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.

Image

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

Advertisements

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.

chub

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

You are not who you were.

Dear Sweet Girl,

Back in the olden days, there was no internet. If I were the praying type, I would fall on my knees and thank the good Lord for that piece of divine providence. I sometimes imagine situations I was in while in my teens and early 20’s that, if they were up on YouTube, would completely have ruined my life. Love, please understand this truth: The internet is FOREVER.

But let’s also get another thing straight here: you are not who you were. You are you, and you are fine, and you are good. Your life does not need to be “tainted” by things that happened in your youth. I am a person that had a youth and young adulthood that is miles, leagues, eons away from where I am now. I did good things and I did bad things. I had fun and I got hurt. I hurt others, badly. I was bullied and I was the bully. I feigned teenage angst and arrogance like I was gunning for a scholarship to Asshole University. I spent time with people who were good and bad. People who cared, and people who couldn’t have cared less about the world and the people around them. Some were seriously great companions. Some I can’t even remember the names of. I see some of them on Facebook and they are still talking about the same parties, and listening to the same music, and hating the same people. Are they bad for that? Not in a million years. But what it is is that so many have decided that those years were the absolute best they’re ever going to have. There’s no use in even trying to get better than that day.

b84da58e5d465dc5085d3af35c5587ea

I am not who I was then. A lot of who I was came from dishonesty and the need to fit in somewhere. You will also, at some point, likely compromise who you are and what you feel in order to please someone. I can tell you that you shouldn’t do it, but you probably will anyway. I had a “friends” who actively mocked me for being Jewish. Like, they called me “heeb” and “kyke” and then hugged me and we’d have a beer. They didn’t really mean it, they’d say. And I would laugh and the shame would stay on me all day. They were joking! They were so funny! And I’d think “I have to get the fuck out of this fucking place”. And I did.

When you grow older, you will always be at the mercy of your former self in some way. You can jump a million miles away, and you will still be compared to the person you were once. Especially by people who really truly think they know you. And then you’ll come to a point that you realize that even those people don’t know you at all. I promise you, you can forge ahead and be a person you want to be, and find friends and partners who love you for your true self.

Don’t let who you were – at ANY point in your life – dictate who you want to be. Who you could be. You can reinvent yourself as many times as you need to in order to fully realize your potential as a person. You might disappoint a lot of people in your life, but the worst person you can disappoint is yourself. Constantly work on making yourself proud of your constant forward march. We’ve talked about this a lot in the past few weeks: everyone deserves another chance in our hearts.

Love,

Mommy

Here’s Whatcha Don’t Know.

Dear Sweet Girl,

I’ve decided rather than write you all of these letters about how you might be able to learn from my mistakes, I’ll share them with the world. Because I can, you know? And what’s more, people are literally clamoring for advice from a mom of one with little experience or marked measures of success. See? That’s sarcasm, love. You haven’t really grasped it yet, but you’re surprisingly astute for a five year old.

I’ll chat with you about all sorts of things that I’m not an expert on. I do have pretty good research skills, and the ability to make people think that I’m an expert through my powers of persuasion and question dodging. Fake it till you make it, baby. That’s my game.

Actually, right now I’m thinking about posting on Facebook about how awesome it is to be so carefree that I’m totally fine with you playing in the yard on your own. You’ve taken some books to your treehouse (not really a treehouse, but a part of the swingset – what do you think I’m fucking crazy?) and are sitting out there reading among nature like a young Laura Ingalls. People really love when they hear how other parents are more comfortable with their parenting than they are. Alas, you’ve come running in because you’ve heard some mysterious noise from the alley (trash bins being rolled in) that you’ve discerned to be wolves (in North Texas). That’s how you roll, baby. Scared the fuck out of that treehouse. Whatever, we’re carefree, right?

Here’s whatcha don’t know: I lived a lot before you came along. You’ll have a *very* hard time tricking me when you’re older (not that I expect that. You’re the worst narc I know). While I may be the model of compassionate and contemplative parenting in the eyes of people who only read my Facebook updates and never actually spend any time with me, I will say that I’ve done my fair share of living in my early years.

I love you, sweets. And I got your back.

Love,

Mommy