’d lost her mother so young and not had her around, she wanted to make sure she gave me what she felt she’d missed… On one level that was fair enough, on another it drove me mad. Probably the worst advice she gave me, ever, was to ‘not get so angry’ about things…which led me to swallow down justifiable anger for years…until I learned for myself that being angry was fine. What you DO with the anger can be the issue. So we had that conversation, finally.
    But, having lost her almost fourteen years ago, I’d give almost anything to have her back again issuing constant advice.

  • Haha my mum is FULL of the advice giving – most of it is actually pretty damn good! Occasionally it’s a little bit old school for me. But she’s pretty cool – a snappy dresser too. It’s always her voice I hear in my head when I have to make big decisions. Imagine being that influential that you’re the voice in someone’s head – shaping their moral conscience! Crazy.

  • AppleIslandGirl

    My mother’s slightly less than helpful advice was “I have a lot more respect for prostitutes than those stupid girls who give it away”.
    I remain in therapy.

    • Sally Rose

      Love that Mum.

  • Jac

    I don’t think my mum has ever given me advice… she has only ever commented on Facebook photos to tell me she prefers my hair longer… I told her I would prefer if I looked like Elle Macpherson but my gene pool didn’t allow for that so I guess we are both disappointed!

  • Oh I could have written this… the shoulders back, lipstick and maybe a shorter haircut would be nice, less ‘scraggly’ xx

  • Bee

    I am the mother of a 23 year old know it all, just like I was. She can spot a non helpful comment from me almost before I have stopped saying it. I recognise this and do my best to can the criticism. She looks better than I ever did, takes more care with appearance, clothes etc. She is horribly judgmental about me, my KMart purchases, my mismatched house and boring old person ways. I figure it will be swings and roundabouts for her too when she had a smartarse daughter. Just as with my mother it is often better to shut up and bitch to my husband than get caught in a mother daughter problem I can’t win with my daughter or my mother. Maybe they feel the same.

    • Carla Moulds

      So ver so very true Bee!

  • Mermaid

    All the above plus lipstick also on top lip – work from each side outside in to cupid’s bow 😉

  • 2 minutes of a man’s pleasure – 9 months a woman’s pain…yeh she did / does not ever say joyful things. Thankfully I have long ignored her.

  • Sally Rose

    Some advice I heard from a mother(not mine) was” you’ll never hold a man if you use language like that”.

  • merilyn

    yes!!! and so it goes on from one generation to the next hun!
    I won’t tell my daughter to do anything when I stay with her next time, as I know it is detrimental! … not helpful! we all remain in therapy!!!
    much love m:)X

  • Nanette

    I’ll never forget a friend telling me her mother suggested a spray tan because “brown fat is more attractive than white fat”.