My finish this sentence post ought to have been, "Growing up, the advice I hated most from my mother was…"
But even I wouldn’t know how to finish the sentence. Mom didn’t give big advice. I never got heady wisdom from her that made me think of life differently. No comforting "this too shall pass" or strong "Nothing is taken from you that you cannot learn to live without." I got practical words about buying Halloween candy I hated, so I wouldn’t eat any. Sadly, though, despite hating coconut, I’d manage to ferret out the almonds of a miniature Almond Joy. I’d try to convince my mouth that it really didn’t mind the stringy coconut bits that stuck in my molars like chicken. But I couldn’t convince myself; I’d toss the rest out. She was right. It was good advice. I wish I got more of it. Advice that wasn’t cliche, but instead, dead on and unexpected.
Advice is different than teaching practical things like putting peanut butter on both slices of bread before adding the jelly, to avoid a soggy sandwich. Advice is what we cling to so our lives and outlooks can improve, so we can get through things with grace. It’s not about putting a slice of bread in with your brown sugar to keep it soft, about eating parsley for good breath. This is the advice I got from Mom. Recipe tips for life. I still don’t get advice about setting limits, that they make children feel safe. She never set any. Too many mothers treat their daughters as friends instead of as their daughters. They want to be liked. I don’t want to be that kind of mother. I’m looking forward to the day she screams, "I hate you!" I’ll know I’m doing a good job.
Good advice: "Send thank you notes, and never send store-bought sympathy cards."