Saturday, May 3, 2014

To my girls...

I've been thinking about writing this letter to my girls (aged 5 and 18 months) for a few months now. Sometimes I think about what I want out of my parenting experience and if I died today what pieces of advice I'd want to leave behind to my girls. I don't want to even pretend to know how to raise teenagers. I know I won't always take my own advice but in an ideal situation these are things I want to teach my girls. Not everyone will agree with my views or my values and I'm completely ok with that. So here is a letter to my girls from the bottom of my heart...

To my girls,

Right now you girls are still my babies. There are so many things I want to teach you that you just wouldn't understand yet but there are things I can instill in you while you are small. I'm not perfect and I make mistakes. What matters is I am trying. There is perfection in inperfection.

I think every parent wants their children to have better then what they had. They want them to not make the same mistakes. That would be ideal. But I actually want and expect you to make mistakes even if it kills me to watch you make them. It's a part of life and a part of improving.

If life were ideal I would tell you to not get married til you're AT LEAST 25. Go travel the world, get your degree, reel in several fish in the sea before you keep one, have a handful of friends that accept you for who you are, and just live life as free as you can.

By the time I turned 19, I was married. A year later I was pregnant. We really were just two kids who didn't know much about life except for the fairy tale we had imagined up for our lives. I'm surprised your dad and I didn't kill each other the first year of our marriage. We hardly knew each other and jumped into something because it's what we thought we were supposed to do. Although I don't regret marrying your dad or having you girls so early in life I don't want that for you. I want you to date the person you fall in love with for awhile. I want you to get an education and a great job before you settle down and have kids. If that's what you even want. I don't ever want you to rely on another individual, especially your partner, to be the sole provider. You need to have the resources for you and your children if it so be that you need that. It's your responsibility to provide that security if need be.

Don't ever let someone tell you that your only purpose here is to have kids and be a wife. I'm not saying those aren't incredibly fulfilling and important jobs. I've enjoyed doing that for the first years of your lives, but I've also witnessed countless women lose their identity, their sanity, and their individuality trying to fit in "the mom and wife box". It's easy to get so lost in caring for others that we forget ourselves. We've been taught in society that if we take care of ourselves before others that is selfish, but it's a lie. If you don't take care of yourself how are you supposed to care for others? If you've lost your identity how can you help shape your children's individual identities? You simply can't. When/if you become a mom remember that you and your partner are a team. Your dad and I share the responsibilty for you kids because we are both parents. Your dad has always been great at that. No one team mate is better or more powerful than the other. Never forget that.

Remember that health and fitness are important. Take care of your body and the things you put in it. You can add so many years to your life simply by eating whole foods and exercising. Make it simple, realistic, and more importantly fun! Your body and your mind will thank you for it. And never forget moderation, moderation, moderation!

Pick something you're passionate about and put your heart into it even if others tell you that you can't achieve it. But never forget to balance reality with passion. You can dream big but find a realistic way to achieve your goals.

Dont rely on others love to determine your happiness. The other day, Jayda, you told me that you were your own best friend because if you don't love yourself you can't love others. I'm so proud that at 4 years old you have already picked up on that concept because even some adults don't get it. But please have a best friend besides yourself because that's weird...

Always question authority because even they make mistakes. Look at both sides of an argument even (especially!!) if authority tells you not to. People will try to tell you how to think or what is true but it's your responsibility to search that truth for yourself. Think critically about every situation but try not to become a know it all that refuses to admit they were wrong. Always be willing to switch viewpoints. That's how we learn and obtain truth. Be skeptical but not untrusting. Sometimes it's a hard balance. And remember that just because we want something to be true doesn't make it so.

When someone tells you something that sounds too good to be true it probably is. When you see something is free it probably has strings attached.

As for religion, I want you to apply the same principles as anything in life. Be skeptical and question authority but I will never tell you what you should or shouldn't believe in. If I can help it I'll make sure no one around you does the same. Your religious journey is your own to walk and no one else's. You make sense of whatever you want and I'll support you 100% even if I came to a different conclusion. Just never conform your views just because it's popular or easier. That goes for things besides religion too. It could be politics, values, social norms, etc. If you go with the crowd you're cheating on yourself. That is a true tragedy in life.

I'm not going to lie to you. There will be hard times in life. It's just simply a part of your story. No good story is perfect, without its tragedies. The hard times make the good times that much better. Just never forget to communicate the way you feel to those that you love and trust. Holding in things is not healthy and leads to anxiety. But also don't dwell on the negative and learn to move past the painful experiences.

Learn to accept criticism and realize that not everyone is going to like you. You're not here to impress anyone and you'll learn in life who your true friends are. Those that are there for you through anything, even when they don't agree with your life choices, are the keepers. You can't waste your time with conditional friendships. They aren't worth the energy or head space.

Never be afraid to talk to me about something. I'm here as a guide, not to be your authority figure. You will have good and bad consequences for the things you do in life. I'm just here to enforce them.

When you go rock climbing you have a guide who knows way more than you do but they've also experienced the climb a thousand times before. They are there to help you get to your destination safely and to help correct your mistakes. It would be wrong of them to expect you to not make any. It would also be wrong if they forced your head in the direction they wanted you to look, or put blinders on the parts they don't want you to see. They don't control your climbing experience just like I don't control your life. You'll take different things from the same things we experience.

I want you to feel comfortable sharing with me your mistakes and your triumphs without the fear of judgment. I want you to be able to talk to me about boys and sex. Sex is a dirty word for so many parents but it's a very natural part of a relationship. Always be safe and smart. Be in a monogamous relationship and make sure you have the emotional maturity to handle such serious things. Bottom line, have respect for your body but never ever let anyone tell you what to do with it. Just remember that every choice has a consequence. Good and bad.

Heart breaks are completely normal even expected. It will happen probably more than once. One time after a boy broke my heart I literally threw up. Now I laugh at that situation and one day you will too. Try not to throw up though. That's gross and totally not worth it. I promise.

Don't take yourself too seriously.

Yes your body is fantastic. Stop analyzing yourself by a number on a scale. How do you feel? That's your best indicator of health and beauty.

Men can control themselves and their thoughts. You are not ever responsible for their thoughts and don't buy into it if you're told you are.

You are not a licked cupcake or a chewed up piece of gum. And if any man has a problem that you weren't abstinent before marriage than he cares more about his ideals than you. It's not necessarily his fault, he's just been taught that his whole life.

Which leads me to my final point. Always have empathy even if you can't understand someone completely. Actions are a consequence of thought. Thought is a consequence of upbringing. And upbringing is something we don't choose. Always look at why someone did something because there is almost always another layer to what we see. Not everyone questions what they were told to believe because they don't understand there is more than one way to look at a situation. And if they do they just want what's easier, not what's true. That's a bias of the human brain and not always a character flaw. But there is a difference between having empathy and being a doormat. Again it's about the balance.

"Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been one of these."

I love you girls more than anything so when I need my mama time don't take it personally. That's going back to having my individuality and space. Personal time and space is essential for your mental health. It has nothing to do with you. And if/when you become a mom don't feel guilty taking a break. You deserve it.

Keep a journal. One day you'll love to go back and read it and laugh at yourself and the problems you thought you had. And read my journal to compare notes. I'm sure we made some of the same mistakes so don't be scared to talk to me because I seem old. I probably will be able to relate at some level.

Remember this is advice you have the choice to take or leave. Choice is your right but consequences are not.

"Compassion is free, but respect is earned."- (The show you guys still have Netflix? If so, watch it!)

Love always and unconditionally,

Your mama