Today, we vote.

Dear Sweet Girl,

When I was a young girl, I would go with my mom on election day to the junior high school in town where we’d pile into a little curtained booth, pull a lever for the curtain to close around us, and she’d flip all sorts of levers and switches. I loved this process, mostly because I couldn’t do it and that was allure enough. The first election I was old enough to vote in was a gubernatorial one in New York where George Pataki was ultimately elected. The first presidential election I voted in brought Bill back for another four. The first protest I was a part of was against the invasion of Iraq. The first time I realized that people who *don’t* vote, yet complain about the state of affairs weren’t thinking clearly,  I was in my late teens.

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This was something we saw this weekend. We had a long talk about why they were doing this, and why they were wearing masks. You were awestruck.

“One vote doesn’t count!” you’ll hear. Well, maybe in a presidential election you might have a point, but in local elections? Nope. No ma’am. Your vote counts so much. Presidential elections are fancy, never-ending, years-long affairs of bullshit upon lies upon shit-talking. Local politics is about you. Personally, not in some abstract “We the People” sort of way. It will effect everything, everyday. From the potholes (I’m looking at you, Dallas) in your street, to the sanitation, to the schools funding, to whether or not the person representing you in Austin or Washington will stand up for your rights.

It matters. Very, very much.

Here’s what does not matter: people who tell you how to think. The loud-mouthed, blabbering, ill-informed radio hosts. The sensationalistic cable news channels. Anyone who puts opinion to “news” without labeling it “opinion” or “satire”.  Actually, just don’t listen to talk radio or watch cable news. Public broadcasting, NPR, actual newspapers with journalists who want to tell the real story? Good. But don’t base your politics on what other people tell you to base it on. There’s always an agenda. Don’t give people that power over you.

Today, we vote. Remember when we talked about Susan B. Anthony after I gave you a coin with her profile on it? She’s one of the ones that helped make this possible for you and me. And we are still suffragettes. And we are still feminists. And we will always be, until the whole world sees us as equals. Don’t ever forget it.

Love,

Mommy

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Your body, your self.

Dear Sweet Girl,

The other day when I was getting out of the shower, I caught a glimpse of my naked self in the mirror. My belly, while never flat, was hanging in a way that made me want to scream. I thought: that pouch, where I carried you for 9+ months, is flabby and hang-y and I hate it. I was so focused on my stretch marks that your voice startled me when you spoke from my bed where you were lounging in your undies. “Mama,” you said, “you look so pretty now. I love your hair when it’s like that.” Not one teeny hint of sarcasm, or falsity, or smoke-up-the-ass-blowing in your statement. You saw me; you thought I looked so pretty. The end.

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At least we can shop at normal stores now.

Girl, I have to tell you that it has been SO hard for me to not speak about our bodies, as humans, in anything other than positives. You have never heard me speak about my weight issues, or the fact that I am fat by many standards. We never talk about food being fattening, or watching our weight. We talk about healthful eating, and types of things that keep us full of energy, and things that make us feel yucky. But I want to crawl inside a stick of butter sometimes SO BADLY. And to you? It’s normal. All very normal.

There will come a day, my love, where people will tell you that you’re ugly, or stupid, or fat, or too skinny, or too tall (we’re dealing with this one already, huh?). I want you to understand something very important: it’s not about you. None of what those people are saying has anything to do with you. If people ever make you feel badly about the way you look, fuck ‘em. Fuck ‘em all to hell. If a man tells you that you’d be perfect if you’d just {enter anything here}, please run as fast as you can in the other direction. If your friends tell you that you’re almost the right size for anything, find new friends.

Because, baby, the truth of the world is this: you will spend most of your young life trying to find your way. If you feel, at age 20 or even 25, that you have found your way, then rest assured you are wrong. Your way is a journey that will take you through a lot of life’s little hills and valleys. Stay on the road, and find the right people to ride with. Sometimes you might need to let go of the steering wheel and take a few detours. But I will tell you right now, love, that when you look back at the road, it should be littered with those people who didn’t love you for who you are. And you know what? Fuck ‘em.

Love,

Mommy