I just want to start off by saying I caused quite the stir on my personal Facebook page earlier this week, completely unintentionally. This letter was written well before that took place, so this is in no way shape or form a reaction or response to the recent controversy. This is my personal message to my children, something I, as a mother, want them to know. So without further ado..
I will be the first person to admit I have made many mistakes in my life across all spectrums; some big and others small, some well thought out and others very careless. While I would like to say I learned from these mistakes immediately and made it my life’s work to turn my karma around… it honestly wasn’t until after my first daughter, Charlotte, turned one that I truly began to grow as a person. I spent a good portion of my life being a very selfish individual, and that was still true after Char was born. While I loved my daughter more than she will ever know, I still really loved myself too… I had a hard time putting anyone before me, even her. However, my daughter is an old soul. She is wise beyond her years, she is intuitive and sensitive and she reminds me every day in her actions just how brilliant and wonderful children are. Most importantly, she is receptive. I started to notice even the smallest of my actions affecting her behavior, and not always in a positive way. I have two daughters now; Kennedy just turned one and Charlotte will be 3 in a few weeks. When I look at my girls I think very intensely about the person I used to be, the person I want to be, and the kind of women I want them to be. I also think a lot about the world we live in. I don’t ever want my daughters to grow up feeling like they can’t be themselves. So I have put together a list of 11 things I want my girls, and any future children, to know.
- You are going to make mistakes.
You are human. We make mistakes, and honestly, you’re going to make a lot of them. You’re not going to learn from them right away, I can almost guarantee it, but someday down the road a light bulb will go off in your head and you will remember a moment that happened when you were a kid, or a teenager, or an adult, and something will click. You will have that “ah-ha!” moment, I promise. You are going to be put in a similar situation years later and you will think back to this moment and you will know exactly what to do. You will be more careful with peoples’ feelings, you will remember how something made you feel, you will remember promises you made… you won’t make the same mistake twice, and if you do, it won’t have the same outcome twice. You are both brilliant girls with minds that amaze me every day and I know you will learn from every move you make.
- Pay attention to the actions of others.
People will always, always, ALWAYS show you their true colors, you can count on that. Sometimes, more often than not, it takes a while for them to come out, but you’ll see them eventually. You don’t have to like or get along with everyone you come in contact with, that’s not normal, but you do have to be kind and respectful. No matter how someone else treats you, treat them with kindness. And if they continue to treat you poorly, remove them from your life and move on. There is no unwritten rule somewhere that says you absolutely must keep people in your life that bring it down. Do not let someone else’s opinion of another person affect your opinion of that person. Get to know everyone, make up your own mind about them.
- Always trust your intuition
This may sound outlandish, but psychics run in our family… seriously. Because of that I’ve often been told I have “psychic tendencies” or what I have come to believe is just a really strong and unusually accurate intuition. I’m positive you’ll have the same ability to read people and situations, so always listen to your gut. It’s not often I’m wrong about certain things, and there are so many instances I wish I could go back in time and just listen to myself the first time. You are smarter and more intuitive than you know, so always trust yourself first. No one knows your thoughts and feelings better than you.
- Don’t be afraid to love
I have this pet peeve… somewhere along the way it became a faux pas for people to love. Saying “I love you” became hard. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Love is an amazingly beautiful thing and there are so, so, so many different forms and different ways to love people, places, even things. Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Fall in love with as many things as you can. Talk about the things you love with passion in your eyes and heart. Only a coward would tell you to be guarded and careful with love. Which brings me to my next point…
- Don’t be afraid to get hurt, seriously.
I have only ever been in love once in my entire life, and that is with your father, true story. However, that’s not to say I haven’t been hurt before. I know what it’s like to have your heart broken (again, by your father, but don’t worry… he fixed it, ha), and I can promise you, hearts heal. Just like any other part of your body, with a little TLC and time, hearts do heal. Getting hurt is not the worst thing in the world, even if it feels like it, and it won’t always be a significant other that hurts you. It may be a friend, a family member, someone you barely know. It’s easy to get hurt, and it’s perfectly ok to get hurt. You will learn something from every single person you meet in your life, and sometimes that lesson is how not to treat others. Take getting hurt in stride; let it teach you its own lesson. And when it feels like it’s too much to bear, don’t worry; mommy is here to remind what love feels like.
- It’s ok to forgive
I used to be the queen of holding grudges. Your father is even worse than I am. By all accounts, you both should be able to hold onto a perfectly good grudge until you’ve forgotten why you’ve been holding onto it so tightly in the first place. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that grudges suck the life out of you, and fast. It is exhausting trying to act like people are worse than you, or someone’s hurt you worse than you’ve hurt them. It’s exhausting trying to rearrange your schedule so you don’t run into someone you are trying so hard to actively hate. It’s exhausting trying to get people to see and understand your side. It’s exhausting trying to constantly prove to yourself that you’re right. Take it from me, let it go! There is a quote I love that says, “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This doesn’t mean that when someone hurts you it’s crazy to feel affected by it, THAT is totally normal, just don’t let it take over your life. It’s ok to forgive them. Don’t ever forget how they made you feel, and don’t ever let them do the same thing to you twice, but forgive. Especially if you miss that person. Sometimes holding a grudge becomes an issue of pride. You’d rather be proud and stubborn than admit you were wrong, or that what they did wasn’t as life shattering as you made it out to be. That’s ok. Forgive them, forgive yourself, and hug it out.
- It’s ok not to forgive.
Say what now? But I just spent 10 minutes rambling on and on about how to forgive someone! I know, I know… mommy’s confusing, but seriously, sometimes it’s ok not to forgive people. And I only say this because I feel like it’ll happen by itself over time. Maybe 20…30 years later, but it’ll happen. Sometimes people cut you and they cut you deep and you think you’ll never recover. Sometimes people do not deserve to be forgiven, at least not right away. I hope against hope you never encounter someone this evil in your lifetime, but we all know sometimes wolves are disguised in sheep’s clothing. Everyone says forgive but don’t forget. I say the opposite, especially in this regard. You don’t have to forgive every time, but you can forget about them and move on.
- Hate is a learned behavior
Girls, this one is very important to me and I truly want you to understand this. Hate is not something you are born with. Children don’t see being different as being bad until someone says so. Over the course of your life you are going to encounter so many different types of people and not one of them will be exactly like either of you. You are going to meet people who believe, think, and feel differently than you do, and that is perfectly ok. The choices people make about their own lives have absolutely nothing to do with you and you should never let it affect you as if it did. Nor should you ever try to change someone’s thoughts, feelings, emotions or behaviors. When you look at someone I want you to see them for who they are in their soul. I don’t want you to see color, gender, religion… I want you to just see good or bad. If you connect with a person, that’s great. Spend time with them, learn things from them, teach them things they didn’t already know. If you don’t connect with a person, that’s fine too. You don’t have to. But never, ever, ever judge someone based on what you see on the outside. There is so much more to a person than what meets the eye. So please, PLEASE, please try your very hardest to accept everyone for who they are.
- Don’t ever make someone feel like less than they are
This is easier said than done. This is something people do and sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing it. The hope is that someone will have enough courage to speak up and tell you how you have made them feel, or you will speak up and tell someone how they made you feel. Don’t challenge them. You can never tell someone else how they should have or shouldn’t have felt. Listen to them, take it in. Say you’re sorry if you have hurt their feelings, mean it. And if this should happen to you, hope the other person does the same. And if they don’t, refer to number 6….. or 7.
- Be yourself.
You are both the most beautiful things to come out of my life. I am not one of those women who revels and thrives in pregnancy, who believes they were put on this planet for some bigger purpose, but I do believe that while I have had my time on this planet, you are the best things I have ever done with all that time. You are both unlike anyone else I have ever encountered in my lifetime. You’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re kind, you’re hilarious, you frustrate me, you challenge me, you amaze me, you make me proud. Please just always remember to be yourself in a world that wants you to be like everyone else. Perfect does not exist, but the outside world is going to tell you that you have to be. Do not ever let anyone you know or don’t know (everyone has an opinion these days) tell you who you should be, how you should feel, what you should do. Only you could ever know what’s right, not even myself or your father could tell you that. So just know in a world that will always tell you that you’re not enough, you are enough. You are enough just the way you are. And you will always be enough no matter what.
And now, a bonus note, because I love you.
- Don’t ever smoke a cigarette.
Or I’ll kill you, seriously. They’re not cool. Smoking cigarettes does not look cool. Nothing about smoking yourself into an early grave is cool. When I was young I made a promise to my mother that I would never smoke a cigarette (Grandma told me if she ever caught me she would make me eat them AND the pack they came in… I believed her) and I never did. So the same goes for both of you… because I love you.
Charlotte, there is also a story I want you to know. A few weeks ago we were at a birthday party (you were two years old at the time). At this party there was a little girl, a few years older than you, with Down’s syndrome sitting on the floor all by herself. The other little boys and girls continued to walk by her never bothering to stop and ask her if she wanted to play with them. They weren’t necessarily mean to her, but they didn’t make her feel included either. You took one look at her, walked up to her, took her by the hand and asked her if she wanted to play with you in the playroom. It may not seem like a big deal to you, to anyone else, but to me my heart was exploding with pride. Just remember, at one time you did not see her as different based on her appearance. To you, she was just a little girl that looked like she could use some company. I hope you always see the world that clearly.
I love you both,