Nancy Roman

Beyond Clean Underwear – Advice from Mom

My mother’s advice extended far beyond bus-proofing my unmentionables. 

My mother’s advice was wise, witty, and right.

The first advice I remember her offering – (there were lots of  “don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been; You’ll put an eye out; Your face will stick that way” warnings) – but this was the first grown-up advice, and it’s a subject dear to my superficial heart:

“Never go to the hairdresser looking like a slob.  Always dress up and do your makeup.  If you look like you don’t care about your appearance, the hairdresser won’t either.”

Very sensible.

Here are my favorites bits of Mom’s wisdom:

DATING.   Mom’s dating advice served me well for many years.  Of course it prevented me from marrying for many years too – but that turned out to be a good thing:

“Never play dumb to attract a boy.  If he’s intimidated by your brains, you wouldn’t want him anyway.”


“Only date generous boys.  If he’s cheap when he’s trying to impress you, just think how cheap he’ll be after you’re married.”

MARRIAGE.  On the subject of marriage, there was lots of good advice:

“Never marry a doctor.” (This from my mother, the nurse)  “They need to exude confidence to reassure their patients, but it spills over into their private lives.  They think they know everything.”

“But on the other hand, if you insist on marrying a doctor, go for a dermatologist.  They have very steady incomes.  Their patients never die, but they never get better either.”

“Never disagree with your husband in public.  There will be plenty of time later to tell him how wrong he was.”

and its corollary:

“Never let your kids pit you against your husband.  Mom and Dad have to present a united front.  It’s a matter of US versus THEM — and YOU (meaning us kids) are THEM.”

“”Don’t crowd your husband.  Let him go out and have fun.  He’ll come home happy. You do the same.”

LIFE.  When it came to my personal development, Mom was practical and aspirational at the same time:

“Learn how to cook one thing really well.   Serve it when you have company.  You’ll look good.”

“Don’t try so hard to be like your sisters.  We had you because we wanted something different.”

“You can do anything,  You won’t be good at everything, but you can do everything.”

“Learn how to work sick.  Life goes on no matter how you feel.”

“If you have to choose between getting a chore done and having fun, pick the fun.  Years later, you won’t remember how many chores were done late, just how much fun you had.”

“Be as creative as you want, but also develop a skill to fall back on.  I’ve never seen a want-ad for a poet.”

Good advice, right?  Take it from a novelist/accountant who’s married to a generous non-physician.  And I still get dolled up for a haircut. So does Mom.

Mom at 87


  1. pharphelonus

    All hail the wisdom of truly wise moms.
    Mine knew people like nobody’s business, and had a sense of good or not so good almost on meeting them. Sounds judgmental and superficial, but she was always right. I inherited that, too.
    Not that I’m never wrong, but my instinct rocks. LOL


  2. What an amazing, wise mom you have! She deserves a big hug. It sounds like she had only the most important thing in her life on her mind ~~ YOU. What a lady!


    • I actually think I was not the most important thing in her life…nor were my sisters or my brother.. My father was most important in her life, and she made us all feel that that was the way it was supposed to be. I think we learned what a happy marriage was through her example…and all of her children have happy marriages too. And happy marriages make happy children.


  3. I love the one about not trying to be like your sisters. That is a wonderful quote!


  4. Then what a priceless gift she gave each of you!


  5. bigsheepcommunications

    My mom was never big on giving us advice, but I might have to borrow a few of your mom’s gems to pass along to my own daughter!


  6. I LOVE your blog!!!
    Libby Lu


  7. My Mom always changed out of her “housedress” into a nicer dress in the evenings. She wanted to look nice “case anyone dropped in”. She was wonderful! Sounds like your Mom is wonderful too.


    • Your mom sounds great! I love that she would change “just in case.”


  8. Your Mom sounds lovely! And full of lots of wisdom and good advice, too. Mine certainly gave me the advice about the underwear, but most of the rest was based upon “what will the neighbors think?!”


    • Imagining what the neighbors will think of you is the quickest way to straighten up your act. Good for your mother!


  9. Your mom was a smart woman with a sense of humour. Love reading your blog.


  10. “If you have to choose between getting a chore done and having fun, pick the fun. Years later, you won’t remember how many chores were done late, just how much fun you had.” – Love that advice. I need to follow it more often. What a wise and lovely mom you have!


    • She’s the best! And she would drop the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the room if a friend called and said, “Let’s take the kids to the park.”


  11. No, it’s great advice. I just subscribed.


  12. Margie

    I think you could do an entire blog about the good advice your mom gave you!


  13. Probably about 80% of the advice sound like my mom’s. She told me that once men get married their faults and annoying habits triple at least.
    Great sense of humor!


  14. Is it too late to be adopted?


  15. My mom was a nurse also, but I don’t have pearls of wisdom like these. I’d like to read these to my daughters and my husband. Your mom sounds like a real gem. twinkly


    • She is a gem! Just last week, right after the hurricane, the first person she called was her hairdresser…to make sure her appointment was still on!


  16. What a wise and brilliant woman. This post is worth printing and passing on to my daughter! (a keeper)



  1. The Smartest Person « notquiteold

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