(This was taken during my five-, um, 11-, okay, 15-year "awkward phase" -- you can see she had her work cut out for her.)
I was reminded recently -- as I continue my snarky, sweaty slog through my 50s -- that I've done so without the guidance, advice or fair warning of my mother.
She was too busy; engaged in the parental heavy-lifting of delivering the three of us to adulthood, that it never occurred to her to share these pearls of wisdom.
So I'll do you all the favor; pulling back the curtain to expose all the hidden truths (in no particular order), of life in middle age.
1.) Invest in a good bra, and for God's sake, if you have anything over a D cup, don't jog. It is for that reason alone that I have to tell the girl at Nordstrom that I wear a 36 long.
2.) Carry an across-the-shoulder messenger bag and keep the weight below 35 pounds. Yes, you heard me. I have a divot in my shoulder and the posture of a Sherpa from carrying around the kitchen sink everyday for over 40 years.
Oh, and ladies -- after you stop menstruating, you can toss all the tampons. I'm giving you the all clear. I put them in my time capsule along with my Midol, my flat stomach, my perky tits and my happy-go-lucky disposition.
It's okay -- give up the fight.
3.) If someone says they're sorry -- forgive them. You may never talk to them again, or wish them well -- but the forgiveness will set you free.
4.) Make eye contact and remember people's names.
My trick? I repeat it back to them and use a rhyming game (in my head, not to their face).
Along those lines -- Listen without interrupting, ask people questions about themselves and always introduce yourself and anyone standing with you.
These are the Golden Rules of any dinner party, staff meeting, black tie event or ladies restroom line -- really, any social situation you may find yourself in.
5.) Use those dental-pick-thingies every night. I brush and floss like a maniac and yet I still manage to pull an entire steak dinner out from between my teeth with those things!
6.) Listen to advice but only from the smart people -- never the stupid ones. Pay attention. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.
7.) Word to the wise. You can forget about those mustache and chin hairs.
After 40, pubic hair will lose its genetic coding and start migrating around your body.
It will crawl up your stomach and onto the back of your legs if you let it. I tried to wrangle mine, to fill in my over-tweezed eyebrows (a '70s fad that went horribly wrong), but to no avail. I did find one on my arm last week. Consider yourselves warned.
8.) Men stay boys all their lives. This needs no explanation.
9.) Stay curious. About people, life and the planet. It will help you to appreciate and demystify every seemingly mundane thing that surrounds you.
10.) Beach hair only looks good on 23-year-old models named Tia. The same goes for a navel piercing. Trust me on this.
11.) This is a big one. A lie is someone's imagination working against them. Remember that.
12.) Always carry matches or a lighter. And lipstick. Always carry lipstick.
13.) You will never use calculus beyond college -- but good table manners, clean fingernails and comfortable shoes will carry you far in life.
14.) Carrying (and reading) an interesting book will be an amazingly effective airplane conversation starter -- and the perfect companion when dining alone.
15.) Be polite and try every food that is offered to you, (which means eat a bull testicle even if you're a vegetarian.) It will broaden your horizons in unimaginable ways and make you a sought after dinner guest.
16.) Self-tanner is a catastrophe-in-a-can waiting to happen. Make peace with your paleness. End of story.
17.) Know that your looks will fade and reconcile yourself with that. Your neck will waddle, the hair on your head will thin, and your breasts will sag. If you decide to take matters into your own hands, make sure your surgeon has a light touch.
You still want to look like you -- only rested.
19.) Pay attention to your feet. They will start to fight back after 50. All the years of squeezing them into severely pointed, one size too small, five-inch heels have made them...cranky.
Can you blame them?
20.) Take the effort to make a good first impression -- you may never get a second chance.
And last but not least -- reinvent. Don't rest on you laurels, don't question your intuition, and don't tell yourself you're too old, too fat, or too busy to reassess your situation and reinvent yourself.
Now pay this information forward and don't say I never gave you anything.