Here at GeekMom, we don’t just write about family. We often feel like a big family. There have been many moments where we have shared advice amongst ourselves and then realizing this is exactly the type of wisdom we need to share with our broader family: our readers.
When I heard one of our esteemed GeekMom writers and editors, Jenny Bristol, had authored a book with her own mom-wisdom, I jumped at the chance to read it and subsequently review it. For me, it is a collection of Jenny’s quintessential pragmatism with a touch of geek-whimsical we know and love.
Wisdom From Mom: Advice for Living
Jenny’s book is a sweet and very handy collection of wisdom and pragmatic logic. The kind of stuff you either mostly know or should know… and it’s really handy to have it in tangible form when you just need to be reminded.
When I moved out of home, my mom gave me a copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Home Hints. In the beginning, it was an amazing guide of practical tips and know-how to make my independent journey a little more survivable. 20-years later the book retains its honored place on my reference shelf, however, it is more a source of reassurance than guidance. By now, I know most of the stuff in it but it is still nice to have it around when I question myself.
Jenny’s book, Wisdom from Mom, is a lot like that but in the emotional and psychological manner. And it equally deserves its place on the shelf, right next to the Home Hints.
Like a Chat over a Cup of Tea or Coffee
After reading Wisdom from Mom, I found myself remembering many pearls of wisdom from my own family. Some related to the offerings in this book; some were perhaps unique to my family and heritage but still came from the same place of love. So then I started thinking about where these ‘pearls of wisdom’ come from. And who better to talk to than the author herself, Jenny Bristol.
Evil Genius Mum: The book reads as a volume of proverbs and insights, the kind you hear over a cup of tea or coffee. How did your mom impart this wisdom to you?
Jenny: For the portion of the advice that came from my mom, it was mostly just shared during normal conversation. We’d almost always have dinner together as a family (me, Mom, my sister) after school/work, and we’d talk about things. We always talked about things as I was growing up. She always knew most of what was going on with me, since I used to do what she called a “core dump” when she got home from work, with me telling her everything about my day. She knew she couldn’t really settle into doing much until I’d done that—though sometimes I did it while she was cooking dinner—but it was also a great opportunity for her to respond and give advice. She gave other pieces of advice when they were relevant in the moment, such as relationship and parenting advice. Though much of her advice, especially the parenting bits, were shared through her own actions. I just paid attention to how she interacted with us and parented us, and then put them into words.
Evil Genius Mum: Has your mom read the book? What did she think?
Jenny: Yes, she has read most of it so far. Here’s what she reported back: 1. She agrees with the things that I say, and 2. She can hear herself saying some of the things to me. She really likes the book and thinks it’s a great resource for teens and new parents, along with just about anyone who has lost their way in life and needs a new direction.
Evil Genius Mum: How have your kids reacted to the book?
Jenny: My son, who is 14, hasn’t read it yet. I’m going to keep encouraging him to do so. My 17-year-old daughter, though, has read about half of it. She seems to like it. But she says she already knows most of it because I’ve already given her most of the advice before. I guess I’m a bit of a broken record? (And someone who makes outdated references?)
Evil Genius Mum: What is the most memorable experience you can recall where you said to yourself, “Damn. I wish someone had told me that”?
Jenny: I wish someone had told me not to cut my hair short when I was little and we moved to Tucson, Arizona, where it’s hot (we came from Wisconsin). I was eight and I thought it would be too hot for long hair. But cutting my hair short caused a decade or two of doing battle with it, not being able to grow it out properly ever again (curly hair is weird). I used this experience to recommend to my daughter that she not cut her hair much when she was younger and it was bothering her. It was her choice in the end, of course, but I shared my experience with her. (Her hair is very curly, though a bit less than mine.) She didn’t end up ever cutting it more than just a trim, and she has thanked me for encouraging her to keep it long. Now she has a gorgeous head of hair to do things with.
(Side-note: I wish someone had told ME this. I have wavy/frizzy hair and spent my summers in the most humid section of Australia. Cutting my hair was a bad idea.)
Evil Genius Mum: If you could have one of these ‘tips’ painted on a feature wall in your home, which would it be?
Jenny: Well, I could look at this a couple of different ways. If I put one on my wall that I think is the most important, it would probably be “Consider ‘Future You’ in all your choices”. It’s a general piece of advice that’s just as relevant to eating healthy food as it is to choosing what career path to take. But I don’t have too much trouble remembering this particular piece of advice.
If I choose a piece of advice that I need to remind myself of most often, it would probably be “Give new endeavors the time, energy, and focus they deserve”, since I often jump around too much. Or maybe “Use your things while you still love them” because I save too many things for “someday”. Or maybe “Learn to say no”, since I don’t like to let people down, but need to learn that it’s not my job to take care of everyone.
Wisdom from Mom: Advice for Living is the manual I need on my shelf. And yes, while I am now at the stage in my life when I should be familiar with most of the tips shared, it is really comforting to see them in print and know I’m not a complete hot-mess-mom afterall.