To My Girls,
You are tiny now as I write this. Sprout, you are a tangle of long legs and curly hair that you won’t let me comb out, and attitude and temper tantrums that would make the greatest divas in history proud. Pudge, you are a round ball of baby fat and drool; this happy baby who loves a good snuggle, and who looks just like her big sister, you demand a meal when you are hungry, with every ounce of your chubby being, and you are not happy until you’ve gotten it.
I am able to protect you now, I am able to shield you from the bad stuff of life. The problems you will face, as you grow up, are easily explained away, if I have to explain them at all. For the most part, thanks to an over-protective Daddy and a Mama who can outdo a lioness, you are surrounded by nothing but good in life.
But that will change.
One day I will not be able to explain away a problem, or a challenge. One day you will see things and learn things without me to censor it, without a hand to cover your eyes or your ears, or a shoulder to hide behind. It is my job to get you ready for that day. When you are in the thick of it, when the world is screaming at you, when nothing goes right, I want you to remember a few things.
- Be who you are. Be who you are to the core of yourself. Be who you are to center of your marrow. Be who you are, all the time. Do not let anyone change you. Do not change for anyone. Be yourself.
- Trust yourself. You will have wonderful instincts. Follow them. If going on a date with someone gives you the heebies, then leave the date. If you don’t feel comfortable going somewhere, then do not go. If in the pit of your stomach, you get a weird feeling about doing something, do not do that something. Whatever that something is.
- Be strong. Life is hard my babies. There will be trials and tribulations along the way that will threaten to break you. You will always have a home to come to, you will always have a Mama who will support you and guide you when you need it. But some paths in life you will have to walk on your own. Be strong on that path.
- This too shall pass. When you’re struggling, when life is coming at you from every direction, and you have no sense of balance, remember, this is temporary. The same sun that came up on your worst day, will come up the next, and the day after that. Just hang on until the storm passes.
- Use a condom. Or birth control. Better yet, use both. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Do not stop this until you are sure, as sure as you can be, that you’re ready to be a parent. And do not stop until you are positive your partner is free of anything that can make you sick. If this means you exchange test results, when so be it. Every time girls, every single time.
- It is better to beg forgiveness, than to seek permission. You will never be able to please everyone, and if you try, you will only end up hurting yourself. Do the best you can, and most importantly, do the best for you. If that means you have to ask for forgiveness later on, than that’s fine. But do not ask permission to do the best for yourself. Do not ever ask permission to do good for you.
- Speak softly and carry a big stick. Mama does not speak softly, and for this you will need to look towards Daddy. Do not let violence be your first response, use as much diplomacy as you can. But when all else fails, remember how to throw a punch (Daddy will teach you), and if you go down, go down fighting.
- Never surrender. Never take prisoners. Never. Do not ever back down, especially from something you believe in. If you believe in it enough to want it, believe in it enough to fight for it. And keep fighting for it. Leave a trail of people in your wake, those who tried to keep you from your goals and dreams, leave them bleeding and broken behind you, as you fight for your place in life.
- Never leave a man (or your sister) behind. You two are sisters, with all the emotional baggage that means. There will be times you hate each other, there will be times you fight and scream and yell at each other. You’ll probably use the phrase “I hate you”, but you better never mean it. You two are unique in the world, you are the only children Daddy and I have. You’re it. And there is a day coming, way down the road, when you two will be the only ones left. No one will love you like your sister does, and I speak from experience. Do not leave each other behind, do not give up on each other.
- Do not ever under-estimate the healing power of chocolate. When life has become nothing but shit and you cannot handle a single second of it, eat chocolate. Remember all the times I healed your skinned knees and elbows with Hershey Kisses, and get some chocolate.
- Beauty is only skin deep. You are both beautiful little girls. You will grow into beautiful women, I am sure. And this stops at your skin. Your actions, how you treat others, how you treat yourself, if you keep your word, are much more important than any shade of lipstick or nail polish. Do not rely on the looks you see in the mirror, they will fade. Your ambition, your drive, your brains, will carry you further than any pretty face ever could.
- Cook your meals. Not to get a man, plenty of people will tell you that you need to cook to catch a man. Forget that nonsense. Learn to cook to feed yourself. Learn how to read a recipe, what to substitute and when, cultivate your taste buds. Food needs to nourish you, in more ways than just the caloric one. And remember, everything in moderation.
- Do not forget to have fun. Do not lose the same spirit that has you giggling at each other while getting Mama’s car worked on. Do not lose the ability to laugh and play at 5 in the morning. Bubbles and coloring books are something you should keep in your house, at all times. Do not under—estimate the healing power of a game of football in the back yard, where you can run your cares into the ground.
- Do your laundry. I hate this chore. But clean clothes make you feel better. Whether you do a load a day, or all on one day, do your laundry. Do not run around in a shirt that has yesterday’s dirt on it.
- Love is precious. Do not give your heart to a man, or a woman, who does not deserve it. Your heart will heal, but the breaks will leave scars. Be choosy in who you pick. But when you do find love, love with everything you have. Hold nothing back. Put your whole heart into loving someone.
My precious girls, you are the center of my universe. You are the only thing I have ever done perfectly right. I will always be here, I will always be a safe place to fall, if you need it, a shoulder to cry on, and your biggest cheerleader. If nothing else, I hope you remember these things, I hope I have ingrained them into you, by the time you leave my nest, so that they are second nature to you.
And one more: Never forget how much I love you.