Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dear Daughter

When I was 23 and found out I was having my second child, a daughter, I cried. Hysterically. I didn't cry tears of joy, mind you. I cried tears of despair. Not because I didn't want another child, believe me I did, but I didn't think I could raise a daughter. I didn't think I had the tools necessary to prepare a daughter on being, well, a girl. I prayed for boys. The good Lord was good and gave me two, but He also gave me a daughter.

A daughter.

And the only reason I didn't want a little girl was because I was once a little girl myself. And you know what? It wasn't all that fun. Sure when I was a kid, it was all pink and ice skating and roses, but after my parents divorced and I hit puberty and the boys in my school hit puberty and I realized that for the rest of my life I would be judged on how I looked, I decided it sucked.

As a teenager I was so worried about what everyone else thought of me, that I never took time to be me. I was so worried about fitting in and playing the right part and having the right hair and the right shoes and the right boyfriend. I defined myself by what  others told me. I didn't make any 'real' friends because I wasn't really... me.

And maybe it's because for most of my teenage life I lived with my dad before moving out when I was 17, or maybe it's because if my mom told me these things, I didn't listen. But looking back, I wish I would have done it differently. I wish someone would have told me. And I wish I would have listened.

So dear daughter, please listen. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Listen to my words, not because I'm trying to control you or keep you from having fun. But because I've been there. And done it. And there's a better way.

Dear daughter,

Eat healthy and choose the right foods not because you have to be a certain weight or a certain size. Because what you put in your body dictates your health for the rest of your life. It doesn't matter what the scale says or what the clothing tag says. Take care of yourself. Focus on being healthy, not thin.

Be happy just the way you are. You're perfect. You don't need to look like anyone else. You just need to be you.

Enjoy being young. Adulthood will be here before you know it. And then you'll spend your days wishing you were a kid again. Enjoy your youth now. (But don't enjoy it too much.)

Be kind. To everyone. Even the kids who no one else likes. You'll regret it as an adult if you're mean. Trust me.

Find a passion. Do something. Not because all your friends are doing it, but because it makes you happy. Whether it's knitting or soccer or dancing. Have something that you do, that you're proud of.

Go to college. Earn your degree and have your own career. If you chose to stay home with your kids and be a homemaker, that's fine, but have a back-up plan, because you just never know what life may throw at you. You'll never regret going to college. Hell, I never imagined I'd be single mom-ing it, so don't depend on a man to take care of you!

Invest your time and effort in a few good, real friends. You don't need 100 people that you're acquainted with, you need 4 best girls that you can tell everything to, and who will be there when you need them.

Wait. Just wait to be intimate until your marriage. Not because I think you'll be struck by  a lighting bolt if you do, but because you are worth it. You are worth a man waiting for. If he wants to take you to dinner, you owe him NOTHING. If he's good enough for you, he'll understand. And he'll wait. If he tries to pressure you into something that you're not comfortable with, well then call your father and he'll come beat the piss out of him.

Don't use the word piss. (It's not very lady like).

Dress like a lady. I know, I know, clothes these days aren't meant to cover much. But you don't need to show off your goods to get people to like you. I promise. The people that you should surround yourself with should love you for you and not anything else. You'll thank me later for this one.

Know that you can tell me anything and everything. Don't keep secrets from me. Even if you think you'll get in trouble. Remember I was young too and I know what it's like. I know what peer pressure is. I know how it feels to just want to fit in. I know that when you're young, you make decisions without looking far enough ahead to see how it will affect you later on. Just talk to me. Tell me what's troubling you. I can't promise  I won't freak out, I mean I am your mother, but I want you to feel like you can tell me what's on your mind. And it'll be safe.

When it comes time to date and have a boyfriend, just remember that even though these are modern times, chivalry is not dead. A real man who was raised right will treat you like a lady. If he doesn't, he's not worth your time. And by the same token, you need to treat people with respect. I want you to have good self esteem, but I don't want you to look down on anyone. You are not the judge.

Respect you elders. Kids these days are rude and ungrateful and selfish. Don't be them. Be good, and kind, and compassionate.

Know that I love you. Know that I'm human and I'll make a thousand mistakes. But at the end of the day, you're my daughter, and I love you to the moon and back. I don't want you to hurt. I don't want you to be sad. I don't want you to make poor decisions. I may try to protect you from everything. I can't help myself. I'm not going to be the cool mom that lets you do whatever you want and stay out late. I'm going to be the mom that stalks you and follows you. And hugs you in public. And wipes your face with her thumb (after licking it). Don't get frustrated with me. One day you'll have children of your own and you'll understand how impossibly difficult it is to let go of a part of your heart.

Dear daughter, I sure hope you're listening.

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