There are so many things that I want to teach my kids. I want them to appreciate people. And life. And art. And love. And I want them to embrace their individuality. I want them to recognize that they are unlike any other people on earth. That they have skills and talents and strengths that no one else can match. And I want to empower them to find out what those things are. I am especially concerned about being a good role model for my daughter because I feel that I, as a woman, have to pave the way for her to become a proud, self-sufficient, confident woman too. And that is so scary to me. Because what if I fail? I think about this often. So often, in fact, that I map out conversations we will have when she is thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-two…I try and imagine how I will handle the hard questions. The ones that I wasn’t brave enough to ask or that no one was brave enough to answer for me. It all makes my head spin.
But then, what about my son? He has an amazing role model in MB. He really does. MB is kind and generous and thoughtful and loves his own mother (which is a really great way to tell if a man is worth your time, by the way he treats his mama) and would do anything for his family. And that is all great. But I started thinking about my contributions, or what they will be, to my son’s life and how they will differ from what MB brings to the table. I want so much for him. I want him to be the kind of man that his father is. But, and I think every parent can identify with this, I want him to be better than us. Better than the best.
I keep trying to figure out what I want to say to him in these moments in his life when he dares to ask me the hard questions. I keep thinking about what my responses will be. And I don’t know any of the answers right now. I know that being a girl is hard business. I, obviously, can’t speak about being a boy and growing up. So, I guess I will play it all by ear. Because, aside from directing him to MB every time he has any concerns or questions about anything, what else can I do?
I do, however, have a few things I want him to know. You know, from me. The one who carried him in her uterus for a really long effing time.
1. No one will EVER love you as much as I do. Ever. Like, there is no possible way that this could happen. You just remember that.
2. Don’t be a dick. Listen. There are going to be times that you will feel like you aren’t good enough. And everyone has those moments. And kids are mean. And they will make you feel that way ON PURPOSE. Don’t buy into that stuff. Don’t let people make you feel that way and DON’T DO IT TO ANYONE ELSE. (Do you hear me, son? Don’t be a dick.)
3. Don’t let anyone push you around. Don’t go around punching people in the throat. But don’t take any shit either. You are better than that. And if they are pushing you around, you are also better than THEM. Know that.
4. Be kind to the ladies. And not just because you hope they will make out with you under the bleachers. Be kind to the ones that you have no interest in making out with too. Because she is someone’s sister. She also possibly has a brother who will kick your ass. And, I have to tell you, son, I am not sure I would blame him. I have threatened many, many people for my own sister. So…
5. Don’t listen to the radio too much. This doesn’t sound like a big deal. But I have NO idea what kind of crap will be happening on the airwaves when you are older. I know what kind of crap is happening now. And pop culture is a trap. I am not saying that you aren’t allowed to listen to popular music. I am just saying that you shouldn’t let it suck all of the intelligence out of your head. (If you need an example of what I am talking about, please Google “2 Chainz”. The end.)
6. Laugh at yourself. PLEASE do not take yourself too seriously. PLEASE. You are amazing. But you are flawed. And sometimes, you are going to do things that are SO STUPID. And the only way to get through that stuff without sticking your head in the oven is to laugh like a madman at yourself. And it is OKAY.
7. Please, also know that your parents are flawed. We are going to do our damndest to make you proud. Seriously. But we are going to mess up. Probably a lot. But it is just because parenting is like driving while blindfolded.
8. Find something that you love and DO IT. I don’t care if it is cooking, writing, music, Civil War reenactment, ballet or football. Just do it. (I am not a fan of football, so I would prefer ANY of the others over this. But…whatever.) Don’t let me or anyone else tell you what you want to do or what you SHOULD do. You just follow your bliss. And I will be right there. (With a painted face and some kind of jersey on if absolutely necessary. Again. I would prefer…cooking maybe?)
9. When you love, love with your whole heart. And yes. It could get broken. And yes. That shit is scary as hell. But I promise, you will appreciate this advice someday. I PROMISE.
10. Be honest. Just don’t lie, man. No one likes that. NO ONE LIKES THAT.
10.5. Just remember that your father and I love you. Just because you are you. That’s all we need from you.