motherhood

The Things I Want To Teach Her

Apparently I’m having a baby. I mean, I know I’m having a baby but you know sometimes it just sort of occurs to you like you maybe hadn’t really really realized it before? That comes in waves for me, this understanding that in a couple months I will be a mother of two. That I’ll be caring for an infant, recovering from a birth, and that MM will no longer be an only child. I’m still scared shitless that this is all a huge mistake – that MM won’t want to be a big brother, that I’ll be losing my first baby for this second one whom I know nothing about except that she definitely has a future has a soccer player if she’s interested.

They say a woman becomes a mother when she gets pregnant – that the maternal instinct is just there. I didn’t feel that way with my first pregnancy and I largely still don’t feel that way about my second. It wasn’t until that moment, holding him for the first time, that I really got it – that I felt that love and it was real. After that it held strong and fierce, surprising me with it’s strength, as I’m sure my love for BB will be. But right now, in this moment, I am just a pregnant mother of one. So it’s weird to think about my life in the not so distant future where I will be a mother of two – I’ll have a son and a daughter.

I wonder how raising a daughter will be different than raising a son. Raising MM has felt largely natural to me – I’ve grown accustomed to his man bits and his all boy personality (though terribly sweet) and I can’t imagine anything else even though anything else is coming soon. I think about the lessons I will have to teach my little daughter as she grows up – the lessons I learned and the ones I wish I’d learned sooner. They are different from the lessons I’ll want to teach MM because, well, boys and girls are different and they have different things they each need to learn. Not like math and science and English, but life.

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Things like, “Date less. Spend more time on non-romantic endeavors. Don’t stress out so much about, “Could this guy be the one?”” Because honestly when he is the one – you know – he does treat you right, there are no games, and while it’s not simple, it’s not rocket science either. There’s no need to search under every rock and stone – if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to after a long, tedious search for love. There’s a quote from Juno about love that I really really… love:

“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.”

-Mac McGuff from Juno

I remember talking to a friend of mine in college, who was already married. I asked him if he thought the boy I was dating would be The One (because married people are experts on these things) and what he said upset me at the time, but it was true. He said he didn’t think that guy was the one (he so wasn’t) because if I had to ask, then I hadn’t figured it out yet – that when you find the one, there is no more questioning. It’s “The End” but not in like a sad, depressing way, so much as, you just know. The dating scene is over, you won. That’s not the kind of thing that you can understand though if you haven’t experienced it. It causes me so much grief to see friends going through the scene – sticking with guys that don’t treat them well, under the premise that they could be the one, and what if this is meant to be, and “I think I might love him.” Because man I’ve been there. And looking at it from the other side of the game, if I could have just skipped way more than half of those failed relationships and done something else while I waited to meet Dan – I totally would have.

Things like sex. Lessons like, “Don’t give yourself away to make someone love you.” (Which if you’d told me I was doing that I’d have laughed and said, “I’m not that stupid.” But I did. And I was.) They say sex complicates things but that’s like a gross understatement. Once you get those three little letters involved in a relationship, everything gets harder. You become invested – your emotions for that person become tangled in that act that you shared, even if you didn’t intend for them to. And as a mom, I can’t help but add that having sex, no matter the precautions you take, is like saying, “I accept that a baby could result from this.” Because they do – whether you planned it or not – pregnancy happens. AIDS happens and that’s awful but pregnancy – man that’s huge. That’s life. If that guy that knocks you up doesn’t turn out to be the one, you still end up stuck with him forever – even if he isn’t physically present, the reminders are there. And when they are physically present – is that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s important. It happens.

And I mean, babies are wonderful – being a parent has been oh so rewarding. But it’s also hard – and it’s something that changes you forever. Your life is never just your own after that – you are responsible for the well being of another human and you will love them to an impossible degree, thinking about their needs and wants and happiness constantly, often more than you think of your own. It’s expensive and time consuming and all encompassing and there are no take backs. So sex is pretty huge – and it’s a pretty special thing – it’s like the biggest thing you can give someone – there’s nothing bigger than that kind of a commitment of yourself. Use it wisely.

And ohhhh body image. I don’t even know what lessons I will have to give on body image, lord knows I haven’t figured it all out. I know that society has crazy hard expectations about beauty and that you can become obsessed with perfection that isn’t real. That whole BMI thing – putting people in a little box of “should be” with no regard for their individual differences. People are not the same. They have different bodies, different diet needs, different things that work and don’t work. But they are all beautiful. Everyone is beautiful.

The important thing for me, that took me way too long to figure out – is more science than soul. It’s about what you eat, how much you eat, and what you are eating for. Activity level and why it’s important. That whole idea that the food you eat is not placed before you solely to please your palate (although it’s nice when it does). Food is the fuel your body needs to keep going – too little food or too much food leads to unhealthy outcomes. Calorie counting has helped me tremendously with this – the idea of turning it into math – this is what my body needs, this is what I am feeding it. It’s helped me so much during this pregnancy and I am so proud. And yeah I still over indulge sometimes – sometimes you need that treat – but that’s okay because calorie counting always works the next day or week when you are ready to get back on again.

Exercise is something else that I never really got until recently. Which is not to say that I’m good at it now – but that I kind of get why I should do it and how it helps. For me it’s as simple as, “Exercising more helps to make up for your indulgences. Exercise more and you can choose to eat more – or to lose more weight.” And also important is that the end goal should be realistic – it should be healthy – it should be, “I feel like I’m wearing my own skin again – I have energy to spare and I am happy.”

And no matter how much weight you lose, how short you cut your hair, what color you dye it, what clothes you wear – you will find that it will still and always be you under there. You can’t escape that – you’ll always be there. So you’d be better to learn to love you than spending a lot of time trying to change things that cannot be changed. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone for a new hair cut or color and been so disappointed that it was still me – just me with different hair, a different outfit. Still me. I think I spent my entire teen years trying to erase myself only to wake up one day and desperately want just me back. And realizing that was one of the coolest, healthiest things I’ve ever done.

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I don’t imagine that I’ll be able to just explain these things to her and that she’ll accept them – I know you have to learn those things on your own, but I hope that if she’s at least heard these things out loud that when she has the opportunity to get it, that she will and she’ll remember and it won’t feel so strange as it did for me, kind of figuring it out on my own. I never had that actual mother figure growing up. I had a strong web of women in my life, aunts and grandmothers and a string of step mothers, but it’s different. There are boundaries and there’s a lack of time. For the most part it was just me and my dad – who did an amazing job raising a sensible, smart girl (in my humble opinion) but you know you can’t answer every question even if you try – they might not hear you until they hear it for themselves.

I won’t be able to teach MM and BB everything – Even if I tell them verbatim all the things I’ve listed here, they still may not get it. And there will be things I’ll miss, that will seem so much more critically important to them because they will be their life lessons to learn – the things which will make all the difference. There will be things I get right and things I get wrong – things they get right and things they get wrong. And that’s fine. But if I could hand pick a couple lessons to pass on to Baby Blueberry and any other girls who haven’t figured this stuff out yet – those things up there would be the things I’d want to start with.

Then I’d put on some ultimate girl rock – an ego boost in a song – because girl power, that idea that YOU ARE AWESOME and deserving of the BEST – it’s not egotistical – most people no matter how confident they seem are not confident at least not all the time. People need an ego boost – a reminder that they rock. Because we forget. So after I spent hours or days or awkward minutes trying to express those things above to my little girl, I’d probably put on this song and be like, “This will explain everything.” And then she’d be like, “Mom you are so lame.” But seriously.

“Now That You Got It”
by Gwen Stefani

Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?

Now that I’m your baby the things you promised me now I want
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?
All the stars I was reachin’ for you had in the palm of your hand
& if for just once I would let the
padlock on the door be open
Well, dammit, just get on over here
This better be the best thing I ever felt
My days, they better be sunny
It better be nothing but all that I want

[CHORUS]
Now that I’m your baby, the things you promised me now I want
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
If I’m really your baby then share with me your secrets & all
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?

I’m the raddest queen of them all
I could have anyone, so what I want?
Perfect, get it right, never wrong
So you gonna step it up? Or you gonna be gone
Not like the rest (not this), nothing is typical (ain’t nothing is typical)
This is not a test (no test), this is a for sure (it’s all gotta be for sure)

[CHORUS]
Now that I’m your baby, the things you promised me now I want
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
If I’m really your baby then share with me your secrets & all
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?

(Yo Gwen whatcha make ’em do?)
Well, I’d train him like a marine corps
Boot, camp, make him like a superhero (yes ma’am)
That always better be his response
Or I don’t give a dog a bone
Attention! Show me your skeletons, let’s not play games
We can be closer than sharing last names (gimme my award)
The award is a purple heart, it could be yours
If you earn that medal, yeah you could be my boy

[CHORUS]
If I’m really your baby then share with me your secrets & all
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?
If I’m really your baby then share with me your secrets & all
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?

Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it? What you gonna do about it?
Now that you got it, what you gonna do about it?
What you gonna do about it? What you gonna do about it?

How about you?

  • What lessons do you hope to pass onto your children?
  • What have been the life defining ah-ha moments of realization in your life?
  • What is your ultimate Girl Power anthem (or Guy Power for any male readers)?
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7 thoughts on “The Things I Want To Teach Her”

  1. Great job explaining it all out. I think you’ve got it all covered. I would hang on to this one and give it to BB when the time is right.

  2. I’m so impressed w/ the depths to which you’ve thought things out. The great thing is that you will be an awesome mom to both kids @ once. Not one doubt about it!

  3. Those are wonderful lessons and ones I hope to teach my daughter too. I think body image is so important. I’m catching myself and what I say about my own self b/c I don’t want my daughter to start thinking that she’s not good enough.

  4. OMG! Awesome post. This is exactly how I’m feeling now. I am pregnant with my second and feel like sometimes I’m making a HUGE mistake. Thank you for this beautiful post.

    Oh! I found you from Heather of the EO. She rocks and so do you.

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