Advice To My Daughters (From A Mother Who’s Been Through Some Major Shit)


My girls,

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I was your age once. And while I have few regrets, there are some things you should know about life. I’ve lived both the hard life and the good life. I’ve had cancer twice. I know what the fuck I’m talking about.

First off, being smart and pretty gets you virtually nowhere. You’re both smart and pretty so there’s no need to worry about those sort of details other than wearing sunscreen and reading lots of books. Being too pretty can be a disadvantage — men might just want you for your looks and women can be catty. Don’t worry about being any prettier. There are far more important things at stake.

Just take care of yourselves — your bodies and your brains — and focus on your life plan. Do cartwheels every day (if you don’t, someday you’ll find you can’t do one anymore). Stay physically fit. You’ll thank me later.

What do want your adult life to look like? Picture it now and make your plan to achieve it. Really picture it and aim high, not for monetary success but for happiness.

Does it require a college degree? If the answer is no, skip college and the debt that goes along with it. I spent a large chunk of my life coveting a college degree that got me nowhere. If you decide to go college, go to grad school. Get your doctorate. Whatever it takes to be employable, just don’t stop with a bachelor’s degree. Go all the damn way and make it worth it. If you are driven by money, then by all means get an education that opens the door to possibilities.

What lights up your soul? If you love nature, figure out a way to support yourself and be in nature. Do you love horses? Figure out a way to own some and make your living around a horse farm. Maybe that’s through vet school, but maybe not. You might be just as happy living on a horse farm, renting a room above the barn, and cleaning stalls all day. Don’t suffer for too long for an end you don’t really want. Life is now. Sigh. This is a tough one. You’re probably going to be attracted to the ones who aren’t good for you. There’s something about a bad boy..a troubled, mysterious boy who’s alluring. You might think you can fix him — don’t fall into this trap. There are plenty of good boys with a bad boy edge to fall for. Ask yourself, Would this person be a good father to my children? Are we compatible on multiple levels? Does he make me feel attractive? Does he make me laugh? Does he encourage me to spend time with my family and friends? Does he encourage my dreams, no matter how ridiculous they might seem? Does he bring out the very best in me? If the answer is no to any of this questions, dump him immediately. You really don’t want to find yourself in a bad relationship with children and have to co-parent with this person for 18 long years. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.

Save money. Start now. Save whatever you can and by whatever means possible. The worst feeling in the world is being dependent on someone else. I promise you that you can support yourself in this world on your own. Do it. Even if you have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for awhile. There is no freedom better than self-sufficiency. This is the best lesson you can learn and learn it early. You don’t need a man. The best relationships are established on the premise that you don’t need one another; you want one another. It’s the path to stay on. Have your own nest egg and retirement. Life is unpredictable; don’t be caught unprepared.

Having kids. We’re wired to want to have kids before we are ready. Resist and be ready. Having kids is expensive…really, really expensive. Think this through first. I’ve operated on the assumption that if you love each other, things work out. This was a fallacy; things often don’t just work themselves out. Love is not enough. You’ll want a certain life for you kids. How will you provide this life for them? Believe me, nothing is worse than a mother’s guilt. Often times, I couldn’t afford clothes or shoes for either of you, and that feels so shitty. Make sure you can support yourselves and have the extra to support your children. You’ll want to take them to the beach or send them to summer camp or buy them the clothes they need for school. Be ready to do all these things before you have them. Put off having kids until you are mature and financially stable enough to provide for at least their basic necessities. And plenty of women chose not to have children, and that’s okay, too.

Value your friendships with other women. These friendships can save your life. Don’t underestimate the power of real friendship. Invest time in these relationships. If you can afford it, travel to their weddings, be there in their time of need, be there for all girls’ weekends. Some of my best friends are the ones I made in elementary school and junior high. Don’t let these blessed friendships die out. I promise you, they’ll be some of the best of times you’ll ever have.

Guilt. I’ve already mentioned mother’s guilt but there are many types of guilt. If you live a life true to yourself, please don’t feel guilty. Guilt is the ultimate robber of joy. Be joyous, please. I demand this of you and it’s my only demand. Remember that your mother gave you permission (not that you needed it) to be joyous.

Sex. Most men are clueless when it comes to sex and it may be up to you to teach them what pleases you. Know what pleases you first and don’t be embarrassed to articulate it. If you need a vibrator to have an orgasm, let them know. Often times, it’s up to you to direct, teach, and speak up. Don’t ever have sex to just please a man — that’s nonsense. A man should want to please you first; his pleasure will follow. Most men can easily have orgasms while the majority of women cannot. If you can’t have an orgasm strictly by penetration, there’s nothing wrong with you. Educate yourself and your partner and experience all the pleasure safely. Safely is important. No one wants an STD or an unwanted pregnancy, and both can be prevented.

In short, be a dreamer and a planner, too. And above all, be joyous, independent, strong women. You can do this, I just know it.

I love you both beyond measure,