The First Boy

It feels appropriate to re-post this, as it seems that first boy might be imminent…

To the boy who will love my daughter first:

Young man –  you will be her first love.  Make it good. She will remember you her entire life, sometimes fondly, sometimes with hurt or anger. Give her more reasons to recall you with kindness and nostalgia. In other words, don’t screw it up. Don’t screw it up for every other boy who will follow you, for while you will be her first, you very likely won’t be her last.

Take your time, and give her time. She is just figuring out who she is, her place in the world. That’s a scary thing, but more terrifying is someone trying to define that for her, or take it away from her. Don’t try to command her friendships, do support her time with her friends. She will be a better, more whole person for it. Don’t try to be her everything – that’s not what she’s looking for.  The harder you chase, the more quickly she may run.

No one besides family has loved her before.  The idea of someone who doesn’t have to care about her caring about her is difficult to trust. She may doubt, she may wonder why you care, she may not believe you really care. Be consistent but not overwhelming.  If you remain calm, she may come to believe it. In the meantime, there might be a dance of moving forwards and backwards. Trust me, she’s worth the wait if you’re willing to be patient.

She has priorities……School first, then family, then dance and cheer. You come in somewhere after that. Don’t attempt to mess  up that order. You’ll hear from us if you do. And she will probably set you straight before we even have to step in.  She’s kinda tough-minded that way.  She has big plans for her life, and if she feels like you might try to sway her from those plans, you’ll likely be shown the door. Heaven help you if you start shifting your plans for your life – kiss of death right there.

The heart is easily broken, so that first relationship is the most difficult, mostly due to fear of how it will end, and how you will deal with heartbreak. One of you will hurt the other. Most likely, you will hurt each other. There’s a lot of angst involved in that first love. There’s a lot of learning involved in that first love.

If you play your cards right, you’ll both learn, love, and grow, and someday, she will find all the notes you’ve written each other, come across an old photo or the first gift you ever gave her, and she will smile fondly in remembrance of her first love.


First and Last

Do you remember your first love? Do you remember how much you had invested in that relationship? Do you remember what it was like to have a crush on someone in high school? The “Oh my god, what if he doesn’t notice I’m alive? Oh my god, what if he Does? Oh my god, what if he doesn’t talk to me? OH MY GOD,WHAT IF HE DOES? What will I do if he asks me to dance? What will I do if he actually asks me out. OH MY GOD HE’S WALKING THIS WAY!” Yeah, that. Lucky thing school came relatively easy to me because I spent an inordinate amount of time dissecting my days, dissecting my friends’ days with my friends….who talked to whom, who didn’t talk to whom, who said he said he liked who, who passed on what rumor, and so on….Do you remember your heart pounding and your stomach fluttering when you knew you would pass him in the hallway between classes? Do you remember your stuttered, clumsy talking when you sat next to him in class?

I remember all of those things so well. But here I am on my  last love…..a love I’ve been with for nearly 21 years. I’m with my last love, watching our teens going through all the drama of all those firsts….how every little event is so HUGE for them. We have the experience. We have the wisdom. We have the longevity.  We have the memories. It’s so interesting to be on this side. We see the bigger picture, because, well, we’ve lived it. Every minute, every minute happening doesn’t mean everything to us. But we have been there.

Truly, my heart aches for the heartaches they will endure, and endure them they must. That’s just part of life….the unrequited crushes, the beginnings and ends, the breakups, the broken dreams, the fears, the insecurities. But I’m also excited for their excitement, for their new experiences, for them realizing that someone who doesn’t have to will love them.

There are times I would they could skip all that – just go on being and have their first be their last, years and years from now.  I remember how all those endings felt – how I literally felt my heart would fall out of my chest, broken and bruised, how hard it was just to breath much less go on with life as if nothing momentous had happened, how the mere sight of him hundreds of yards away would throw me right back to my room and my already-soaked pillow, how unworthy I felt, how hard a hit my self-confidence took each time. I remember hating myself for causing pain to anyone when I was the one to end things.

I knew my last love was waiting for me. I knew each of those other loves was preparing me for this love.  My hope is my children learn that lesson, have that outlook.  My hope is that each first brings them closer to their last.

Thanks, Taylor

I took the Princess to the Taylor Swift concert Saturday night. I really didn’t want to go, but purely for logistical reasons. I was dead tired Saturday. We had to get up at 0-dark-thirty Saturday morning for Big Man’s first cross country meet, followed by a long dance day and trying – rather unsuccessfully – to get our house from “dump” status to “somewhat clean and organized” status. Then there was the fact getting to the venue and finding parking, downtown, with 45,000 other people, was not going to be a cakewalk. I just wasn’t that motivated. But I knew the Princess was excited, and we were going with another mom and two of her girls. And I knew once I was there, it would be awesome. So I cleaned myself up, and away we went. It was just as good as I’d expected it to be.

We saw T-Swift four years ago on her Speak Now tour. You have to admire the girl. She puts on a fabulous, entertaining show. But it’s more than that…the message she has for young girls, teenage girls, and even grown up girls is beautiful. She took a few moments at one point to talk about trolls and bullies, how you shouldn’t let something someone who doesn’t even really know you says affect the way you see yourself or live your life. Do what makes you happy. Be who you are. Surround yourself with people who build you up. And build up those around you. The Princess is definitely at an age she needs to hear that from someone besides her mother.

I listened to the lyrics, and realized another reason I like Taylor. Her music takes me back and reminds me what it was like to dream of romance before it ever happened to me. I’m reminded of first love, young love, crushes that consumed, and the heartbreak of those crash-and-burn relationships. I recall the hope, the newness, the pitter-patter of a young heart when that boy finally talked to me. Sigh…..Listening to her music makes me remember who I was then, what it was like then. It brings back that part of me, that young, hopeful girl.

I took the greatest joy in sitting beside my girl, listening to her sing all the words of all the songs. I choked up at the happiness and excitement showing so clearly on her face. I could see her dreams of love and romance flashing before my eyes. The world lays before her, her life so young. I remember being that girl.

There was such a contrast between what we saw in Taylor’s performance Saturday night, and what we saw of other artists during the VMA’s last night. I must be getting old, because I was fairly disgusted within seconds of that show starting. Do these people really think they need to be crude to sell their music? I’m not a prude. I listen to a lot of current music. Language and content don’t tend to bother me. And I’ve said before I rarely censor what my kids listen to. But this was just gross to be gross. Shock and awe. While T-Swift may have made her show a bit more mature than we’ve seen in the past, it wasn’t raunchy or disgusting. There were a lot of little girls there Saturday  night, and there wasn’t one moment I was embarrassed for them to see what was happening onstage.

The Princess caught me singing along to a few of the songs. She giggled a couple of times. But then during one song, she just smiled,  lay her head on my shoulder, and reached over to hold my hand. Remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote about being just the mom, to be seen and not heard? In that moment, for that one song, I wasn’t “just the mom.” We were partners in crime, we were sharing the music, creating a memory. I’ll carry that with me, and bring it out to look at when she’s being an obnoxious teenage girl. So thank you,  Taylor, for giving this old mom and her teenage daughter something over which to connect. I know we weren’t the only mother/daughter to experience this. In the next row over sat a grandma, her daughter, and her granddaughter. They were all dressed in matching outfits….white t-shirt, black shorts, knee high black socks, red and black tutus, and black cat ears. They were adorable. But the best part was watching all three of them dancing and singing throughout the entire concert. That alone was worth the ticket price.

First Love

Do you remember your first love? Oh my…that feeling…the excitement, the flutters, the heart-pounding knowledge that someone outside of your family cared about you. I remember mine well. I was 17.  Crazy.  It was heady, that feeling. It was breath-taking, that first taste of romance.  Finally I was one of the girls whose boyfriend would be waiting outside the classroom door to walk me to my next class. Finally, I was one of the girls who had notes slid into her locker. Finally I was one of the girls who had plans on Friday and Saturday nights. Finally I was one of the girls who didn’t have to stand there fearfully waiting at the beginning of each song to see if someone would ask me to dance.  Finally I understood what making out was all about. Oh, that first love.  You never get it back again…well, most of us anyways.

I remember those walks between classes. I remember rides in his truck to lunch, listening to The Outfield and Janet Jackson. I remember movie dates, and hanging out at home. I remember two-hour-long phone calls that went well past my lights-out time. I remember drives on the back roads in his daddy’s Porsche. I remember feeling so special. And I remember the breakup. What a little idiot I was.

And that first heartbreak. So much pain. So much hurt.  I physically ached. I cried more tears than I thought possible.  And just when I thought I was done crying, it would hurt all over again. I am thankful that pain  is not my last memory of him. We became friends later. And we even had our chance to try it again when we were a bit older and wiser. There are no “what-if’s,” thank goodness.

Gracie is 11. I sit there watching movies and TV shows with her in which first loves are involved. It kills me . I see her face and can almost imagine what’s going through  her head. I know what’s coming for her. I know she will have that first love, and in some ways, I am envious of her. I wish I still had that innocence sometimes. I wish I still had that feeling to look forward to. And my heart aches knowing she will have to endure that first heartbreak.

Her favorite commercial right now is for some jewelry store in which proposal after proposal flashes across the screen. Her favorite movie is Pride & Prejudice. While she is not old enough to be moved the way I and my friends are by the scene in which Mr. Darcy walks up out of the lake, she is  moved by the romance of it.

There are times I wish I could protect her from the extreme high and extreme low of those two firsts…..I know that they will help shape her. I don’t remember if I let my parents comfort me. I have two journals full of post-breakup letters, so I imagine not.  I hope she will let me be there for her, not to offer advice or tell her my story, but just to hug and love her through it.

Would you go back and do it again…have that first love all over even if it meant facing that first breakup and heartbreak?