Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Raising a Daughter

This post is brought to you by Nine Lives, starring Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Garner.  Get it On Digital HD on 10/25 and on DVD and Blu-ray 11/01. Preorder now

 

Team Flicka just watched the movie Nine Lives – in which Kevin Spacey plays a busy dad with no time for his family – and we loved it. Long story short, Spacey learns some important lessons on fatherhood from the family cat, which got us wondering what kind of feline best embodies all the different parenting styles.

 

From the old-fashioned ‘stand back and turn ‘em loose’ parent to the ‘I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m trying my best’ parent (aka us), there are lots of ways to raise a kid. So we chose a cute cat for each type of parent, and turned them into a quiz! Take it to find out which cat best embodies your parenting style, then share it to find out which cat your friends and family get.

 

 

Once you find out which cat parent your Facebook friends most relate to, check out the movie to see Mr. Fuzzypants himself in action. Pre-order Nine Lives DVD and Blu-ray here 

Dear Rachel,

Next week you start middle school. Since you are the oldest, this is uncharted territory for all of us. Right now, you are excited about meeting new people, having new experiences, and gaining more independence. I am excited, too. It will be a new adventure and I am looking forward to watching you grow and bloom.

I will admit, though, that I am also more than a little scared. You see, I have heard lots of stories about kids – adolescents – making bad decisions, succumbing to peer pressure, using social media for inappropriate purposes, and trying to do grown up things like sexting and drugs far too soon. I’m sure you have heard some of these stories, too.

Part of me wants to think you are too smart and too good to fall into those traps. However, there is another part of me that refuses to be a naive parent who is blind to the truth.

We are currently standing at the bottom of a mountain – a mountain called adolescence and puberty and middle school and high school. We are preparing for the climb that will lead us to a peak with the most wonderful views and a fantastic sense of accomplishment. On our way there, though, as we climb to the top, I want you to remember these pieces of advice. I will do all that I can to remember them as well.

1. Work hard. Remember that school work comes first and everything else is secondary. That includes sports and friends and other hobbies. I don’t expect you to be perfect, but I do expect you to try your hardest every time. If you do, I will be proud, but you will be prouder.

2. Be brave. You are going to have so many new experiences. Some will be good. Some will not. When you face these challenges, be brave. Stand up for what you believe even if it makes you “uncool.” That will fade, but your courage will make a lasting impression.

3. Be yourself. You are unique and wonderful and just the way God intended you to be. Don’t ever change in an effort to “fit in.” If others cannot see how fantastic and remarkable you are, that is their loss – not yours.

4. Do what you know is right. When others are pressuring you to do something and your gut tells you not to – LISTEN! We have tried our best to teach you what is right and what is wrong. You will know it in your heart. You just have to follow your instincts.

5. Get organized. School and life are only going to get harder and busier and more complicated from here on out. Get organized now. Learn how to manage your time. Don’t procrastinate. These are habits that will help you in middle school, in high school, in whatever career you choose, and in life for a long time to come.

6. Be kind. Adolescence can be tough and awkward and uncomfortable. Remember that everyone is struggling with something. Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Even when it’s not popular, be compassionate and courteous.

7. Be confident. You are awesome. Don’t ever forget that. You can do anything you set your mind to. You will change the world – I’m sure of it.
Surround yourself with the right kind of people. There is an old saying (that I heard many times from Memaw and Paw) that says something like “you are no better than the company you keep.” If others are mean or deceitful or immoral or if they try to change you, then they are not the kind of people with whom you should spend time. Rise above them.

8. Remember that we will always love you. Daddy and I are here for you anytime you need us and there is nothing you can say or do that will make us stop loving you. If you have questions, we will find answers. If you are unsure how to handle a situation, we will gladly give you guidance. If your heart is breaking, we will dry your tears. If you have made a mistake, we will help you amend it. If you are about to explode with joy, we will share your happiness. All you have to do is come to us. We are NEVER too busy for you and your “problems” are NEVER too small or too big. All you have to do is talk. We will listen. I promise.

9. Have fun. You are on the brink of learning so much and experiencing so much. It won’t all be easy going – there will be bumps in the road. But, despite the bumps, there will also be lots to enjoy. Smile. Laugh. Make new friends. Soak it in. Enjoy this stage in your life. Believe me, it will go by faster than you can believe!

This post was originally featured on Lisa’s blog, The Golden Spoons. Photo via

In the 1980’s, there were only three female role models —Chrissy from Three’s Company, Daisy from The Dukes of Hazzard, and Bea Arthur. That was it.

I remember lying in bed at night wondering who I would grow up to be. A ditzy blonde, a trailer park slut, or a Golden Girl? I’m exaggerating, of course. There was also Janet, the brunette, slightly more intelligent alter-ego of Chrissy. But no one wanted to be Janet. Yes, she was smart and plucky, but even at seven, I knew she wasn’t fooling anyone with her Ringo haircut and so called “career” in the floral industry. She was going nowhere fast.

There were a few others; Laverne & Shirley, aka Clumsy & Asexual, Cagney & Lacey, whose palpable sexual attraction to one another was the only mystery they couldn’t solve, and the Facts of Life girls whose first-world problems made them entitled and therefore unlikeable— with riveting plot lines like:

1. Tootie needs new roller skates.

2. Blair dyes her blonde hair green.

3. And who could forget the groundbreaking episode when Natalie made television history by losing her virginity to a boy named Snake? PS. Not one of her so-called friends explained the lifetime implications of losing one’s virginity to a boy named Snake. Really, not even Mrs. Garrett caught that? Snake. Come on Garrett, we know you had a few “Snakes” in your day.

I learned at an early age that women weren’t considered funny in the mainstream, unless they were the butt of the joke, or a sexy distraction to the joke. My generation lacked a voice that wasn’t attached to a Thigh Master, Daisy Dukes or Floridian muumuu.

Fast forward thirty years and enter Amy Schumer. Her show Inside Amy Schumer is a collage of skits, interviews, stand-up, and star-studded reenactments of movies like 12 Angry Men, and a Charlie Chaplinesque film about the porn industry. But this is a better way to describe her: Had the SNL women of the 1970’s — Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, and Lorraine Newman created a show called Jane you Ignorant Slut and Friends, and that show gave birth to a love-child, her name would be Amy Schumer.

Schumer has sprung from funny girl to “it” girl in the last month. And old mamas like me, who grew up in the 80’s where “funny” was Charo and Phyllis Diller, are jumping for joy, shouting, “Finally!”

It’s not just about being funny. Schumer pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a woman, what’s acceptable, and more significantly, what’s not. She broaches hot-button gender topics through humor like the Trojan Horse of Feminism. By the time you get the point, you’re laughing so hard, you don’t care who invaded your toga party.

In one sketch entitled “Compliments,” several women congregate on the street, congratulating one another on personal successes— a job promotion, a pregnancy, weight loss. Immediately after being given a compliment, each woman explains how she is unworthy of accolades, followed by a communal sigh of relief when the compliment is deflected back into self-hatred. A compliment about a new hair color is met with, “Oh please, I tried to look like Kate Hudson, but ended up looking like a Golden Retriever’s dingleberry.”

The exact moment I began to feel that Schumer’s “self deprecating schtick” was becoming a schtick, she started making fun of women making fun of themselves to make those around them feel okay. Because it’s not okay for a woman to accept a compliment—to acknowledge that she is beautiful or smart, deserves a promotion, baby, or successful relationship. Women have to be all things, but when acknowledged for it, pretend they look like a Golden Retriever’s dingleberry.

It’s not even okay for Amy Schumer to be Amy Schumer. A large portion of her stand-up routine is about how unattractive she is (which is grossly untrue). She’s beautiful—not Chrissy Teigen beautiful, more Nellie from Little House on the Prairie meets Missy Gold from Benson beautiful. But still beautiful.

If Schumer embraced her own success without pretending like she doesn’t deserve it, US Weekly would immediately feature an article entitled, “The Downfall of Funny,” next to a photo of Schumer mid-blink, holding a vodka, with a closeup of her back fat and cellulite (red circles and arrows highlighting all visible flaws). The article would feature quips like, “She Says She’s a Size 6, but Our Experts Say More Like 16!,” or “Funny but Infertile—Schumer Pines for a Baby, Even an Ugly One,” or a swimsuit photo entitled, “A Punchline to the Gut!”

The brilliance of Schumer is that she engages in the f-word (feminism) without confrontation. Even the most staunch misogynist hasn’t time to react before she takes the skit to a ridiculous level that melts any serious discord into laughter.

In one episode, Schumer is part of a panel of women being interviewed, but no questions are actually asked because the women are too busy apologizing —apologizing for asking questions, apologizing for standing up, for sitting down, apologizing for apologizing, apologizing for wanting a glass of water. And just as you’re about to say, “Enough already, women apologize a lot!,” a scorching cup of coffee is spilled on the lap of one of the panelists, and as her bloody legs bubble up with burns, she says, “Oh, sorry.”

She’s proving that not only are women funny (and always have been) but humor is the best and possibly only way to challenge gender roles, equality and the sexual objectification of women.

At the risk of Child Protective Services being summoned to my house, I let my nine-year-old daughter watch Schumer’s sketch entitled, “Milk, Milk, Lemonade.” It’s a satire on the playground jingle, “Milk milk, lemonade, round the corner fudge is made.” While saying the rhyme, the person points from each nipple, to their vagina and to their butt. It’s hilarious—when you’re nine.

Schumer takes this silly children’s rhyme and creates a music video with hip-hop lyrics, reminiscent of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s video, “I Like Big Butts.” It pokes fun (literally) at how the male fascination with big butts is as silly as a child’s playground rhyme because, “This is where the poo comes out.”

When I was in sixth grade, my girlfriends and I memorized and reenacted the video, “I Like Big Butts.” To this day, a white girl from Iowa, I can recite the entire song and most of the dance moves.

“I like big butts and I cannot lie, you other brothers can’t deny, when a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist and a round thing in your face you get sprung.”

At this point in our dance, my girlfriends and I would lurch our prepubescent bodies forward completely unaware that “sprung” was code for erection. In my mother’s defense, she had no idea we were watching this. We didn’t have cable. But our friends did.

As a mother, I cannot protect my daughter from a culture that says women must not only be intelligent, funny, successful, sexy, laid-back, non-confrontational, stylish, witty, but also have some junk in the trunk. As much as I prepare her with mother-daughter talks about how the women in magazines are so airbrushed, they are actually more air than ink, I can’t reshape reality. The rules have been written and they are ingrained in my daughter’s brain every time we drive by a billboard with models dressed in lingerie and angel wings (because that’s what I wear to bed), or watch cartoons where the heroine is powerful, but also well-endowed, with a tiny waist, and huge, dumb, doe eyes.

I can’t protect my daughter from the reality, but I can show her how smart, funny women are mocking that reality. And funny is power.

In sixth grade, we didn’t have a role model who challenged the lunacy of men worshipping big booties, while eleven-year-old girls twerked at a slumber party like a perverse Macarena. That was normal. But for my daughter’s generation, normal will be the sarcasm that comes after.

Amy Schumer breaks the mold, and embodies the concept that making fun of reality is the only way to change it.And that is what I want for my daughter, a do over—a time where funny girls rule, where sexy is knowing who you are, and what you want. Where women are judged by the size of their intellect, and not the size of their butt.

Because that is where your poo comes out.

I recently finished reading a book written by Alexandra Stoddard called “Things I Want My Daughters To Know.”    I originally picked up the book because, having three daughters, I feel a huge responsibility to teach them everything they need to know to become successful women since I am their primary female role model.  I will take any advice or help I can get!  In the book, Stoddard lists about 55 “life lessons” she hopes to have imparted to her two daughters.  Some of the pearls I agreed with; some I did not.  However, it got my “wheels turning” as I thought about all the lessons I want to teach my own daughters.  So – you guessed it – I came up with a list.  (Not to worry – there are nowhere near 55 items on my list.)  Here are the top 20 things I hope my daughters will learn from me as they grow and mature into beautiful women, professionals, wives, and mothers.

1)  Appreciate your history.  

Unlike the good ol’ portrayal of the stork with a baby in a sack, you were not just randomly dropped on this earth.  You came from somewhere; you came from someone.  Be proud of that and cherish it. Professional acquaintances come and go.  Friends come and go.  Family is constant.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements or differences, but family is family – you are tied to them forever.  Appreciate them.  Love them.  Stay connected to them.  Always.  When everyone else disappears, they will still be there.

2)  Be a Lady.  

This one is about how you present yourself to others.  (And it is not just a Southern thing – at least it shouldn’t be!)  You never know who is taking notice of you.  Therefore, always present yourself in a way that is appropriate.   Don’t take part in gossip or ridiculing others.  You shouldn’t compromise who you are in an effort to “fit in.”  Don’t do something you know is wrong just because “everyone else does it.”  All of this sends the message that you do not respect yourself.  If you do not respect yourself, neither will anyone else!

3)  Be Confident in Yourself.  

This is one with which I struggle to be a good role model.  I worry about my weight, my clothes, my housekeeping and my cooking skills.  I often lose sight of what it says in Psalm 139:13-16 – “. . You knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . ”  As the old saying goes, “God don’t make no junk!!”  I was made by God; you were made by God.  Therefore, we are perfect.  Your curly hair, your freckles, your crazy energy, your wittiness, your laugh – everything about you is wonderful and perfect.  Never doubt the beauty God has created in you!

READ MORE: Lessons I Learned In My Dad’s Taxi Cab

4)  Do What Makes You Happy.  

If you want to play sports, play sports.  If you want to play music, play music.  If you want to be a doctor, study hard and be a doctor.  If you want to be a teacher, give it your all and be a great teacher.  Do what makes YOU happy – not what all your friends are doing; not what will earn you the biggest salary.  Friends and money are worthless if you are miserable.  Do what makes YOU happy; what brings you joy.  You will receive rewards much greater than money or fame.

5)  Be Financially Responsible.  

Money is never constant.  Sometimes you will have more; sometimes you will have less.  Often, it takes a long time to recover from mistakes you make with your money.  As they say, money is a necessary evil – you must have some of it to survive in this world.  While money does not buy happiness, mismanagement of your finances can lead to stress and strife.  Learn to create a budget and stick to it – regardless of how much money you have (or don’t have).  Learn the difference between what you want and what you need.  You will save yourself lots of turmoil and worry if you learn how to be responsible with your finances.

6)  Keep Order in Your Life.  

As you probably know, I am a little fanatic when it comes to organization.  There is a reason for that.  I have learned that keeping order in my life makes things easier in the long run.  It is easier to run out the door in a hurry if you know where to find your shoes and your purse.  It is easier to pack for an unexpected trip if most of your laundry is clean.  It is easier to entertain unexpected guests if you have a clean house and a stocked pantry.  It is easier to get children to bed if you follow a predictable schedule.  Keeping order to begin with will keep you from stressing and scrambling later.

7)  Laugh.  

This is something your father has taught me a lot about.  When you laugh, you can’t help but feel good.  Some of my best memories of your childhoods, so far, are of times when we laughed together or times when you made me laugh until I cried.  Laughter will help you get through the tough times, too.  Bill Cosby said, “You can turn painful situations around through laughter.  If you can find humor in anything then you can survive it.”  Keep laughter in your life – it is good for your soul!

8)  Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself.  

As women, we are often expected to take care of others.  That is impossible if you don’t first take care of yourself.  Once in a while, buy yourself something new even if you don’t really need it; get a manicure; take a nap.  Never feel guilty for taking a moment to “recharge your own batteries.”

9)  Follow Through.  

Finish what you start and keep your commitments.  What’s the point of reading a book if you skip the last chapter??  Finish the book.  Finish the project.  You may discover it’s an activity that you do not want to do again, but finish anyway.  When you tell people you will do something, you must follow through and keep your commitment – someone is counting on you; don’t let them down.  If you do, they will learn that you cannot be trusted.  Only under extreme or emergency circumstances is it ever acceptable to break your promises.

10)  Do Not Wish Your Life Away.  

While you are a child, enjoy the lack of responsibilities; enjoy the carefree nature of things.  Don’t spend it wishing to grow up faster.  When you are young and single, travel; enjoy spending time with friends; enjoy being independent and free.  There is no need to spend your time fretting about when you will meet “Mr. Right” or when your life will become bigger and better.  It will happen – be patient.  Take time to enjoy being a wife – just a wife.  Your time as a mother will come.  When you are a mother, enjoy your children.  Don’t wish for them to grow up faster – it will happen soon enough.  Each stage of your life is a unique gift.  Be wise enough to recognize the beauty of each stage and enjoy it while you can – it will not last.

READ MORE: Dear 16 Year Olds: Life Is Harsh And 5 Other Things You Need To Know

11)   Be Strong.  Be brave.  

As much as I would like to, I cannot shelter you from bad things in life.  You will experience failure.  You will experience loss and sorrow.  You will experience disappointment.  When you do, it is o.k. to cry.  It is necessary to grieve.  However, you cannot let the bad times define you.  Be strong and be brave.  Face the obstacles head-on.  Learn from the tough times and find a way to move forward.  When you come out on the other side, you will be proud of yourself and you will appreciate the beauty of the good times even more.

12)  Know your limitations.  

Superman is a mythical character.  No man (or woman) can do everything.  You have God-given talents.  You also have God-given limitations.  This is why one of my favorite prayers is the Serenity Prayer.  It says “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”  If you are not artistically inclined, you can change that by learning new skills, but do not expect to paint a masterpiece right out of the gates.  If you are only 5’3″, do not expect to be the star center on the girl’s basketball team.  You cannot change your height.   You should most definitely expect greatness from yourself and set high goals, but sometimes you must be realistic and adjust your goals to fit your skills, talents, and physical abilities.  Everyone has a certain amount of time and energy as well.  Do not commit to so many things that you end up running out of time or energy before you are able to complete the tasks.  Also remember that there is no shame in asking for help.  It is not a sign of weakness.  On the contrary, it shows that you are self-aware and realistic.

13)  Learn to Cook.  

It doesn’t have to be gourmet and it is not necessary to do it every day, but being able to prepare a meal for yourself, your guests, your family, or a friend experiencing hard times will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride.  By preparing meals yourself, you can be more healthy and more frugal.  You can experiment with tastes and textures.  You can adjust recipes to your own personal liking (or the liking of those you are serving).  Food is everywhere in our lives.  Learn to enjoy the creative opportunities it offers.

14)  Proofread!  

There are few things I can think of more frustrating that turning in a paper, sending an email, or posting a blog only to realize later that you made very basic mistakes.  It is also quite annoying to receive a letter or an email and see that the person who sent it didn’t take the time or put forth the effort to write it properly.  It shows laziness and apathy.  Proofreading is simple and doesn’t take much time, so do it.  Then, do it again.  The more important the document you are writing, the more times you should proofread it or have someone else proofread it.

15)  Learn Proper Grammar.  

Learn when to use I or me; when to use he/she vs. him/her; the difference between there, their, and they’re; the difference between your and you’re; the difference between it’s and its.  Don’t end sentences with a preposition (i.e. Where is he at? = nails on chalkboard).  Don’t start sentences with conjunctions like but or and (these words are meant to join things, not begin things).  The rules of grammar are not terribly complicated and will eventually become natural if you practice them regularly.   Using proper grammar (and spelling) is an indication that you have paid attention to details.  It shows that you are intelligent and educated.  (If you are ever unsure ask Memaw!!)

16)  Present Solutions, Not Just Problems.  

There is nothing wrong with speaking up when there are problems that need to be addressed whether it is in your job, in your home, or in your relationships.  However, do not just complain and whine.  State what you see as a problem and then present a solution.  Your solution may not be utilized in the end, but being able to present one shows that you have carefully considered the situation.  It proves to others that you are not just complaining, but that you are trying to help solve the problem.  Your “complaints” will get more attention and respect if you can be helpful in reaching a resolution.

17)  Surround yourself with good people.  

You cannot choose your family, but if they bring you joy and peace, embrace them.  Turn to them in times of need or anxiety – big or small – and they will give you the insight and comfort that you need.  You can choose your friends, so choose wisely.  Surround yourself with positive, supportive, intelligent, morally ethical people with whom you share a mutual respect.  Choose friends who see your beauty (inside and out) and who make you a better, happier person by bringing you joy, laughter, insight, and peace.  (Remember, too, that your eventual husband should be your absolute best friend.  If he is not a good friend he will not be a good husband.  He should bring you joy and peace as well as romance and love!)

18)  Stand up for your beliefs. 

If you are liberal, be liberal.  If you are conservative, be conservative.  Once you have chosen a stance, stick with it.  Don’t be wishy washy and change your opinion to please someone else or to avoid confrontation.  That shows others that your are weak and easily influenced.  No matter which side you take on any issue, be educated and be able to intelligently defend your position.  Don’t be afraid to speak out – in an intelligent, ethical manner – to defend your cause.  If you are educated about the topic and can express your thoughts clearly, people will respect your opinion even if they disagree.

19) Use Common Sense.

As the old saying goes, “common sense is not that common.”  It is a simple rule, but one that many people fail to follow.  If something seems like a bad idea, you probably shouldn’t do it.  Common sense.  If certain people or activities make you unhappy, stay away from them.  Common sense.  When trying to solve a problem, don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be.  Common sense.  You are all wonderfully smart, intelligent girls, but intelligence cannot be substituted for common sense!

20) Have Faith. 

Faith in God.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in people.  Faith in humankind.  Bad things happen.  During your life, you will experience sadness and anger and fear and loneliness.  If I could protect you from it all, I would do so without hesitation.  But, I can’t.  When you face adversity, remember that there is always good in people and there is so much good in the world.  Find it.  Hold onto it.  Have faith that, eventually, the good will always overcome.

Girls,
As I read back over these, it is painfully evident that I am not perfect.  Although I try, I don’t do all these things all the time.  However, I think I do them more often than not.  Some of these pearls I have learned the hard way. Some I am thankful to have learned from my parents.  Some I have learned form others or just from experience.  I know there are things you will eventually add to your own list of “Life’s Rules,” but I hope this gives you a good start and a solid foundation.  Above all else, remember that you are loved more than you will ever know – by me, by your Daddy, by your family, and by God.  I pray that love will give you the strength and courage to be the best person you can be – always.  

This post was originally featured on Lisa’s blog, The Golden Spoons. Photo via.

My eleven-month old daughter is a reacher.

She reaches for her favorite book.

She reaches to stand up.

She reaches for outlets and cell phones and electrical cords.

It doesn’t matter whether the item is forbidden or not, my little girl wants to reach for it, explore it, know everything about it. Words like, “patience,” and phrases like, “stop and smell the roses” mean nothing to her.

It’s almost like she has a reaching reflex.

In fact, sometimes I think she doesn’t even know why she’s reaching. It’s like she just points in some direction, and at the end of her finger is a random item and yes, that’s it, that’s the thing she cannot possibly live another moment without.

“I see that….that….that…that piece of junkmail. I must have that piece of junkmail! I must have it immediately!”

Now reaching is generally a wonderful quality. I’m certain it will lead my daughter to great discoveries in life, because reachers are passionate and curious and unstoppable. But reaching is only as good as the thing that’s being sought—it’s one thing to reach for a book and another to reach for a sizzling pan.

And I know what I mean when I say that, because if I’m honest with you, I’m a reacher myself. I have been for as long as I can remember. And it’s brought some wonderful things my way—a solid education; great professional opportunities; a terrific spouse.

But like my daughter, sometimes I reach for the adult equivalent of an electrical outlet or junkmail. Sometimes I don’t need the things I’m reaching for. Sometimes they’re not good for me. Sometimes I’m reaching just to reach.

And reaching just to reach is about as good for me as it is for my little girl.

So as I watched my daughter stick her hand out towards a heating vent the other day, I thought, “There’s a lesson for both of us here, a lesson about letting go.”
I need to let go of reaching for the sake of reaching because I don’t want to reach indiscriminately. I want to reach for the things that matter. I want to reach for love, for goodness, for the all that makes me and my community whole.

I’m not quite sure how I’m going to accomplish this, especially since the instinct to reach is about as reflexive for me as it is for my little girl. But I’m pretty sure it starts with some awareness. So from now on, every time I find myself reaching, I’m going to stop and ask, “Why am I reaching for X?”

Is it out of jealousy?

Fear?

Love?

I’m making this choice not just for myself; I’m also making it for my little girl. She’s not old enough to choose what she reaches for, so I want her to see reaching modeled well. I want her to see the good that comes from healthy ambition, from fighting for your beliefs, from questing for a dream, from loving with every bit of your heart and soul. But there are also some things that aren’t worth the reach, and I want her to know that too.

Becoming who I’m intended to be starts with my choices. It starts with what I choose to seek in life, and if I reach for the wrong things, I’ll lose myself. So I’m letting go of reaching for the stuff that isn’t worth it and choosing the things that are.

From now on, I’ll be trying to reach in the right direction.

And hopefully my little girl will as well.

Photo via tulips & flightsuits

Dear Daughter,

I have a decade before you’ll leave the nest. Ten years is forever to you, but a quick breeze to me. Before it flies by, here’s my advice.

Take it seriously. Take it with a grain of salt.

1.) Contrary to what I may have said during Family Game Night, there are no rules. Ignore people who tell you there is only one way to achieve your goals. Figure out your own means of finding happiness. Also, your dad and I totally saw you cheat at Chutes & Ladders.

READ MORE: Things Nobody Should Ever Say To Moms

2.) I never did figure out how to install the batteries in your Disney Princess Castle. You likely inherited my lack of mechanical skills. If so, make friends with a mechanic. I said friends, that doesn’t mean you have to sleep with said mechanic.

3.) Remember that time you hid in the bathroom to eat chocolate you’d smuggled? Limit and manage your vices. You may have noticed over the years that I (ahem) frequently enjoy my wine. But you may have also noticed that I don’t eat fast food, don’t smoke (anymore), and I don’t drink and drive. Limit and manage. Also, you may not choose heroin as one of your vices.

READ MORE: Time Is Not On My Side

4.) Like me, you’ve always been treat-motivated. We’re like Labradors in that respect. This can be problematic. Find a physical activity to fall in love with. Suggestions: running, hot yoga, soccer. If you choose hot yoga, be warned: you will probably fart in front of your fellow yoga practitioners at some point. It’s not the end of the world. Do not choose sleeping around as your preferred physical activity. Also, don’t swim in the ocean. If you do swim in the ocean, then I’ve completely failed in instilling in you an irrational fear of sharks.

5.) At the age of five you lamented how long it would take until you could have a baby of your own. But really, thirty years isn’t that long. Stay on birth control until you’re thirty.

6.) The teens and twenties were, hands down, the most difficult times of my life. It’s confusing, emotional, and stressful. Try to have fun. If you’re feeling down, call me. I’ll play hooky and we’ll go to lunch and a movie.

READ MORE: So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You

7.) It’s important to be kind. But you’ve always known that and you certainly don’t need me to tell you now. Thank you for teaching this one to me.

8.) At your birthday parties over the years, I’ve hired clowns, painted faces, baked cupcakes, and wrapped towers of presents. My birthday is September 22nd. Don’t you forget it.

9.) You told me that you never wanted to get married because you don’t know how to dance. It’s okay to change your mind. Your dad is a phenomenal dancer; he’ll teach you.

10.) If you get a tattoo, please let me come with you. Trust me; I have experience. It is the only type of parlor in which I actually know what I’m doing.

11.) When you were little, you humped a pool noodle at a party and told the hosts how good it felt on your pee-pee. Don’t lose that ability to speak your truth.

12.) My father once told me that as he aged, he realized the world was very black and white, composed of good and evil. I want to tell you the complete opposite. The world is gray, a million (not fifty) shades of beautiful gray. Good and evil are not so easily separated. You’ll have to decide for yourself how you want to see the world, but I hope that even if you do see it in black and white, you’ll stumble on a rainbow every now and then. Without the assistance of psychedelic drugs.

Take my words as lightly or as seriously as you choose. Take care in the world. Or come home for care when you need to.

Love,
Mom

Photo via