My sweet Girls,
I love you.
I’m not perfect at showing you that I love you all the time and I know sometimes you wonder. I yell when you don’t listen to me. I get frustrated, I get angry. I get tired. I’m an imperfect being. But I love you so much it hurts. And I will never not love you. I would give up everything for your health and happiness. I would take the sword, lose the money, give up my ambitions, to make your lives better because you are incredible, effervescent beings and I want nothing more than to see more of you becoming the women you were meant to be.
As your mother, though, I need to let you know some basic facts of life. I’ll give your brother his own list (which will likely be in another post).
- For starters, no one is perfect.
You are not perfect. (Let me stress this… YOU are NOT perfect… So you don’t get to judge until you are perfect). I am not perfect. Your Daddy is not perfect (shhhh… don’t tell him). That cheerleader with the gorgeous boyfriend and the perfect grades, she’s not perfect. What you see from the outside for most people, including what you will put out there for the public to see, is a front, a farce, a wall placed for the rest of the world to view. That wall is sitting in front of a pile of rubble, hiding the rubble. Just like my pile of rubble. And, sweethearts, just like your piles of rubble. Our piles are made up of trinkets we’ve gathered, memories we’ve made, mistakes we tripped through, loves and laughs and mess-ups and adrenaline rushes. Our piles are scattered and gathered. we might be OCD enough to organize it by color or chronologically, but they are still piles of pieces of life that matter only to us and those that love us.
For all those perfect people that you see out there, their rubble is as blemished and scattered and shuffled as yours and mine. These perfect people curse when you aren’t listening. They stumble and cry and fuss and get angry and say horrible things and are generally human. They.are.not.perfect.
That is the nature of being human. So a) don’t judge yourself against the brightly painted walls that some people place in front of their rubble piles. And b) be kind. don’t judge other’s for the walls that you see and if you happen to slip past them to see a bit of their piles of rubble. Be gentle and kind. Their rubble matches yours. And you never know if that pile of rubble behind their wall includes pain and hurt and fear and sorrow. And kindness, even in the face of brash ego or false bravado, often will soften their hearts to you and gain you friends.
- Your soul is the most important and beautiful part of you.
You are both beautiful girls. My bright-eyed, dark-haired beauty and my fire-haired flame-tempered star. You are lovely to look at. But that’s just the outside. A skin over the incredible mind and deep souls that make you such incredible people. Do NOT value your hair or skin or body over what you do with your time or heart or mind. Because when you are helping feed someone that is hungry, when you are treating the wounded, when you are holding the scared or hurt or frightened, when you give your time or energy or money and are giving of yourself for the betterment of this world, the people around you won’t care if you have no hair, three noses, 1800 warts, and weigh 600 lbs. They will care that someone cared enough about them to do something.
Be THAT kind of beautiful.
- While your soul is the most important part of your body, your mind will be there for you for the rest of your life. Treasure it, use it, store information and get an education.
Beauty lasts only so long, and your soul will feed your life with joy and love, but your brain will feed you, literally. Come hell or high water, through single life, marriage, divorce, good times and hard ties, what skills you learn will be what you rely on to keep moving forward. So get an education or a skill set. Find a trade or go to college. And don’t waste your time on something useless like I did. Archaeology wasted 4 years. And while I know a lot about history (enough to know we keep repeating it), and I loved what I studied and that matters, I should have done something else with those years of my life. I’d probably be more fulfilled in my career if I had.
So get that education or trade, learn to rely on yourself, and lay the groundwork to contribute to this world.
- Your body is beautiful and will always be beautiful no matter whether you gain weight or lose weight, get a round tummy or a big butt or flabby arms, with or without makeup, because it is where you live. It is your home regardless of where you live in this world.
Beauty is not what you see on TV or the magazines. That’s just a cliché BS image put out there to sell clothing and diet pills. True beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Think about the people you love. You love them because of who they are, and because of that you probably think they are beautiful, right? I think of the people I love and I see them for their warmth and soul and love. And I don’t even think about whether they need to lose weight or should cut their hair or if they wear ugly clothes or OMG, need to shave their mustache. I think about how much I want them in my life and how I like hearing their voices over the phone and how excited we all get when we see them and get to spend time with them.
While keeping yourself healthy is important because it keeps you with us longer, beyond that, if you gain weight or have a big butt or whatever you have that doesn’t meet some stupid standard some idiot in New York came up with, you will still be you. And you are incredibly beautiful and important to us. And you will be incredibly important to other people in your lives as you grow. Remember that. None of us live in a vacuum. You matter to those around you, regardless of your pant size, hair color, or makeup skills.
- Your body is YOURS. No one else’s.
This means you set the limits for when someone touches you or when you accept anyone talking about your body. You can’t stop people from talking about what they want to talk about, but you (and me with your backup, ’cause hunny, momma’s got your back) don’t have to accept it and can take action to make them stop or apologize if their statements are unacceptable. That means you can stand up for yourself if someone insults you. And if they don’t stop, you CAN take it higher. Go to a teacher. Who cares if they make fun of you for doing that if they are already making fun of your body. They’ve already crossed that line and nothing you can say or do or avoid doing will stop them from being @$$hats. Take it to a higher authority.
If the school won’t stop them, you take it to me, baby. There are laws meant to protect against bullying. And laws to protect against unwanted touching. Any kind of unwated touching. And I will come in with the force of a sledge hammer and teach that school how they are supposed to act with regards to bullying. They don’t have to like it.
If someone is touching you or snapping your bra strap or pulling on your pants or otherwise degrading you or your clothing, they.have.crossed.the.line.
Body autonomy means you must give permission to be touched. By anyone. At any time. For the rest of your lives. Even I will ask for hugs and kisses and snuggles, but you don’t have to give them to me. (please do… momma needs her snuggles from her babies). Beyond the required pull-up changes and putting on some pants, (Vivi, looking at you, ya little streaker), your body is yours.
- The world out there is not friendly to women.
That’s just a fact. As women, Vivi and Sophie, you need to realize it and brace for it. But that is not me saying you have to accept it. Fight back. Wear what you are comfortable in. Study what you love. Be yourselves. Ignore the naysayers. You are just as capable as any man. Anyone who says otherwise is scared that you are proving them wrong by being so much more than they are. You just go ahead and make them feel small. Because they are small.
And here’s a big one, ladies. Help other women who are struggling. While we, as women, face a struggle to be accomplished and safe all the time, women of color in our world have it much harder. You are a white woman in a world where being white is being bestowed with privilege by birth. Use it to help others. If you find the chance to stand next to any other women, regardless of their race or ethnicity or religion, and help them feel safe and find their own empowerment, do it. Helping others be stronger in the face of adversity makes us all stronger together.
Having said that, DO NOT GET WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE OF THE PERSON DOING THE ATTACKING. You take the woman you are helping and get away from the person who is throwing slurs or otherwise scaring them. There are some super crazy people out there that feel empowered to force their narrow views on other people right now, including using violence and force to do so. Don’t be a hero. Take the woman you are helping and Back.Away. Give them distance. And let people that are more qualified and more capable to handle that kind of behavior take care of it. This is your momma begging you to be careful, baby girls.
- The world out there is not friendly to people that don’t look like the people in power.
I say this as a word of caution. Not that I don’t want you to not fight for what’s right. Do, but please be safe about it. If you are going to fight the powers, please do it in a manner that is safe and peaceful. And give anyone that might be a threat distance. Get out if it gets dangerous. Many people had to flee the Nazis, not just those that were persecuted, but many who helped those that were persecuted. Be aware of when it’s time to get out and if you need my help, call me. I’ve got your backs.
- The world out there has expectations on you, even people that don’t know you, and you DO.NOT.HAVE.TO.MEET.THOSE.EXPECTATIONS.
Dye your hair blue and get tattoos (at safe, clean, LICENSED facility with clean inspections… ask me and I’ll help you find a good place). Study that topic that seems weird but will feed you. Be the brilliant, nerdy girl in the geochemist laboratory solving the world’s need for alternative fuels. Figure out how to reverse global warming while wearing rainbow striped tights and a long black braid. Be you. Meet YOUR expectations. Make yourself happy.
There is so little in this world worth fighting for more than pure happiness, and you can’t get that from money or power or prestige. You get that from acceptance and love.
- What you do with your life matters, no matter what you choose to do.
You can cure cancer. Or you can make people beautiful for their big days. And they are both equally important and valuable career goals and you should be proud that you are doing something for yourself and contributing to this world, no matter what you do. Don’t let other people’s expectations of your use of your brilliance set your definition for a happy life.
- You love who you love, and you love them with every drop of your soul regardless of what anyone else, INCLUDING ME AND YOUR DAD, think!
If you happen to be gay, I don’t want you to be scared to come out to me. I don’t want you to come out to me at all. Just bring home your girlfriend and introduce me to her and I swear I’ll be as cool as I would be to a boyfriend (which means I won’t be cool and I’ll probably threaten her… that’s the plan with the boys, so I’m not going to change my plan with a change in gender.)
If you love someone who happens to have more melanin in his or her skin, or speaks a different language or prays to a different god or even goddess, I’m cool. What matters to me is that the person you love loves you right back and treats you with respect, deference, and consideration. That they hug you when you need hugs. That they kiss you until you’re breathless. That they hold your hand when you’re scared. And that they do everything in their power to make your dreams come true. I don’t care what package that comes in, so long as you have that in a relationship.
And if you choose to not fall in love and want to rock the awesome apartment in NYC with 30 cats, I’ll buy you the air freshener. Your happiness is what matters here.
- Be open to advice, but do not always listen to it.
You will get advice from everyone, including me. Brace yourself, I’m full of unsolicited advice. Take it. Listen to it. Think it through. Chart it out if you have to. Compare it to FACTS that you know to be true. And apply it if it works for you. Know that people that have come before you often have been through what you are going through, so we might have more insight into the steps you are taking. But that doesn’t mean you have to step in our footsteps. It just means that we left footsteps you use if you want to. You can always forge your own trail.
We will love you no matter what.
- Come to me or your dad, even if you screw up.
If you are stuck somewhere unsafe or you feel uncomfortable, send me a text with just the letter X. (I stole this from another parent). I’ll come get you. Call me. I don’t care if you’ve been drinking or using other inappropriate substances (though I would hope your intelligence would ensure that you are able to decide NOT to do this). Even if you are grown and out of my house. That rule stands. I will come for you. I won’t judge. I won’t even ask questions. You can tell me if you want without judgement. And I’ll never ask later on. We want you safe above all else, including above anger from a bad decision.
- Family First each and every day of your lives.
Ladies, Love each other. And love your brother. He’s got a pure heart behind that mischievous behavior. You will need someone to talk to that understands where you come from. That’s your sister and brother.
I know that you’re probably reading this thinking “OMG, mom, shut up.”
No. I’m your mother. I’m not going to shut up. Suck it up, buttercups. But I will endeavor to listen when I remember that that’s the kind of mom I want to be. I’m not perfect. I’ve got a goal for myself to be this kind of mom. I’m going to make mistakes and miss the mark. But know that I want to be there for you. I want you to feel free to come to me without fear of judgement. And if I screw up, you can feel free to all me on it. I love you both so very much. Be good to each other, my baby girls. You are both such walking talking miracles.