mommy dearest

leamomstephBecause my mother and sister (and LINUS!) are in town, in Austin, with me, here in LA for work… missing out but hopefully kicking ass here, I wanted to re-post an ode to Mama.

Ooh, and set your DVR’s people!

I’ll be talking motherhood and sexy talk on the Rachael Ray Show on Tuesday, Election Day! That’s Nov. 3. Click here to check the station and airtime in your city.

Things I learned from my mother:

1. When buying Halloween candy for the house, make sure it’s something you hate or you’ll eat it all and have to go buy more.
2. How to harmonize and sing with my eyes closed.
3. Beware of short men.
4. People with a real sense of style don’t wear black; anyone can wear black. Wearing color properly takes style. I rarely wear black.
5. Always wear socks to the gynecologist. You never know whose feet have been in those stirrups.
6. Communication is crucial to happiness.
7. Money buys freedom.
8. In times of pain, we do the most growing up.
9. Sometimes you have to suffer for beauty. No one said it was easy.
10. Never make fun of someone on the subway for picking their nose because they might follow you home and wipe it on you.
11. Be careful with the gloss. Sometimes it looks like you just ate a lamb chop.
12. When traveling, never dress like a ragamuffin. Always wear clean underwear and dress handsomely.
13. To pretend you like it even if it’s vile. You’ll find a way to return it.
14. Have a dress coat and shoes for all seasons.
15. The man should always love the woman a smidge more.
16. I’m short-waisted, which really means petite, even though I have long legs.
17. Don’t stick your arm out the window.
18. That kissing it really can make it better.
19. Don’t marry anyone who works for his family; they’ll control your life.
20. Enunciate.
21. One won’t kill you.
22. If they are nice to you, but rude to the waiter, ask for the check.
23. When my hair is too long, I look like a country western singer.
24. Don’t wear silver and gold together.
25. Never pick up a hitchhiker.
26. To look the other way when I give blood.
27. Always have your own money stored away someplace safe.
28. It’s okay to tell people to fcuk off.
29. To always say “thank you,” even if you don’t mean it.
30. Don’t remove your shoes on airplanes; your feet swell and you might be unable to put them back on.
31. Don’t make your mother cry on Mother’s Day.
32. Always begin by saying, “Well I got it on sale.”
33. That a Cadillac is a "Jew Canoe."
34. Never get floral wallpaper or anything too busy. “You’ll want to vomit.”
35. To despise the ballet and pretty much anything at Lincoln Center (can you say overkill?).
36. That the small ornaments belong at the top of the tree.
37. To be fearless.
38. Hot chocolate tastes better if you put it in the blender.
39. Don’t eat too much sushi or you’ll get stomach cancer.
40. That I’ll thank her one day for insisting I take tennis lessons.
41. Bite your lips and pinch your cheeks.
42. Scotch tape the area between your eyebrows before bed (you frown in your sleep which leads to wrinkles).
43. To shave or wax the hair on your toes, too.
44. How to wrap packages.
45. To roast marshmallows in the toaster oven when there’s no fireplace.
46. Welcome new neighbors with freshly baked brownies, even if your little sister picked her nose while she helped you make them.
47. That I have a vagina.
48. To pronounce the store Target, Tar-shey.
49. To say very dirty things in Spanish.
50. Not to underestimate a stool softener.
51. To iron my hair.
52. How to hover over public toilet bowls without touching anything.
53. Believe me, if it’s going well, he won’t be looking at your shoes.
54. To make an old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich.
55. To appreciate coffee and to take it medicinally for headaches.
56. If I’m running late with dinner, cook an onion and set the table, “It will appear as if you’ve been cooking all day.”
57. To move the crotch of a bathing suit to the side to pee instead of taking the whole thing off.
58. To flip through magazines backwards cause that’s where all the good stuff is.
59. To make Pad Thai, Egg rolls, Eggplant Parmigano, Roasted Peppers, Spanakopita, Rice Pudding, Lasagna, Meatballs, Custard, Gravy, Square Pizza, and mashed potatoes.
60. Never say “remember me?” to a person. If you have to ask, they didn’t.
61. To wear a girdle.
62. When baking, to always crack eggs into their own bowl incase they’re bloody.
63. To peek inside homes when children trick-or-treat.
64. To keep nuts in the freezer (to prevent rancidity), and your flour in the fridge (to prevent eggs from hatching).
65. To love The Beatles.
66. To devein shrimp.
67. It’s all in the presentation.
68. That Dr. Pepper tastes like prunes.
69. When you’re mature, you don’t put music on your outgoing message.
70. To eat like a truck driver.
71. To wipe from front to back.
72. Don’t over pluck your eyebrows.
73. Always have a black suit that fits.
74. How to use a vanilla bean pod.
75. What a jetty is.
76. Children shouldn’t ever wear black or be permitted to paint their nails red (Navy blue and pale pink were as close as I got).
77. Wear the most expensive accessories you can afford and you’ll always look put-together.
78. To despise Laura Ashley.
79. To appreciate high thread-count sheets.
80. To bait my own hook.
81. To use a wok.
82. Sesame seeds contain calcium.
83. Posture.
84. Don’t lick your knife.
85. To never wear fuchsia.
86. To ignore gossip.
87. How to skip a rock on the water.
88. To make the whistle sound with a blade of grass.
89. How to stick a polynose seed on my nose.
90. To do leg lifts.
91. Wearing white makes you feel clean.
92. To make Rice Krispie Treats in the microwave.
93. That I’m “An Autumn.”
94. Wood makes it taste better.
95. “Christos Anesti”, “Kali Nikta”, “Galaktobouriko” (the only Greek I know: Christ has risen, Goodnight, Type of dessert).
96. To Pronounce GYRO: YEE-ro.
97. To give a “kunachi” (When you goose someone).
98. Eat raw parsley for good breath.
99. Brush my tongue.
100. To make rag curls, pin curls, and banana curls.
101. To squeeze and feel the burn.
102. Green is my color.
103. To pluck hair out of my mole.
104. To drink my damn water.
105. How to stick a firefly on my forehead.
106. To always use fresh garlic.
107. To smell food to enhance the flavors I taste.
108. That I’m a terrible driver “The Worst!”
109. How to play “see-food.”
110. Have a glass of wine.
111. To appreciate chicken soup, magazines, extra blankets, chick flicks, and bedtime stories when I’m sick.
112. To love the holidays.
113. Passion.
114. How to be feminine: walk in heels, say excuse me (though I rarely do this), and personalize thank you notes.
115. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well, just get up and do it.
116. How to braid.
117. When navigating a nearly empty soup bowl, tilt it away from you and do the same with the spoon.
118. To honestly not give a shite what people think but to do what makes me happy.
119. There are kind selfless people in this world; I’m just not always one of them. She is.
120. “Always remember your mother.”

Click here to see what I learned from Daddy Dearest >>

A YEAR AGO: Pilots and Airplanes
2 YEARS AGO: Turner and Hooch
5 YEARS AGO: Now Hear This



  1. I think I love your mother.

    Mine taught me how to score a baseball game and the importance of a double play in the late innings.

    But blood in the egg is not kosher! :)

  2. i really like the posts about your mom & pops. as personal as your blog tends to be, it's very superficial. we only read about the small details of your life. posts like this really shine a light on who you are.

    ps- entry 56 is CRAZY HOT!!!

  3. Hey there!
    Ok, en route to work today (my daily commute like somekind of purgatory!) I read some of your posts in a newspaper (The Independent). I suppose i just wanted to say thanks, smiling in the morning is hard, smiling on a train full of people is incredibly hard, and smiling with British weather is unfathomably difficult. So there it is. Cheers for the happy!
    Keep it nice and the good work great.
    (The nomakeup and scarfhair pictures are lovely!)

  4. hi,
    I'm nathalie from Belgium, I read the article about you in our newspaper(Het nieuwsblad) and I wanted to take a look at your site.
    I think your mom is really nice.
    I'm very sorry if my english isn't very good…
    greetz nathalie

  5. Galaktoboureko…Yes, such a kick-ass sweet. And gyros too…I was thinking today-well,earlier this morning while starving to death with a buddy at home that at 2am there is no place to order some take-away in the UK…I thought no chance I'd be in Greece now and not be able to get some gyro from somewhere…The word just reminded me!

  6. Just saw an article about your blog in a local newspaper (in India). I think it's honest, provocative and very real. There's truth in whatever is in here.
    I especially found a resonance in what you've learnt from your mother, in what I've learnt from mine. Good stuff.

  7. just a Greek i am very proud for you.
    always be hapy and helthy .
    life is too sort
    we waiting you in motherland .
    realy where exacly from Greece is your mother?

  8. Steph, I remember when I used to keep an eye on you in the kiddie pool while your mom played tennis at the club. I just saw your Aunt Iris today and I asked how you were and what you were doing. I am so impressed!! You look gorgeous (just like your mom!), best of luck in all you do! I now have to sit down and read your whole site! Take care . . .

  9. Home run! Just discovered your site and I'm having a blast reading it. I'll never forget two things my mom told me.
    1. Before you get married, live on your own, pay your own bills, be independent, so if in the future you ever need to, you'll already know how.
    2. Before you buy that skirt, blouse, pair of shoes, ask yourself, "Do I have something at home this will go with?"

  10. My mum taught me many things when I was little; never to discriminate, help somebody who needs it but is too afraid to ask, how to tie my shoes, and yes, how to hover over a toilet bowl. Then when I was 12 she stopped talking. As a result, I learnt a lot more than I ever wanted to know about mental illness, I learnt how to cry silently, I learnt how to be the adult my father needs for conversation. I also learnt to appreciate the small things, and acknowledge how lucky I am; which I think you have a pretty good grasp of.

  11. Thanks so much for being out there i only heard about youre blogg today and after my visit am isspired.

  12. Why beware short men? I am a short men so I am kinda dangerous, stupid or what is it? You some how define boxes in your head and put people inside them according to what they happen to be not even because they choose it. Do you think that is wise?

  13. Ahmet- I clicked through to the comments just cause I KNEW there would be a short man saying hey…WTH? The reason to beware of them is because if you are a woman and taller than a man, they don’t treat you well. Plus short men tend to be more mean and critical of others. Not saying that all of them are, there are definitely exceptions but overall it stays true.

    I think the difference sometimes is if the man is from a culture of short men, this stereotype is not as true but in the US short boys are picked on way more often and bullied way more often so thus you tend to get a very firm chip on your shoulder that lasts through adulthood. A few years ago after a few awful experiences I made my rule “never work for short men.”

  14. I think we need to appreciate our mothers on days other than Mother’s Day. Thank you.

  15. I can’t believe you are in L.A. and Linus in Austin! I’ve been a fan for years and feel like i’ve practically grown up with Linus. Is he getting along with Bikini?

  16. Funny you posted this. I have printed out all of your “lists” and read them as affirmations frequently. Thank you for your thoughtful writing.

  17. As Randy Newman said “Short people got no reason…”

    Smooches from Indiana

  18. I’d love to read a list like this from a Mother to her daughter. Things a mother learned from her daughter. I’ll start-

    1- It is never personal. We act out because of our own insecurities not because of anything you have done.

  19. I LOVE your lists! It is why I keep coming back. What’s your next book going to delve into?

  20. What a beautiful photo. When reading your books I always got a sense that the bond between the women in your family were strong although you speak honestly about abuse, self esteem, being mean. Amazing writer you are. When you called your mother dumb in MOOSE I was in shock. I felt your insecurities. That is what makes a good writer.

  21. Love it! Made me think of my Nana and cry. Then I read all of the other comments, read your husbands and cried some more.

  22. “115. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well, just get up and do it.”

    I love this. So true, and most of us don’t realize it until long after we should.

  23. I LOVE this photo. It makes me want to take a similar pic with my 2 kids and one is 22 months and the other still in utero! haha. What gorgeous women. And your mom- what is her secret? She looks fantastic. Like a total ‘movie mom’:)

    And this list was so neat I think if i inspired my children to not only remember what i said but write it down.. what a cool legacy. It would be a sign i did something right. I agree with most of these things but blow off girdles (prob shouldn’t) and EW! Eggs hatch in flour? We never have room in the frige but I keep it in the cabinet in air tight containers. Oh no! EGGS HATCHING?!? Now I have a new phobia..thanks! lol

  24. fyi stephanie: love the photo of you three here and, by the way, you have great lips!

  25. #101, cracks me up! I remember my mom and aunt working out to the Jane Fonda videos in the 80’s. The key phrase I remember Jane always saying…”Feeeeel the burrrrn.” I may not have known what that meant at the time but I sure as hell looked cool trying in my leotard and leg warmers!

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