Parenthood is an exercise in patience. Raising boys is often physically exhausting (how many times can one child climb the same chair/sofa/random body of furniture in any given day? DOZENS is the answer.)
But raising girls is hard in other ways, mainly one, and that is DRAMA. OH, THE DRAMA.
I am not kidding when I say I think my baby girl has already thrown me her first dirty look, at the tender age of 9 months. She can see through the crap in life already, this one, and man I love her for it.
In that vein, I wrote these bits of advice to keep her well-advised, even though she has a few years before she’ll actually need them. So here are…
10 BITS OF HELPFUL ADVICE FOR MY GIRL
(You’re going to give me major side-eye for this first one, because the first thing I always say to you is, “YOU’RE SO CUTE!” And you are! Really! But truly…)
1 – Your Looks Don’t Really Matter
Yes, stay healthy and exercise. Yes, eat well. But stop short of letting anyone use that as the only metric for your worth. You are so, so much more than that.
2 – Being a girl is SO fun, and SO hard
Hair, makeup, nails, all the superficial crap et. al of being a female=FUN!
Prom dresses, wedding dresses, spa days, yada yada yada=FUN!
Drama, particularly of the middle-school aged-girl variety=HARD
Being the only girl left out at lunch or a dance or a friend’s house=HARD
Lower pay for doing the same job, sometimes=HARD
Oh, and puberty? VERY hard.
Motherhood=FUN and HARD and back again, usually multiple times within any given day. (Call me when you get to this stage and we will discuss further.)
3 – You Will Screw Up Friendships
Maybe you’ll say something you regret, or say the wrong thing. When you’re wrong, an “I’m sorry” goes far.
When he/she’s wrong, come get to me and I WILL GO AFTER THAT JERK. Just kidding. Mostly. I mean to say, buck up and smile. In that case, a, “What you did made me upset” goes a long way.
4 – Don’t Gossip
Just don’t. This one is self-explanatory. (But if you must indulge, call me and we will get after it, girl.)
5 – Be Grateful
This can be accomplished by prayer, meditation, or just good old-fashioned quiet time. Remove yourself from the noise and the gadgets for 30 seconds a day and just sit there. At the very least you’ll quiet your mind; at the most, you will realize how lucky you are just to be there.
6 – Smile
Even on your worst day when it takes all you have to stand, I want you to stop, point that sweet little face in the mirror, and literally FORCE a smile. It will feel strange and awful because sometimes you JUST WANT TO BE ANGRY, DANG IT, but just do it for a second. There, see? Your mood lifted a bit, right—against your will? Okay, now go back to sulking.
7 – Make a Good Friend in Elementary School and Keep Her
There is something to be said for someone who has witnessed you in all your braces-and-frizzy-haired glory. You will learn to communicate certain things will just a look. And when you are feeling too cool for school, she will remind you that you watched cartoons until well into the 8th grade, so cool it with the hot girl act.
8 – Mean Girls Don’t Go Away, They Just Get Taller
I know, it sucks, doesn’t it? But it’s true. They are always around, but the good news on this is, eventually you learn to start ignoring them.
9 – Find a Sport You Love, and Sweat Regularly
You will find your strength, your spirit, your soul out there on the field or court or track or trail. Tune into the type of physical activity that lets you zone in and go primal. Your future self will thank you for it.
10 – Call Your Mom at Least Once a Day
Okay hold on, let me try again.
10A – Be Okay Alone
(It’s the only way to guarantee you won’t end up that way.)
Practice this by eating alone in a restaurant a few times a year. Sit outside under a tree and ask yourself–then answer–what don’t I like about myself, and how can I change that, starting now? Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Relish your quirks and eccentricities. Be vulnerable and open when you can, and tough and silent when you must. Don’t you dare take others’ opinions of you to heart too much, but do yourself to high standards so that most of what people say about you is good.
And don’t take any crap.
You’re gonna be great. I know it. And if you need me, I’ll be the one right next to you, telling you how cute you are.