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.

 

Treasured

A few days ago, P was gushing about a friend of hers at school, specifically she was gushing about how he treats his girlfriend. She told me he compliments his girlfriend in front of his friends and her friends, lets people know she’s important in his life. I said, “Oh, he makes her feel treasured, cherished, lets her know she matters.” “That’s it,” P said. Yes, my dear girl…those boys are the winners in the end. When you’re looking (years from now, please) for “THE ONE”, find the man who makes you feel treasured.

That’s really how Spouse won me over. It took months for me to finally cave, but that’s what did it. He wasn’t a big gesture type of guy (although he has pulled off some big gestures since then, and I love them all the more for being few and far between – they’re always surprising when they happen), but he quietly and persistently let me know I mattered to him. He quietly and persistently let others know I mattered to him, and that meant almost more. He wasn’t one way when we were alone together, and another way entirely when people were around.

We talked, almost every single day. Now remember, this is before cell phones were in everyone’s hands and LONG before texting and social media existed. We actually talked, on the phone, every day, for hours on end. We saw each other nearly every weekend. He made me laugh. He taught me to laugh at me. He gave me the space I demanded, but never gave up, and never left. When I had to have surgery, he drove over an hour to see me and make sure I was okay. When the sun was shining and the weather perfect in  San Francisco, we both ditched work and spent a beautiful Spring day together in the City. When my dad had an aneurysm, he showed up and stayed with me in the waiting room during the long surgery. He was just there, in every way I needed him to be so that I knew I mattered to him.

He could be a little overprotective, and even a little jealous, at times (still is). I chafed against that, often, but then came to realize it’s just because I matter, because he does cherish me, that he does that. When we’re out at a party or social event, I know that he knows where I am in the room. For whatever reason, that still makes me feel a little special. He still gives me my room to be me, my space to have my own section of life, but I know I’m his, I matter to him, I’m treasured. That’s what I want P to find someday.

 

Funny thing, those plans

The Princess had a friend over the other afternoon, and, as this particular plan is a Senior, they were talking about life after high school, college, and life plans. I tried oh so hard to not let the laughter burst forth, but I couldn’t help it. I laughed because I know that life plans are kinda like assumptions.  Funny thing about life plans….Life usually has other plans.

I had a life plan when I was in high school, and again in college, and then again after college. I had to keep changing my plan, because life kept changing and throwing me curve balls. Almost nothing went the way I’d planned. First off, I started school at a private, small, Christian college. I’d planned to finish my undergrad there, and then go to law school. I’d also thought I might meet my Mr. Right there, maybe during my sophomore or junior year, get married a year or two out of college, get my career going, and then have some kids by or during my early 30’s, employing a nanny while I rose to the top in my corporate law career. HAH! My parents split up right after I graduated from high school, and sold our home during my sophomore  year. There was a push to come home as my brother was getting married and my sister was debating college. So, I left my small, private, Christian college and came home to the nearby, not-too-big, state college. I didn’t meet Mr. Right, although I had a few Mr. Right-nows. I didn’t go to law school. I didn’t meet my Mr. Right until I was almost 27 years old, was almost 30 when we got married, and 31, 32, and 34.5 when I had my kids, AFTER going through fertility issues, a miscarriage, a premature birth, two kids 12 months apart, and having one autistic child.  I don’t have a high-flying career. We did have a nanny for two months one summer, but not because  I was out lawyering – I was an AR/HR person making $10 an hour.  I’ve been a SAHM for seven years, and just went back to a part-time, mostly-from-home job a bit over a year ago. Not exactly  how I’d planned my life to go.

I’m not disappointed with my life in the least. I have a happy marriage, amazing babies, treasure friends, a job I love, a nice home, and all the things I need. And it certainly isn’t bad to have a plan for your life. Plans provide goals and direction. My point to the Princess was to go ahead and have a plan, but don’t freak out when life doesn’t go the way you planned. Don’t let that plan keep you from experiencing what life is putting in your path. Don’t let your plan keep you from relationships that could enrich  your life, help you grow. Don’t let devastating curveballs turn you away from living, or completely divert you from your goals and dreams.

Did you have a life plan when you were younger? Did life go anything close to what you planned?

The Next Four Years

I’ve been dropping the Princess off at the high school nearly every weekday morning all summer, so why this morning the tears? I watched her walk away from the car towards her cheer team, in her uniform, and that huge throat lump formed, the eyes started watering. She’s more than ready for high school. I, however, am not so ready for how quickly the years are flying. Today was the first day of school for her and for Big Man.

Ry and G first day back to back

So much is going to happen in her life over the next four years.  She will likely have as many firsts in these four years as she did her first four years of life…..first time cheering at a football game, first Homecoming, first dates, first boyfriend, first kiss (YIKES!), first heartbreak, getting her driver’s license. She will grow so much, really establish who she is, push to become independent, get ready to be out on her own.

I’m so excited for her, excited to watch what life will bring her way. I’m also terrified. While we’ve worked hard to lay a solid foundation for her to rely on, we don’t have control over those who will step through her life. She will make her choices and decisions. We will do our best to guide and support her.

I told her the other day I’m envious in some ways; she has so much ahead of her to look forward to. At the same time, I also told her you couldn’t pay me enough to go through it again.

The next four years are going to go by so quickly.  I know I will have many more mornings of tearing up over yet another first in her life. I’m excited to watch her spread her wings, but I also wish I could hear that tiny little girl’s voice one more time, remember exactly how it was to watch her take her first steps, hold her in my arms while she sleeps once again.

Stumped again

The Princess had her sports physical this morning as she starts cheer camp tomorrow morning (NOT at 6am, praise God!). My baby girl is a healthy child, or as our pediatrician calls her, Mary Poppins, since she’s practically perfect in every way. She dances 10 hours a week, give or take, plus cheer. She eats well. She has my and her dad’s metabolism as well. She’s gonna wreck me for saying this, but she has a gorgeous, trim, athletic body I would kill for. You know teenage girls…..

So you could have knocked me over with that proverbial feather when the pediatrician asked her if she thought she needed to lose weight, this girl who’s weight and BMI is well below that of peers her height, and she said yes, she thought she should be skinnier. What. The. Hell??!!!! The doctor firmly laid out, with all the charts and facts, why my girl is perfect just the way she is. I felt sick, utterly heartbroken. Good golly – the girl has a 24 inch waist, but she told me she has a weird belly that stick out. What. The. Hell.

The guilt poured over me. Did I make her this way by my own actions and attitude? I’ve tried oh so hard the last few years to be really careful what I say about my body, and any other body for that fact. We talk about being healthy, not about numbers and weight. I try desperately to keep my internal struggles with my weight to myself. That’s why I quit doing the 21 Day Fix – because she was very aware of what I was measuring, eating, not eating every single day. What have I done to my precious girl?

Or is this just every single teenage girl? I know I believed I was “fat” when I weighed all of 98 pounds at 16 years old. Is it genetic for teenage girls to compare their bodies to every other body around them, every other body they see? How do I help her see herself the way everyone else does? I’m at a loss here, friends. My heart is aching – I would save her from years of comparing and finding herself lacking in any way. I would save her from food issues. I would save her from having any negative self-speak.

Is this just normal? Are we to accept our daughters seeing someone entirely different in the mirror than we see? How do we turn the tide? How do I make her see herself the way I see her?

I did tell her on the way home she does NOT need to lose any weight at all, and there will be some serious conversations if she even tries. I’m terrified she will go through all I went through in high school and college, and even today. That thought near breaks me.

In my own skin

I’ve had self-esteem and self-image issues since I was about ten…never happy with the way I looked, always dissatisfied with the number showing on the scale or the tag of my clothes, even when that number was pretty dang low. I’ve fought to find peace with my body. But just when you think you’ve found a decent, survivable place, you realize how easy it is to be sucked back to that other place, the  one where a number means so much.

Let me put this out there…I’m healthy.  I have been described as “fit” and “sporty”.  I try to take care of me. Exercise is a normal part of the weekly routine. I am getting ready to run my seventh half marathon. But I am also of an age weight naturally creeps up. Nothing has changed in the eating or exercise regimen.  I even asked the endocrinologist when I saw her a few weeks back. This is “normal”. So why then is it so hard to me to take? Why do I find myself back in a near-obsessive place, somewhere I haven’t been since college? I am uncomfortable in my own skin. There are clothes in my closet I refuse to take off the hanger, for fear they won’t fit any longer. I’m continually fidgety, tugging and pulling at buttons, waistbands. That sounds like I gained ten pounds in the last few months….I have not. It’s three pounds, but the fact I know that exact amount is  my own little indicator where my head is.

While I’m struggling with all this, I’m trying to preach to my daughter that value is not found in the number on a scale, nor the number on the tag of her jeans. I need her to not face what I’ve gone through for so many years. So I don’t talk about how I feel about myself right now in her presence. I won’t weigh myself when she’s home. I put away the two programs I had used in the last few years trying to lose pounds. Keeping it inside me isn’t helping me, but letting it out wouldn’t help her. This is hard.

I’m trying to focus on just being healthy….eating more salad than bread, more veggies than pasta, and so on…..watching portion sizes, but also trying to model moderation, allowing “cheat day” once a week, acknowledging that sometimes you just eat the cookie. I fight with myself constantly over wanting to see a certain number, but then knowing that to achieve that number, and maintain it, I’d have to basically never look at a piece of bread again, and life is too short to live it in constant denial.

I’m struggling here, friends. Logically, I know where I am, know what I’m dealing with, and I know I need to model health for my daughter,  a good outlook, a good perspective on self-image. But then I see that number, and I panic. You’d think by this age, I’d have left this all behind twenty years ago. And yet the battle rages. I’m a woman, but I’m also a mom. So my dissatisfaction with self takes a backseat to the need for her to have a healthy outlook on  her own self. That means putting away my anxiety over what the scale shows, any negative self-speak on my appearance, any obsession with what I’m eating or not eating, and living in a positive, healthy way.