My Daughter Is Beautiful And I’ll Tell Her So If I Want To

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I hate to alarm you, but something terrible is happening. And it’s our own damn fault.

We seem to have, collectively, decided that the definition of what it means to be a Girl must be rewritten. This is not the terrible thing. This is actually a good and important and necessary thing. Girls today will grow up having been exposed to images and language depicting their sisters and themselves as Brave. Strong. Smart. Independent. And it’s about time for that.

The terrible thing that is happening is a bit of collateral damage, I’m afraid.

Somewhere along the way of shaping this new “Like a Girl” definition, the word “Beautiful” seems to have become a bad word.

I have read more than a few blog posts and articles over the past several months which all seem to suggest, not that girls are more than “just pretty faces,” with which I think we could all agree, but that by calling a girl “beautiful,” you might as well be insulting her. I read an “open letter,” a cease and desist, really, from a mother asking the compliment-givers in her neighborhood to stop commenting on the beauty of her daughter’s hair. Then, another mother wrote that she does not call her daughter Beautiful. She’ll give her little girl a million words of praise a day, but not one will be a comment on her physical appearance, lest her daughter grow to become an arrogant, or conversely insecure, image-obsessed teenager.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Jo Swinson, Women’s Minister in the UK, urged parents to stop calling their daughters beautiful because to do so is to send the message that looks are the most important thing in life. And even a supermodel weighed in on the issue: Doutzen Kroes, a Victoria’s Secret model, joined the campaign against Beautiful, stating that she’d rather her daughter be called “smart” than “beautiful” so that she will aspire to do something in her life other than modeling. Kroes thinks we should “teach girls that they can be presidents.” 

Um. Okay, sure. Of course I want my daughter to grow up knowing that she can pursue any career she’s willing to work hard for… including the presidency. But…what’s wrong with being smart and beautiful?

People of the Internet: We have taken this Girl Power thing too far. Well, by “we” I mean “you” because I call my daughter Beautiful no less than thousands of times per day (more or less).

My daughter is beautiful. As I’m sure the daughters of the mothers mentioned above are, too. And because I want my beautiful girl to always believe that she is, I tell her. Often. And I’ll keep telling her until my words become her own and she recognizes the pure and natural beauty that has always been and will always be Her. Not all of her. She is, after all, more than just a pretty face. But that face? It’s beautiful.

I also tell, and will continue to tell, my daughter that she is kind. And talented. Generous and a clever problem-solver. Bright and sensitive with a killer sense of humor (even at two! She slays her brothers with mere mention of poop and toots). She is compassionate. Loving…..Brave. Strong. Smart. Independent. I will continue to extol her many and various virtues on a daily basis so that she knows that the best parts of her (on the inside and the outside) don’t go unnoticed in the busy and the hectic and the Oh My God, you guys, just put on your shoes!

I call my daughter beautiful because, when I’m commenting on her beauty, I’m pointing out her natural beauty. I don’t put make-up on my 2-year old and then comment on the length of her lashes or the shape of her cheekbones. I don’t highlight my baby’s hair and then swoon over her gorgeous cornsilk curls. I don’t show her an Instagrammed close-up of her denim-blue eyes and then tell her how they melt me. When I say she’s beautiful, I mean that She is beautiful…all crusty-nosed and bed-headed and pouty-faced and mis-matched and dirt-covered. Because she truly is…as any mother could say of her child.

In fact, shouldn’t childhood be precisely the time we are telling girls and boys, loudly and repeatedly for the world to hear, how beautiful theyare? Before they have a chance to compare their image to those on the covers of the magazines in the grocery store check-out line? Before they have a chance to hear from their friends in third period about eyelash curlers and push-up bras? Before they have a chance to hear a negative comment made to them by an insecure peer? Before they have a chance to want thousands of Likes on a photo-shopped selfie?

Now is the time. I will call my daughter beautiful. I will smile adoringly at her as the sweet grandfather at the Post Office calls her a “Pretty Little Lady.” I will voice my agreement as the store clerk gushes, “Well, aren’t you just the cutest thing?!” And I will remind her every day that all of her — her mind, her heart, her spirit, and her body — is beautiful… Just the way she is… and however she chooses to present herself.

Calling my daughter beautiful will not limit her in any way, and I’m not going to let the internet convince me otherwise.

Related post: 10 Promises I’ve Made to my Daughter

Why I Stopped Trying To Make My Daughter Pretty

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My ten year old daughter Clare only likes to wear clothes from the boy’s section. Preferably a boxy, shapeless t-shirt with pictures of Spiderman or any other superhero on them. She always wears two braids. Always. Even to bed. Her hair is thick, blonde and gorgeous. Clare has beautiful, wide-set blue eyes, high cheek bones and long, slender limbs that remind me of a baby colt. I think she’s beautiful. She doesn’t care. She’s not interested in being beautiful.

Last year, I made her take her braids down for her class picture. It was an epic battle and I played dirty. I used psychoanalysis, telling her I was afraid her braids were like a security blanket (which I am) and that I wanted her to be comfortable in every Hair Iteration and that I didn’t want her to fall prey to bullies who might socially ostracize her (which is true), and to that end I was willing to bribe her with an Obi Wan Kenobe FX lightsaber that could have paid for a month’s worth of groceries.

But underlying my bid for her emotional well-being, was the down-and-dirty truth: I wanted her to look pretty in her school pictures, her cascading hair framing her face, so I could show her off to friends and relatives.

On picture day, she wouldn’t actually wear her hair down. She wore it in ponytails, then took it down just for the picture. Apparently the entire 4th grade female student body had to witness this anomaly. Shrieking and cooing and telling Clare how gorgeous she looked. After the picture mission was complete, one of the little girls carefully, respectfully braided Clare’s hair for her.

When I got Clare’s school picture a month later, my mission was achieved. She did indeed look very pretty with her flowing locks. But she also looked, well, not quite like Clare.

I’m over it. I’m letting it go. My daughter doesn’t need to fulfill my vision of how she would look most beautiful. She doesn’t need to care about being beautiful. She DOES have to wash her hair at least once a week. There I will not budge. But my girl won’t define herself by her appearance the way I did. The way I still do.

What defines her now are her passions: making weapons out of paper, learning to sketch manga characters by following tutorials online, playing a version of Dungeons and Dragons with her dad all night, reading The Hunger Games with me, playing the piano and taking up Judo. And so many more things she’s passionately interested in.

These kids man, they teach you how to live.

A Letter to my Daughter in the Future

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To my daughter when she turns eighteen (many, many years from now):

Well, hey there, kiddo. Remember me, the mom you used to love but now probably hate with every bone in your teenage body? If you’re anything like the little shit I was at your age, you’re barely speaking to me right now, much less listening to my brilliant words of wisdom.

The way I see it, I’ll be hitting menopause at about the same time you’re in the thick of puberty, so basically we’re F’ed, so I figured I better write you this letter now before we’re not speaking to each other. Then again, if I’m wrong and we’re like totally besties, I’ll just tell you this shit over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and give you this letter so you’ll have it in writing, too.

Before you move away from home (at which point I’ll be locked up in the bathroom, drowning my tears in a bottle of vodka,) I wanted to make sure to pass along some words of advice to you. Here are a few things to do in your early adulthood before life sucks the life out of you:

Get shitfaced once in a while. Some of my best bonding moments were when I had one (translation: four) too many cocktails with my girlfriends. Just don’t do any of the following while you’re shitfaced: walk home alone, drive drunk, or sleep with a guy. Even if he’s like ridiculously hot. No, not because he might turn out to be fugly when you’re sober. Consider this shit, if he’s that attractive, guess what else might be attracted to him. Herpes, genital warts, and crabs. Going home with a hangover the next morning is doable. Going home with the Red Lobster menu crawling all over your hoo-ha, not so much.

And while we’re on the subject of bonding, try to make a lot of great friends in your twenties. Here are a few things that happen when you’re a young adult: you go out a lot, you drink, and you hang out on people’s couches. As you get older these things happen less and less. Not that you can’t bond with a friend over a stinky diaper change. It just doesn’t quite bring you together the same way dropping your pants to pee in an alley does. Not that I’ve done that.

Speaking of dropping your pants, let’s talk about your career choice. Yeah, picking something you love is important, but here’s some shit the career counselors won’t tell you. You know how you say one day you want to get married and have babies and all that junk and give me little grandbabies I can cuddle and love and hand back to you when they take a shit? If you can, pick a job that’s going to be flexible with hours one day and let you work from home. There’s no such thing as a part-time investment banker. Or a part-time cardiac surgeon. They’re fabulous jobs, and yeah, I’d be proud as hell to say my daughter is doing a heart transplant, but I’d also be watching your kiddo all day, and I’m not sure how cool it would be for me to walk into your OR and say, “Here, take your rug rat. He just made a doodie and I ain’t changing it.”

Notice how in that last paragraph I said one day you want to get married. I didn’t say you want to find a husband. Yeah, if you’re a lesbian, just tell us. Don’t beat around the bush. Wait, yes, beat around the bush but tell us you’re beating around the bush. It’ll actually make us feel better, especially your dad, who has a gun ready for the first guy who asks for your hand in marriage.

Which is a great segue to dating. Whether you’re into men or women, you’re going to date a bunch of assholes along the way. They might break up with you in a text message or cheat on you with their ex who they broke up with in a text message. And they’ll probably make you cry and feel like crapola. Just know that they are not a waste of time. They are all there to teach you what you DON’T want in a partner.

Because one day your boobs will droop so low they touch your ankles, and your elbows will make you wonder whether you’re one-quarter elephant, and your eyesight will be so bad you’ll fail to notice your one-haired goatee until it gets tangled in your necklace, and that’s when you’ll want a partner who’s not going to throw up in their mouth a little when they see you naked. You want to end up with someone who thinks you’re more gorgeous than the day you first met.

And one last thing. Even if you’re not talking to me right now, know that you can always tell me anything. ANYTHING. I’ve probably been there myself, even if I never told you about it. I might want to kick the shit out of you and lock you in a room forever, but I won’t actually do it. I will always be there for you (with a bottle of something hard if you’re twenty-one or a pint of something chocolatey if you’re not). I love you.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Love, Mommy (Of course I realize by now you’re probably calling me Mom. Or Shithead.)

Mean Girls

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Yesterday, I got a text from daughter while she was on her three girl sleepover hang-out.

“It’s annoying when everything your friend does has to be better than you.”

I text: “Hells yes.”

She texts: “She does all this stuff, can afford whatever, does all these programs because she can afford it. I just don’t like being the broke girl with divorced parents.”

I read this and my heart sinks. My heart sinks because I KNOW.

know.

I text: “I know. It must be hard. Honestly, I don’t like being the broke divorced mom either. I am sorry, honey. I wish it were different. Try to see what you DO have… like a loving brother.”

She texts: “Yeah. But it’s different for me though. Whenever we talk about anything it’s all horseback riding and I was on a national gymnastics team and I have a beach house, etc. etc.”

I text: “Try not to compare. I know when I compare I feel miserable.”

She texts: “BUT SHE WON’T SHUT THE F UP ABOUT IT!”

Yes, she really texts that.

I text: “Talk about your singing, your writing, your stories, your grades. You are great from the inside out. Not the other way around. If she won’t shut the F up, she needs to hear herself, know what I am saying?”

She texts: “She has amazing grades, she THINKS she is a good writer, she has money and parents who are married. What else does she need?”

I text: “Apparently to shut up and learn some humility.”

Right??

She texts: “If my self-esteem were any lower than it is right now, it would be 20,000 leagues under the sea.”

I put the iPhone down. I sit, remembering all the triangulation between teenage girlfriends growing up. All the betrayal, mistrust and humiliation. But mostly the exclusion.

Who is “in” today. Who is “out”.

This is the thing girls do to gain control of one another. While the boys fight it out after school, we are busy leaving each other out.

Before long, daughter arrives home. And she starts talking. First slowly, but in a very short time the dam bursts.

She says, “We were skating and “M” and “S” were always skating together, holding hands and every time I came up and tried to hold hands and skate they would skate away, or tell me, ‘Oh it’s too hard to skate in threes’ or something. It just kept happening and they were all acting like it was me making it up but they were really doing it!”

She is crying now. “They kept saying, ‘What’s the matter with you anyway?’ and I tried to talk to them and they were just like ‘ok…’ and walked away. I was just standing there by myself. It was horrible!”

I hug her. All her black eyeliner in running down her face. I pet her head.

The she says, “And “M” just thinks she is the best at everything. It makes me so sick!”

Now she is REALLY crying. Big crocodile tears. I keep listening. I hold in all my mama revenge thoughts.

“It sounds really hard honey. It reminds me of when I was growing up. Girls would leave each other out, write mean things on the bathroom wall…”

“They still do that!” she says.

“I bet.” I say.

She pauses.

“Mom. When we were on the train they kept walking away. They would be in one spot together. Then when I came over they would move!”

“Whoa!” I say. “You know though, that kind of stuff is not about you. You are just the convenient target for their control issue.”

But I can feel the humiliation. I want so bad to solve it all for her. But I know I cannot.

She cries in my arms. We talk about growing up female. We talk about friends and middle school and high school and mean girls. Soon she is wiping her eyes and making Goth girl eyeliner jokes.

After a while she gets up and goes about her business. I sit on the floor and think.

I hope I have been a good listener. I know there are two sides to every story, but I want to tell daughter to never, ever, ever, never hang out with those two girls again.

I know this day in her life has left a mark.

I hope it is a learning mark.

Blurred (Gender) Lines

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I have a daughter. She is eight. I just want to repeat that for the record – she is EIGHT.

The other day I was asked if I’m worried she is a lesbian. This question didn’t come out of the blue – it came after a ten minute conversation with the lady doing my eyebrows. She’d asked me if I have any children and we got chatting about my daughter. I was waffling away and when I’d finished explaining what my daughter is like, the beauty therapist asked me.

At first I was speechless. Then I laughed. Then AWKWARD. Then I mumbled an “I don’t mind” and left.

Five minutes later, I’m in my car and I’m really annoyed. I’m annoyed at myself for my lack of articulation and I’m annoyed because the lady’s reaction is exactly the kind of reaction I have seen towards my daughter for the past four years. She was just more vocal about it than most people.

The thing is, my daughter is a tomboy. Not just a climbing trees, kicking a football around kind, but a 100% dedicated to EVERYTHING BOY kind.

From the minute she turned four, she refused to wear dresses. She joined Beavers when all her peers were joining Rainbows and her Christmas lists include skateboards, black skull duvet covers and Spiderman hoodies. She wears boys clothes, boys school uniform, boys shoes and tucks her long hair into a baseball cap. At our 10th wedding anniversary party, she wore a suit. Often, she wants to be called Sam or Ben. She doesn’t know Snow White or the Little Mermaid but some of her best friends are Batman characters.

I used to laugh because I thought it was just a phase. But here we are four years later and nothing has changed. Well, something has… I have.

The thing is, you see, people don’t really understand a girl who dresses like a boy and I have no right to get annoyed about that because, once, I was exactly the same. Oh yes, I used to laugh – but that laughter soon turned to worry. Worry that there was something wrong with her, worry that she had gender dysphoria and worry that people would think that I was forcing her to be this way. But worried most of all because she just wasn’t how I’d imagined my little girl to be and it was having an effect on our relationship. I didn’t understand her.

I was confused because all around me I saw daughters with ribbons in their hair, wearing Cinderella dresses and playing with Barbies. Then there was my daughter dressed in army camouflage, her face painted as a demon and her skull ‘n’ cross bones wellies – constantly being mistaken for a boy.

Her first teacher had a word with me once to say that she thought she had “issues with her self esteem”. The annual school dance was stressful because they couldn’t understand why she refused to wear a pretty dress. There were the odd comments from the girls in her class. She wanted to play with the boys, but although the boys were more accepting of her, at the end of the day she wasn’t a boy.

Then something happened which gave me the slap round the face I so needed. I was discussing her with a friend who cut me off mid-sentence and said “Claire. I’m not having this conversation with you now. She’s eight and she’s happy. If she’s a teenager with real issues, then we’ll have this discussion.”

It was exactly what I needed to hear. In those few moments I realized that my daughter is very special, indeed. She is unbelievably happy in her own skin and as for having “issues with her self esteem” well, hey, – she knows exactly who she is. I needed to concentrate on her, forget what other people think and sort out my own mistakes.

After all, even if she does turn out to be gay or want a sex change or damn, well anything else – what does it matter? Isn’t it better for a child to be open about what they want and who they are than to spend years hiding it away? I honestly don’t care as long as she’s happy and I’ll be there for her, no matter what.

The second I accepted who she is, is the second our whole relationship changed. No more battles over the baseball hat or clothes. No more me trying to get her into any girly activities. No more fights over her hair. In fact no more a mother being, in a way, disrespectful to a daughter who has a clear vision of who she is, even at age eight.

Recently, I’ve seen articles where people are complaining about their daughters being “clones” and “copycats”. I’ve read the Disney-Princesses-are-eating-my-daughter stuff and the complaints about pink-for-girls culture and marketing. Some people don’t want this for their daughters, it seems. They don’t want their daughters to conform, understandably, but of course it’s worrying if they DON’T. I’ve been there.

But here’s a thing – I have a daughter who doesn’t conform and who doesn’t even care about conforming, but it’s very rare that I see a reaction other than it’s bizarre. Like I said – she’s mistaken for a boy. Sometimes I correct people, sometimes I don’t, because she doesn’t give a monkeys. If I do correct, I usually get a strange look or a “Weird, I thought that was a boy.” comment. I’ve been asked if she’s a lesbian, if I’m worried she’ll want a sex change, if I’m gutted about not having a girly girl.

A good comparison is Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. The media reaction to seeing Shiloh with short hair and wearing a suit was outrageous to the point where there was even talk that Brad & Angelina had wanted a boy. I tell you now, I might not have much in common with Angelina Jolie but I bet we share this – a history of battles trying to get our daughters into a dress and now a deep admiration for a girl who would rather take the stick than be something she’s not.

And I’m sure Angelina has come to realize exactly what I’ve realized – that at age eight it’s so much more important to have a healthy, secure and happy child.

Yesterday my daughter told me that sometimes she gets asked by the kids at school if she’s a boy or a girl. I asked her how this made her feel. Her reply was “I don’t mind. I’m not bothered. They’ll learn.”

Yes they will, kiddo, I thought. They will.

Then I went right out and bought her a Batman bag.

10 Promises I’ve Made to my Daughter

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My sweet daughter, I know you have only been on this planet 6 years, but I already feel the world trying to pull you from me, trying to yank your childhood out from under the both of us. In light of this, I make you these promises. 

1. I promise to encourage you to love your body. I promise you will never hear me utter the words “diet” or “fattening”. You will never hear me complain about my weight or my looks. (Even when you point out the lines around my eyes, I will always tell you they’re from laughing.) I won’t ever let you complain about your body, either. I will not have it. You are healthy. Nothing else matters. NOTHING.

2. I will never tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. I’m so proud to see you stick with basketball. Even though you’re sometimes the only girl on the team and no one passes to you, I love to watch how ferociously you guard your opponent, and how fast you run the length of the court. When you scramble for the ball, my heart soars. I promise that I will always encourage that fire within you.

3. I will never let you be the mean girl. I don’t EVER want to find out that you’ve purposefully excluded someone, or acted in a hurtful way to another person. This world is too harsh, particularly to little girls, and if you are participating in making another child feel inferior, I will make sure you never do it again. I am speaking from experience and love.

4. I will shield you from the misogynistic world of advertising as long as I can. I know I can’t keep you innocent forever, but for as long as I can, I will keep you away from magazines touting weight loss secrets and magic firming creams to maintain your youth. Your life will be spent dodging the media’s messages that you are not beautiful, so I will protect you as long as I can, until your skin is thick enough to deflect their vicious attacks.

5. I will always encourage you to live large and loudly. That does not mean you can be disrespectful, but I want your voice to be strong and confident- your words matter, make them heard! I don’t care how crazy your idea is- share it with passion and claim your place in this world.

6. I will never tell you to “put on a little lipstick”. I hope you never look at your beautiful face in the mirror and think it needs makeup. But if you do, it won’t be from my influence.

7. I will keep you a little girl as long as I can. Remember how mad I got when you attempted to twerk with that tiny heinie of yours? I don’t care that you learned it from the girl on the bus, it’s inappropriate.  Too many girls grow up too fast, too soon. You will never have this time again-  so take all the time in the world to play with dolls and dream of horses and sparkly fairy dust. Let the magic of your imagination sustain you as long as you can.

8. I promise to listen to you with an open mind. I want to hear your dreams, your opinions and your perspective on life. I love seeing the world through your eyes. It may not always be practical (or even sane), but I’m continuously amazed that I helped create a human being who has the capability for so much silliness, intensity and wisdom. I know we’re going to have some incredible debates over the next 50-odd years.

9. I promise to love you no matter what. No matter how many times you tell me you hate me through your teen years, I will remember that you have raging hormones and that you have, unfortunately, inherited my temper. I can’t promise I will sit silently when you unleash your inner bitch, but I promise to hug you close every night and forgive you for your transgressions.

10. If you didn’t get the message already, I love you to the moon and back. I take my job as your mom seriously, and for that reason, I am putting these promises in writing and ask you to hold me accountable to each of them.

All my love,

Mom

25 Rules for Raising Daughters

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1. Teach your daughter to never allow herself to be anyone’s property and that you will disown her if she ever wears shorts that claim otherwise.

2. Teach your daughter to talk about her feelings – not eat them or purge them. Or if she doesn’t want to talk, teach her to express her feelings through writing, art, music, sports, etc. Anything but food.

3. Teach your daughter to work with what she’s got and love what she’s got. Tall, short, fat, thin, your daughter is beautiful – inside and out. Make sure you tell her all the time and make sure she believes it.

4. Teach your daughter to like and respect herself and demand respect from those around her. She might end up lonely at times, but at least she won’t be a doormat.

5. Teach your daughter that “fish lips” photos are never appropriate and never attractive.

6. Teach your daughter to value herself enough to defend herself – physically and verbally. Let your daughter watch “The Burning Bed.” She’ll never forget it and she’ll always know she has “options” if she finds herself in an abusive relationship.

7. Teach your daughter to go easy on the plastic surgery.

8. Teach your daughter to be strong and confident in her abilities and not be afraid of failure. Teach her that sometimes she will fail, but she can’t let that fear stop her from trying something.

9. Teach your daughter that she has the right to get loud. Make sure she knows girls can get angry, they can have opinions and they can throw “lady like” behavior out the window if necessary.

10. Teach your daughter to never text/email/snail mail naked photos of herself to anyone. Ever. Ever. Ever.

11. Teach your daughter what a “douche canoe” is so she can avoid them.

12. Teach your daughter to never steal her best friend’s boyfriend. That’s just a real skank move. What is it that our mothers always told us? “Boys come and go, but girlfriends are forever.” Still true.

13. Teach your daughter that having her underwear and half her ass hanging out the back of her jeans is not attracting anyone substantial nor does it make her look smart – even in the library.

14. Never let your daughter wear clothing with sexually inappropriate “cutesy” sayings.

15. Teach your daughter that smart girls get further in life than slutty girls.

16. Teach your daughter to walk away from the teen magazines. There is so much pressure put on young girls these days to look pretty or hot it’s nauseating.

17. Don’t let your 9 year old dancer look like a 25 year Pussycat Doll.

18. Teach your daughter that bigger boobs isn’t necessarily a good thing.

19. Don’t let your daughter marry young. Encourage her to get out and see the world, live on her own and figure out who she is and what she wants in a partner before she settles down.

20. Teach your daughter that there’s nothing wrong with staying home on a Friday night and reading a good book, but try to get her to read more than just Chick Lit. Give her The Gift of Fear. This book really empowers women to spot danger signals. Unfortunately in the world we live in, this is an important gift to have.

21. Teach your daughter to beat the boys at their own games.

22. Teach your daughter to be able to laugh at herself and have a sense of humor. There are so many women I meet that say they have a sense of humor, but they really don’t.

23. Teach your daughter that the “Queen Bees” and “Wanna Bees” and “mean girls” are a waste of time and she should just invest in one or two great friends. 

24. Don’t allow her to pierce or tattoo her body until she’s on her own.

25. Teach your daughter that her choices in life are limitless. She really can do anything – except maybe use the Men’s Restroom.

Mothers & Daughters

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Jeff and I were lazy parents last night. We stuck the kids in our bed, put on a movie and decided they could just fall asleep without teeth brushing, stories and songs.

The two of us sat on the couch together; no computers, no kids. It was nice. We talked.

Jeff told me about how sweet Lily has been with him lately.

The night before, when he tucked her in, the two of them lay side by side in her twin bed and reminisced. He told the story of the night he fell in love with her, in her lilac room in our very first house. She was a few months old and crying in her crib. He went it to console her and she looked up at him, smiled and he melted, as only a father can.

He told her of the time when he’d been away on business and came home and she was so happy to see him that she cried tears of joy as she hugged him close. She teared up and cuddled with him, remembering that feeling. They traded countless stories and laughed and dozed off together.

She’s been amazing, lately, Jeff said, his voice shaking. Fathers and daughters, I sighed.

He looked at me, expectantly.

She told me she hated me four times today, I contributed.

Mothers and daughters.