I'm not saying that you SHOULDN'T be pretty if you want to. (You don't owe UN-prettiness to feminism, in other words.) Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you. But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze.
If I had been a more sensitive girl back then, her reaction to my thinness and her desire to be thinner could have made me fear weight gain. Made me think it was normal to be disgusted by my own changing body. Made me believe in one ideal physique, which was not genetically in the cards for me. I refused to let this conversation end as badly as that one could have.
There will be demons. But they just don't stand a chance here.
I can't wrap her up in a bubble and stick earplugs in her ears. I can't hide her eyes from the outside world.
But I'm arming her now, with the strongest weapons I can find, the ones I only wish my parents had given to me: love, the kind that is full of wisdom and awareness, empathy and understanding, acceptance and compassion.
And it is not that we lead ‘busy lives’. That’s a given, we all do, and it’s a cop out to use that as an excuse. It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs. And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late.
Rubbish. You are rude. And inconsiderate.
Just in case you’re wondering, the Single Greatest Secret for Marriage Success [according to Love & Respect] is that women need unconditional love and men desperately need unconditional respect. Yes, men desperately neeeeeeeed respect. It’s in the title. Love & Respect: the love she most desires, the respect he desperately needs. I don’t know about you, but a man who desperately needs anything from me is also highly suspect. I don’t like neediness. Neither does my therapist. She has this fancy word for it: co-dependent.
Also, what is unconditional respect? To me, that sounds like a huge loophole for tolerating abuse. Like, hey, woman. NO MATTER HOW BAD I TREAT YOU, YOU MUST RESPECT ME!
Except that it was a big deal because our kids talked for months about "that one night that they almost got the weenie touch". Once they even said, "Daddy! Give Mommy the weenie touch!" Really they just wanted him to chase me around the house, but the way they phrased it nearly made me wet my pants from laughing. And everyone knows that if you laugh at your kids once, they will repeat what they just said over and over and over again.
It’s just that…oh my gawwwwddd it’s SO DUMB! I can promise you that at no point during any of the times that I heard “Call Me Maybe” did I think, “Man, what would be dope is if 9-year-olds sang this.” And I know. I know. This probably makes me a cruel, heartless woman who can’t appreciate the joy and beauty of the voices of our young treasures lifting up in song to bring us church-approved versions of Nicki Minaj songs.
Now, I'm aware that different stripe colors should not matter in the slightest, when you're talking about 1) BOYS, and 2) stripes that go on the BOTTOM OF THE FOOT, but somehow I managed to birth not one, but two boy children who care — DEEPLY — about the exact matching status of their socks. They will routinely put their underwear on backwards and their shirts on inside-out and will fail to notice that hey, buddy, I think that shirt is actually one of the baby's unsnapped onesies.
All the time I spent in that office taught me that shame was the first order of business. An incredible amount of mind-blowing, low self-esteem inducing onslaught of shame. They were better than us, the poor people. They held all the cards, gave all the orders, and dispensed all the contrition. Each time she said nasty words to me I cussed her out in my head. There were things I wanted to say to her but I was too afraid. I hadn't yet found my voice or demanded that anyone treat me better than I was used to being treated.
Their goal was to get money and child sponsorships. To ensure that the people in the audience would give and/or sponsor the videos were showcasing what a day might be like in a child’s life previous to getting sponsored. They were dirty. No clean water. Alone. Working in the fields.
I was sitting next to Amos and I could literally sense his body clinching. He was uncomfortable. He felt awkward and I could sense that he really didn’t even know what to do with what he was thinking and feeling.
You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.
We got in a solid 30 minutes of memories before that meltdown, though. And here’s where I admit that sometimes when I look at social media I feel like my kids are missing out. I see all these photos of kids and their moms doing fun projects together, and I think, what is wrong with me that I don’t like that stuff? I start to feel like I don’t measure up. GUILT GUILT GUILT, a mother’s favorite meal! Scrolling through Instagram, it’s all that she will feel!
What I’m Reading
*A fascinating read and a very thorough exploration, this book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
Instagram wall art: