Thursday, April 14, 2016

10 Things My Daughter Needs to Know

Our sweet, beautiful and funny Drew...

I can't take complete credit for this and there are a ton of similar type articles out there, but much of it is my own words.  It's something I've held on to for the past 5 years waiting for you to get old enough to understand the meaning behind it, but also when it might be needed most.  Sometimes I think I should have sent it sooner, and yet now seems like the perfect time for you to read it.

Please don't skim through it like you're prone to do with other blogs, articles, posts, etc.  These words are from the heart and I want you to keep them close for those days you really need to hear/read something uplifting and positive.  Read it in Morgan Freeman's voice if you must.  Just Read It ALL.

1. It is not your job to keep the people you love happy.  Not me, not mom, not your brother or sisters, not your friends.  I promise, it's not.  The hard truth is that you can't, anyway.

2. Your physical fearlessness is a strength. Please continue using your body in the world: run, jump, climb, and throw.  We love watching you streaking down the road on your skateboard, or swimming proudly in the pool, or chasing Bubba Jay around the house and then him chasing you back.  There is both health and a sense of mastery in physical activity and challenges.

3. You should never be afraid to share your passions. If you are sometimes embarrassed that you still like to play video games with dad, for example, or brush mom's hair and you worry that your friends will make fun of you, don’t be.  Anyone who teases you for what you love to do is not a true friend.  This is hard to realize, but essential.

4. It is okay to disagree with me, and others. You are old enough to have a point of view, and we want to hear it.  So do those who love you.  Don't pick fights for the sake of it, of course, but when you really feel mom or I are wrong, please say so.  You have heard me say that you are right, and you've heard me apologize for my behavior or point of view when I realize they were wrong, albeit sometimes not as soon as I should.  Your perspective is both valid and valuable.  Don't shy away from expressing it.

5. You are so very beautiful. Your face now holds the baby you were and the young woman you are rapidly becoming.  My eyes and cheeks and mom’s coloring combine into someone unique, someone purely you.  I can see the dark clouds of society's beauty standards hovering, manifest in your own growing self-consciousness.  We beg of you not to lose sight with your own beauty, so much of which comes from the fact that your spirit runs so close to the surface.

6. Reading is essential.  It is the central leisure-time joy of my life, as you know although I've been too long with a book in my hands.  Mom and I are immensely proud and pleased to see that you share it.  That identification you feel with characters, that sense of slipping into another world, of getting lost there in the best possible way.  Those never go away.  Welcome.

7. You are not me. We are very alike, but you are your own person, entirely, completely, fully.  We know this, I promise, even when we lose sight of it.  I know that separation from both mom and I, are one of the fundamental tasks of your adolescence, which I can see glinting over the horizon.  I dread it like ice in my stomach, that space, that distance, that essential cleaving, but I want you to know I know how vital it is.  Mom and I are going to be here, no matter what, Drew.  The red string that ties us together will stretch.  I know it will.  And once the transition is accomplished there will be a new, even better closeness.  I know that too.

8. It is almost never about you. What I mean is that when people act in a way that hurts or makes you feel insecure, it is almost certainly about something happening inside of them, and not about you.  I struggle with this one horribly, and mom and I have tried very, very hard never once to tell you that you are being "too sensitive" or to "get over it" when you feel hurt.  Believe me; I know how feelings can slice your heart, even if your head knows otherwise.  But maybe, just maybe, it will help to remember that almost always other people are struggling with their own demons, even if they bump into you by accident.

9. There is no single person who can be your everything. Be very careful about bestowing this power on any one person.  I suspect you are trying to fill a gnawing loneliness, and if you are, you inherited it from both mom and I.  That feeling, Virginia Woolf's "emptiness about the heart of life," is just part of the deal; a conflict between community and independence.  Trying to fill that ache with other people (or with anything else, like food, alcohol, numbing behaviors of a zillion sorts you don't even know of yet) is a lost cause, and nobody will be up to the task.  You will feel let down, and, worse, that loneliness will be there no matter what.  I'm learning to embrace it, to accept it as part of who I am.  I hope to help you do the same.

10. We are trying our best.  I know we’re not good enough and not the father and mother you deserve.  We are impatient and fallible and raise our voices.  We are sorry.  We love you more than anyone else in the entire world and we always wish we could be better for you.  I'll admit we don't always love your behavior, and we’re quick to tell you that.  But every single day, we love you with every fiber of our being, no matter what.  Never, ever forget this.

There are probably 10 more things.  Hell maybe there are 20-40, but these are the most important for you now.  We'll cross off the others as we get to them.  For now, that's a "moo" point.