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Wit and Wisdom for Navigating Adulthood


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Putting together my adult life wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.


I could pursue any career that I wanted, but I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. 


It was a good thing I wasn't one of those girls who had to have a boyfriend because I would have had a hard time finding one.  


I had no idea how I was going to juggle having a career and being somebody's mother. 

It all worked out okay. 


I found my way to a career in marketing.


I discovered “The Guy” and have been married to him for three decades.


I eventually had three daughters.


I feel badly that young women today face more pressure than ever to have it all—even though nobody explains exactly how to pull that off.


I wrote Things Your Mother Should Have Told You so that my daughters would have a guide to the trickier aspects of navigating life as a grown-up.

I’m happy to share it with others in case it helps them too.



Tell me when your book is released:

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Things Your Mother Should Have Told You
Wit and Wisdom for Young Women about Building a Life

Becoming an adult isn’t easy. Everything associated with #goals doesn’t magically fall into place. And yet nobody (even your own mother) talks about how to tackle the trickier parts of grown-up life like:

  • How do you find your dream job when you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up?

  • How do you decide whether your boyfriend is “The Guy”?

  • How do you know when you’re ready to have a baby?

  • How do you manage the baby once she or he gets here?

Through honest and often funny tales about her own life experiences, Joanne McHugh addresses the dilemmas every woman faces as she builds her adult life.

Joanne shares everything she’s told her own daughters—all she’s learned about dating, finding a job, building a career, navigating marriage, having a baby, and being somebody’s mother.

Readers will be served common-sense wisdom for navigating adulthood, along with side helpings of laughter and reassurance.


When my oldest daughter started college and the other two were in high school, I kept having dreams about having to unpack a giant suitcase filled with their stuff and mine, all jumbled together. 


Eventually I realized that seeing my daughters hit different milestones was triggering memories of what it was like to be their age. I decided that now that they were old enough that I didn’t have to preserve the illusion of always having had my life completely together, maybe I had some baggage to unpack.


I decided to share the things that parents tend to edit out of the life stories they tell their kids. Instead of papering over the struggles, I would be open about the ordinary challenges and dilemmas that come along with being a grown-up. 


Once I wrote it all down, I stopped dreaming about the suitcase. I'm happy to share what I unpacked.

Me with the original audience for my book, along with the guy who made that audience possible



Even Grown-Ups Like Stories 

My sweet spot is telling tales about the ordinary challenges of assembling your grown-up life--like how you figure out what you want to be when you grow up or how to adjust to being somebody's mother.

More recently, as my nest has started to empty, I've been pondering how to best parent nearly-grown children.

Maybe your own mother never talked to you about any of these dilemmas, but I'm happy to share what I've discovered.

Topics Suitable for College Students

Finding Your Dream Job When You Don't Know What You Want to Be When You Grow Up: Choosing the major, let alone the career, that's right for you may be harder than you expected. How to discover the clues pointing you to the career path you are most likely to love.

The First Job 411: Spoiler alert for recent and soon-to-be grads: The working world may not be as welcoming as you hoped. This what-to-expect rundown will gently prepare you to face reality. What expectations might be unrealistic? What do you do if you hate your first job? How exactly do you find your way to your dream job from your starter job? 

Topics Suitable for Women Assembling Their Grown-Up Lives

Beware of Mauve Napkins: Why planning a wedding isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be and the secrets to making your wedding day the best it can be.

If Only I Knew Where We’d Put the Baby: How do you know when you’re really ready to become somebody’s mother? And how do you figure out how to fit a whole new person into your already very full life?

Is It Wrong to Want to Return Early from Maternity Leave? The realities of life with a newborn that nobody talks about and coping tips for making it through the first few months.

Topics Suitable for Parents at the Grown-and-Flown Stage of Parenting

Welcome to the Parents Facing Redundancy Club: Feeling like the Maytag repairman these days because your nearly-grown children don't need you as much anymore? Some ideas for navigating the trickiest stage of parenting--when you have to figure out when and how to let go.

The Ultimate Lovely Parting Gift for Your Soon-to-Be Graduate: Looking to improve your young adult child's prospects for future success and happiness? Discover why planned obsolescence is the greatest gift you can give.

Things Your Nearly-Grown Children Wish You Would Tell Them: Real life doesn’t resemble the highlight reels featured on social media. How sharing the behind-the-scenes stories of your young adult life can help prepare your teens and 20-somethings to face the realities of becoming a grown-up.



Wondering how you’ll find your dream job

if you’re not quite sure what you want to be when you grow up?

I feel you. I was a wayward accounting major who struggled to find my way to the career path that was right for me. Share your email, and I’ll send you a download of 8 Tips to Find a Career That Fits.

Look for an email with your free download.

Check your spam folder if you don't see it!

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Are you the parent of a teen or


Welcome to the Parents Facing Redundancy Club!

Share your email to get some ideas for navigating the trickiest stage of parenting. 

Look for an email with your free download. Check your spam folder if you don't see it!

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Contact Joanne
Authors love to hear from readers—it helps make all of those hours at the keyboard worthwhile. I welcome your feedback. Or if you have an adulting dilemma, maybe I can help. You can reach me at:

What do you wish your mother would have told you?

So many aspects of adulthood can make you wonder—how the hell is this supposed to work? Are you facing an adulting dilemma that you wish somebody would address? Tell me the things you wonder about or wish somebody would explain.

Drop me a line at Joanne_McHugh@msn.com.

Even if the topic doesn’t make it into

Things Your Mother Should Have Told You, take heart. A sequel is always a possibility if I don’t know what to get my daughters for Christmas.

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