How Nice New York Irish Catholic Mothers Teach You About the Birds & Bees

At age nine: “Don’t ever get in a van. Steve Gardner’s daughter got in a van and it took her all the way to California. Now she’s on drugs and panhandling in Golden Gate Park. Living right out in the open.”

At age ten: “Here’s a training bra. Don’t wear it to bed or you’ll get a rash.”

At age eleven: “You’re gonna get your period soon. I’ll get you a book.” [NB: I love you, Ma, but I never did get that book.]

At age twelve: “Well, what did Sister Beatrice tell you in sex ed class? Listen to her.”

At age thirteen: “You can wear makeup. Only pastels. I’m having the Mary Kay lady come over.”

At age eighteen: “Listen, I meant to tell you this before you left for school, but I was a virgin when I married your father. He wasn’t a virgin. He went under the boardwalk with Roberta Something-or-Other. She looked like Ronnie Spector with that ratty hair. And red fingernails. But, listen. Anyway. I was a virgin when I married your father.”

At age twenty: “Don’t flush your…tam…pon…down the toilet. It’ll clog the septic.”

At age twenty-four: [clutching chest and feigning cardiac arrest] “YOU’RE MOVING IN WITH HIM? WHAT IF YUH HAFTA GET AN ABAWTION?”

At age twenty-six, on my wedding day: “Now I don’t have to worry about you anymore.”

At age forty-four, while at brunch: “What do you mean you read Forever in the Queens Public Library? You never told me that! By the way, I think I still have one of those Peanuts books that you never returned before we moved. You owe them a lot of money, missy.”

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