I was convinced my youngest son was going to be a girl. I checked out a book from the library two days after I found out I was pregnant with him, and I found a bookmark stuck inside it with Olivia written on it. That was the girl name I had picked out before I ever had children. So of course, I thought it was a sign.
Lo and behold, Jax popped up on that ultrasound screen and he was very much a boy. When I saw him, I cried and felt so guilty that I’d been hoping for a girl. (If you think I’m emotional now, you should’ve met pregnant me.) I wouldn’t trade that kid for ten little girls, or all the money in the world. I have no doubt whatsoever that I was meant to be the mother of two boys. Those little dudes have my heart.
I used to think that maybe someday down the road, we'd want to try again for a girl. Jeremy and I have even talked about adopting a daughter. Time (and potty training) have all but squelched those distant possibilities. Not that we wouldn't still consider it, but we don’t feel like it’s something we're missing. I’m very content with my family just as it is.
I have several friends who have teenage daughters. As I witness their trials, I sit back and silently thank God that it’s them and not me. One of my friends has a daughter who is the constant victim of mean girls. Another has a daughter who has been repeatedly jerked around by a jackass seventeen-year-old boy. Both of these women are wonderful mothers, and their daughters' struggles break my heart. I cringe when I think about my beautiful nieces experiencing these things someday. I’ve thought about it a lot lately and have reflected upon the mistakes I made and the things I wish I’d learned sooner; so I’ve compiled a dos and don’ts list for the daughter that I don’t have. Yet. Who knows what the future holds?
1. Do BE CONFIDENT.
I don’t think I was confident until a few years ago. I struggled my whole life with feeling inferior. I didn’t really have a reason to be that way; I was loved, I had friends, I didn’t have an extra appendage or anything. I just wasn’t confident and didn’t know how to be. Through the years, I learned that people only take you as seriously as you take yourself. Put on a smile, stand up tall, and know that you have something positive to offer the world. Things will be so much easier when you settle into that mindset.
Note: This is not to be confused with overconfident. Nobody likes an ice-princess who rests high above everyone else on her self-imposed pedestal. Those are the bitches that will end up miserable and alone.
2. Don’t BE A MEAN GIRL.
I know this is broad, but it’s really as simple as just being kind, considerate, and empathetic. Everyone (with the exception of the extremely mentally ill) has an inner voice that speaks up when something you say or do or think is unkind. I’ve been the victim of mean girls, and it sucks. But no matter how much they piss you off, do not stoop to their level. Brush it off and stand tall (see #1). If you sink to their level, you’re no better than they are. I’ve also had mean girl moments myself. I can promise you that those moments never got me anywhere. If anything, they just made people lose respect for me. Fortunately, my inner voice is loud and squawky so I don’t ignore it now.
3. Do VALUE YOUR FEMALE FRIENDS.
I’m ashamed that I was almost 30 before I realized how important this is. I had female friends growing up, but very few that I trusted. I constantly compared myself to them and resented their successes rather than celebrating them. Completely ridiculous, I know. Your female friends will sometimes understand things that nobody else will. Mama B. (my bff’s mother) recently said to me, “If you are older than 25 years old, and you don’t have at least 3 female friends who would take a bullet for you, then there is something seriously f’d up inside you.” I laughed when she said it- because Mama B. is hilarious- but she is so right. Cherish those friendships. Build up the women in your life. Be their cheerleader. You are going to need them.
4. Don’t BE FAKE.
This goes along with number 3. There’s a fine line between building up and being insincere. Does this mean that you should tell your BFF that her ass looks fat in that dress if it does? No. It means that you should tell her that her hair looks beautiful instead. And if she specifically asks you if it makes her butt look big- then drag her to your closet and offer to let her borrow something else that you just KNOW is going to look even better on her. Tact is invaluable and goes hand in hand with sincerity.
5. Don’t PLAY THE DITZ.
I can’t tell you how many cute boys asked to copy my homework in high school. It used to drive me insane. I could think of plenty of things I wanted them to ask me- but copying my homework was not one of them. So I got the idea right before I went to my first college class that I was going to play the ditz, because the girls who actually were a little ditzy seemed to get all the boys. I had this warped idea that letting them know I was smart would kill my chances. But the boys who are drawn to that? Morons. Dumber than a bag of hammers. And they will still want to copy your homework. Lesson learned, believe me. I dropped the act rather quickly.
6. Do READ.
Read anything and everything. Immerse yourself in books and learn as much as you can. Embrace your brain. Even though boys will want to copy your homework when they realize your brain is as big as your boobs, don’t fret. Those same boys will be your subordinates at work someday. They aren’t the ones you’ll be married to. The boy you'll marry did his own damned homework.
7. Don’t IDOLIZE CELEBRITIES.
Celebrities are just like you and me, except they’re under the constant scrutiny of spotlight. Watch them long enough and they’ll do something very humanly disappointing. Even the most wholesome celebrities can flip their psycho switch at any time and shock everyone (ahem, Miley). Be your own celebrity. Set a goal and chase it.
8. Do FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS.
Notice that I said your dreams. Other people will tell you what they think you should be. Parents are the worst at imposing these kinds of expectations. I fell into the trap myself. I think I only became a nurse because, somewhere along the way, someone put it in my head that it was expected of me. So I did it- even though it took me many years to go back and finish. I graduated at the top of my class. I did my job and I did it well. I loved my patients and my co-workers. But I wasn’t happy, because it was never what I wanted to do. So at 31 years old, I finally got the guts to say that out loud and pursue my dreams. Don’t make the mistake I did; pursue your dreams now. Don’t take no for an answer. Do what makes you happy because it is your life. Nobody can live it but you.
9. Don’t SWEAT THE BOY WHO BREAKS YOUR HEART WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG.
Trust me honey, in fifteen years, he’s gonna be a trailer park train wreck and you’ll be thanking God you dodged that bullet. I could post the picture (read: mugshot) of the boy whose ass I was convinced was the rising and setting point of the sun and you would all laugh and laugh. But I won’t do that, because I’m not a mean girl.
Of all the couples I know who were together in high school- only ONE made it to marriage and are still together now. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you are that one couple. You most likely aren’t. And as you will learn in high school, statistics do mean something.
10. Do LOVE YOURSELF.
Not just emotionally, but physically, too. That’s right! I said it. Do that instead of having sex before you’re ready, with some little dumbass who is too young and clueless to make it anything other than a nightmarish experience. While he is acutely aware of his own body, and intimately acquainted with it- he has no idea how to touch yours. Thank goodness I waited until I was 19 to make that mistake, but it was still a big one. (Mistake, that is. The penis was small.)
So unless you want to be poked and prodded and manhandled by sweaty, confused fingers who couldn’t find your special button if it had a red flashing light on it, just don’t. Seriously- don’t. By the time you meet the man you’re supposed to be with, he will either have A) saved himself for you and be patient and intuitive enough not to make it horrible or B) have already poked and prodded enough other girls (who didn’t love themselves enough) that he’ll finally know what he’s doing.
Now that I read back over these, I wonder if this is why God gave me boys. Maybe he knew that I would never really be able to say these things to my daughter. Or maybe I would, and it would scar her for life. Or maybe it wouldn’t, and she would be as wise at 15 as I am at 32.