Carry Weapons of Minimal Destruction and Other Motherly Advice


When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality.  It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no.

You’re going to get it anyway.

― Erma Bombeck


Growing up I got great advice from my mom.  I’m sure of it.

However at the moment, all I can think about is the time she told me to always carry a hat pin when riding a city bus.  You know, in case of unsavory strangers deciding to get a little too close.

It was advice she dispensed for my safety.  You see once I hit the 7th grade, I liked to go to the mall.  A lot.  I didn’t ride a bus there and I’d never owned a hat pin, but maybe my mom was worried about me going without her.  So she offered up a quick tidbit from the stores of her own immigrant mother’s wisdom stash.  The hat pin was a reflex.

hat pin weapons of destruction_opt

 Hat pins, weapons of minimal destruction.


She quickly amended the advice to this:

Stay away from strangers a.k.a. unsavory sorts.  If need be, act a little crazy to encourage them to stay away.

Or at least that’s how I remember it.  The mistakes in this advice are all mine, but you get the gist–she wanted me to be safe.

Because that’s what moms do.

They advise you:

 “Do not eat chips out of a communal bowl.  You might as well stick your hand in a toilet.”

~Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls


They love you:

buffy vampire slayer joyce summers

“I know you’re afraid. I know the world feels like a hard place, sometimes. But you’ve got people who love you. Your dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We’ll always be with you. You have got a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself.”

~Mrs. Summers to Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 They teach you (and maybe humble you):

dorothy and sophia petrillo

 “Jealousy is a very ugly thing, Dorothy. And so are you, in anything backless.”

~Sophia Petrillo, Golden Girls


And okay sometimes they confuse you:

mom daughter Portokalos advice

“Don’t play with the food! When I was your age, we didn’t have food!”

~Maria Portokalas, My Big Fat Greek Wedding


But it’s wisdom from a (longer) life lived.  And it’s meant to be a good thing.

Because they want you to be happy.

Oh and that reminds me of another pearl to share.  Here’s the first stanza of the song my mom used to sing to pull a smile out of us when we were having the mopes:

Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms) 

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones,
Eensie weensy squeensy ones,
See how they wiggle and squirm!

 mom me bridget dan_opt

Happy Mother’s Day!

What is your favorite bit of motherly wisdom?

63 thoughts on “Carry Weapons of Minimal Destruction and Other Motherly Advice

  1. Aside from “Put a sweater on, I’m cold” or “Eat something, I’m hungry”? 🙂 My mom told me to keep a journal – I wish I’d listened to her sooner. And my grandmother told me to always make sure I have a moment in the day to dream.


  2. My mother always said: It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I think that was the only way she could be positive, if there was violence involved. I try to make my own advice and sayings and stay away from the poking. Fun post!


  3. Great post Coleen!! I can hear your mom about the hatpin, even louder, I can hear Grandma Mulligan saying it. Love the picture of Mom & you guys


  4. When my first child was born, my mom told me to welcome him into my world. Yes, I know she told me lots of other things before this, but this was the first piece of advice that came to mind when I read your question. And what she said profoundly affected me as a mom.


  5. Shortly after my engagement in my native New Jersey, my mother warned me to turn my ring around so the stone rested palmside whenever I was in NYC but especially when riding the subway. (Apparently, NJ was safe but NYC represented danger.) The first time I bought tokens and held my palm out for change, I saw the pointlessness of the strategy.


  6. Beautiful tribute to your mother. Love the photo of you with her. My mother has made her transition, and nothing jumps out at me, other than always wear clean uderwear as you never know what might happen — but it was more fear-based from her mother I grew up in the 50s-60s and was given a lot of trust and freedom. I rode city buses with my younger brother and sister tagging a long to go shopping downtown, followed by a walk to my father’s office to get a ride home. Times have changed. Perhaps that’s why I gravitated to mentors who were “wise women” in my adult life who filled me inspiration and wisdom.


  7. I love it! Especially the Golden Girls quote, LoL! I’m so thankful to have a mother that was not shy about giving advice! Of course, I didn’t always like it when I was getting it now, but at least she taught me how to have opinions and to stick to what you believe, even if it wasn’t the same thing as she.


  8. Brilliant post, Coleen! I love all those quotes especially the top one. It reminds me of mum asking if we want more potatoes and before we’ve even answered No! she’s putting them on our plates.


  9. My mom advised me to follow my heart, train guys how to treat me (ha!) and to distract myself when I feel impatient. Like your mom, she’s a wealth of wisdom! Off to find me a hat pin… LOL


  10. Great post with great advise! I may actually have a hat pin around here somewhere. Love the song. I may actually sing that for the kids. I know I’ll get some giggles. 😀


    1. When I googled the lyrics I saw that one site said to sing it to the tune of polly wolly doodle all the day, but I don’t think that’s the tune my mom used. 🙂
      But your right the song will definitely get some laughs.


  11. Love the post and all the comments!

    My mom always told us, ‘It’s not what you say, but how you say it.’ It took me years to understand what she meant, but now that I do, I employ her advice as often as possible. You truly can say something terrible to someone and make it sound like a compliment (my sister is a whiz at this), or you can say something so tender and sweet that comforts someone without making it sound trite.

    The advice I give my kids is to take risks, make mistakes, and get messy. I follow that up with, and learn from your mistakes! I had to amend it when my daughter became a teenager.

    Being a mom is the coolest thing in the world. I love the pic of your mom and by the way, mine sang that song to us, too! Usually followed by, ‘The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play penuckle on your snout!’. Ew.


    1. My mom used to sing the worms crawl in song too! I almost mentioned it, but thought other people might not find it as funny as I used to 🙂
      I like your advice for your kids Tameri. It’s hard to let them make mistakes, but sometimes it’s the only way they learn.


  12. I am a psychologist and a writer. My mother did not have a degree in either of those fields but I learned more about psychology and writing at her knee than I ever did in any classroom. Unfortunately the only specific pieces of advice that come to mind right now are the few times that she was wrong. Like, “Don’t marry a man you think you can live with, marry the man you can’t live without.” Yikes, Ma, I never want to be that dependent on a man! (I married the one I could live with and we’re still together 36 years later, although there are days when I want to smother him in his sleep 😉

    She also sang the worm song, but it was with a rather snide tone, as if to say, Stop feeling sorry for yourself!

    As a mother of a grown child, I gotta tell you that one of the best moments of my life was when my son said to me, when his son was three months old, “Boy, this parenting stuff is hard. How’d you ever put up with me, Ma?”

    Great post, Coleen!


    1. Something my mom said quite often was–just you wait until you’re a mother. 🙂 And she was right, it’s not easy and I even say a version of that to my own kids now.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Kassandra!


  13. My mother always told me I needed to put on lipstick. I usually have 4 or 5 tubes in my purse even now, and still don’t manage to put it on but once a day. I have a son, so that particularly piece of advice won’t be passed along, but my husband always tells my son to “put a coat on, your mother is cold.”


  14. Gotta love moms and their screwball advice sometimes. A hat pin? My how the fashion times have changed.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  15. Ha ha!

    That was a girl guide song!

    Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms,
    Big fat juicy ones, wee squiggly, wiggly ones,
    See how they wriggle and squirm.
    First you …suck out the blood …. chew on the guts,
    And throw the rest awaaaaaayyyyy!
    Nobody likes me, everybody hates me and I eat worms every day.

    Another one was:

    Do your ears hang low,
    Do they waggle to and fro,
    Can you tie them in a knot?
    Can you tie them in a bow?
    Can you throw them over your shoulder
    Like a regimental soldier,
    Do your ears hang low.

    Okay, that’s enough now. Got tons more from the Brownies, now they were a blood thirsty little bunch!

    Great post!


  16. I love this post, Coleen! Humorous and heartwarming. I love the song your mom sang to make you smile! I guess it’s part of being a mother, to offer advice to keep our kids safe. I signed my girls up for karate lessons, and I took them, too. Then I bought each of them a key baton, small baton that fits on your key chain but is a weapon. Think of a small version of the batons cops carry. It might be small but can break bones, knock someone out. No minimal destruction and our karate instructor taught us that kids under 16 shouldn’t carry them. They’re not responsible enough to use good judgment in using them. I have to say that hat pins are pretty good weapons, too. Stick ’em in the right place and they cause more than minimal destruction!


    1. Oh I never thought about placement of the hat pin Lynn–ha ha!
      I’d never heard of a key baton–my daughter has key mace, but that too wasn’t easy to get due to local laws. Hat pins might make a comeback!


  17. My granny used to say “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”.
    She used to shame us by asking for discounts when we were out shopping. And what do I do now that I am all growed up and beyond embarassment?….ask for discounts of course!!


  18. Cute pics! My mom’s were mostly the old standards: Don’t run with scissors, if you can’t say something nice the don’t say anything at all, and so on. Oh, and if you go out at night, park beneath a light, and don’t park beside vans! (I’m picturing Kristen Lamb’s “Candy” van right now, LOL!) That one’s also good from the standpoint that van doors now open out, and those vans are likely to be full of little kids who’ll give me door dings. 🙂


    1. If you can’t say something nice was a big one in my house too–and still is! Plus I also have a thing about not parking near vans, but I think I got that from a movie!


  19. hahaha some great mother-daughter moments up there. Seeing all the screen captures makes me realize what a great job they did with casting and costume/hair to make them really seem related.

    I will not be sharing the crap that my Chinese mom taught me. It would traumatize your readers. Except maybe that you’re supposed to haggle EVERYWHERE.


  20. Loved the quotes and advice. I’ve been trying to think of motherly advice. My mom tends to dispense advice in the form of a question. I hope you have a Happy Mother’s Day!


  21. What a wonderful post and I love the family picture at the end! My Mom has all sorts of advice. She told us to always look in the backseat before getting into our cars alone, in case a crazy man was hiding there. Well, it happened to one of her friends so I guess it was good advice. So to this day I still glance in the backseat as I’m getting into my car alone:) Most of her advice centered around safety, but after I had children a lot of it centered on how to take care of myself. Moms, we are always worrying!


    1. I say the same thing about the backseat too! I think I read an article or saw on something on TV once about a woman being chased by a truck, but turned out he was following her to tell her there was someone hiding in her backseat!


  22. Thank you for making me smile today. I needed it!

    The only pieces of advice I can remember from my mom when I was little was “If you’re going to play ping pong on the dining room table, at least move the table away from the windows.” Yeah…my house was interesting growing up 🙂 But it allowed creativity to flourish.


  23. OH man! This post is priceless. I’m totally in love with it. You had me from the first quote. Ah… my mom still does this, and I wonder if she realizes it. She’s getting more creative with her advice, but whether I want it or not… she’s going to give it to me one way or another. I just remember her telling me, “I hope you get a kid like you one day!” Oh yeah – I did! x’s 2!


  24. I remember the endless cliches…”If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!” And, my favorite: Me: “I’m BORED!” Mom: “Only boring people are bored!” I actually have repeated that one to my son…*sigh*
    Love the hatpin one!


  25. Oh, dear. My mom had words of wisdom, but none of it was the heart-felt kind of advice like the other commenters have posted. Instead, my parents were straight from NYC and moved us to the middle of nowhere Wisconsin and they couldn’t get past the culture shock. My mom, bless her heart, instilled the fear of strangers (especially boys) in me at a very early age. She was the Queen of using fear tactics to get me to behave!


    1. Even though my mom was big on safety–I am actually worse with my kids. When they first got old enough to be able to stay at home alone, I wouldn’t let them eat while I was gone (for fear of choking alone, ugh) I was a little crazy on the fear thing,


  26. Oh my goodness, I loved this, Coleen! The only thing I can remember off the top of my head is “Don’t call boys.” My mother was adamant that we not take the first step and be too aggressive. It’s not bad advice actually. Indeed, my husband made the first move, and we’re at 19 years. Thanks for the great post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s