I have seen a trend lately on my newsfeed and in the pages I follow — cute “advice” pieces that writers are penning to their young daughters, in the hopes they will pass on some of their worldly knowledge. The idea is attractive, a lovely thought; something to pass on, their most cherished and hard won possession — their wisdom.
The trouble is there seems to be a huge disconnect between the “advice” these well-meaning mothers are dispensing and the reality their daughters will actually be living in. One of these lovely pieces included the plea “please don’t have sex until you’re ready for babies.”
This is assuming a lot of your poor daughter’s future self. Should she abstain from sex for the duration of her life if she chooses to — gasp — not have children? Does this mom understand that it is a very real and acceptable possibility that her daughter may decide she wants to enjoy sex and not immediately be thrown into the complete clusterfuck of terror and elation we call motherhood? I got pregnant on our first try — twice! If I had never had sex except to make babies I would have missed out on a ridiculous amount of orgasms, and that would be a damn shame because orgasms are awesome.
I don’t really want to think about my daughter (or anyone in my family) having an orgasm; it’s a profoundly personal and intimate aspect of being human — but I would never wish them to be deprived of it so I can feel righteously placated — I am not the pleasure police.
I’m not saying I’m going to love it if my teen chooses to wear a “boob shirt” out with her friends, or post questionable selfies on her instagram (if that’s even a thing in 10-15 years), but it will only be because I know a dump truck of vitriol will inevitably be dumped on her as a result. Part of me wants to protect her always, and another part is livid at the absurdity of having to feel that way at all. Let’s all agree, no mater where we stand, to just do better for our daughters until the world catches up.
Daughter, this is my list of advice to you. Hopefully it serves you better than the others, but as with most things in life, experience is the best vessel for epiphanies and I hope you take all advice (even mine) with a grain of salt — because who am I to decide what you prioritize in life:
1. Be kind, until it’s time to not be kind.
You will get better at knowing where this line is the older you get, until then, be polite but embrace the power of “no thanks, I’d rather not give up my only day off this week to volunteer as parasite checker for the kindy class.” (Yes I had to say that, and no I don’t feel bad.)
2. Prioritize your people.
Find the good ones, people you can trust, confide in and call at 4 a.m. when you’re too drunk to remember where your purse is. Love them, remember their birthday and send a text (or whatever it’s called) when applicable.
3. Resist the media.
The message crammed down your throat from the time you are a child until you hit menopause is “Be beautiful, it’s all that defines your worth.” On the surface we know this is not true, yet it permeates our culture and is regurgitated frequently directly into our mouths. Remember that the flawless women in magazines don’t even look like that in real life — so don’t expect your wonderful body to fit into that mold (it doesn’t exist).
4. Have safe and good sex.
Enjoy exploring your body alone and with a partner. Make sure he or she cares about you and your pleasure, and if it ever feels wrong, stop.
5. If you ever bring a boy home for dinner and your father, uncle or brother start pulling some patriarchal bullshit and acting rude or possessive of you — remind them of your strength and intelligence.
You know how to choose a good partner to date/fuck/marry because we raised you to know. (On a side note, if this ever does happen at a gathering, can you please slam your fist on the table and scream “My choices are my own, bitches!” I have always wanted this to happen in rom-coms).
6. Life can be shitty sometimes; find something that grounds you.
Whether that is sports, working out, painting, or even watching shitty TV. Things will usually get better with time, that being said make sure you take care of your mental health, your father and I are huge therapy fans. Ok, I am a huge fan, he shows up and that’s just fine.
7. You don’t owe anyone anything.
Be kind in your decisions regarding other people, but you are not required to be anyone’s punching bag, therapist, emotional coach or sex toy. Tend to your own happiness first because you can’t pour from an empty cup. (I’m sorry that is the worst cliché but it does hold water — har, har).
8. I will never judge you for your life decisions.
But I may offer an opinion of two (sorry, I am still your mom).
9. Stay away from internet advice!
Too much of it is tainted with backwards thinking religious zealots packaging their oppressive ideals into cute easily digested think pieces. Believe me, I have googled the following: “marriage advice,” “marriage is hard,” “why are men like this?” “Seriously, marriage advice that is NOT from the bible” — all with the same results and, unfortunately, it often falls just short of equality and leaves a weird shameful aftertaste in your mouth.
10. You don’t have to smile. Ever.
I am sorry to say you will probably inherit the resting bitch face that afflicts all women in our family. You will forever be asked “what’s wrong?” by friends, partners, strangers, and family. It’s annoying as hell. Feel free to tell them you’re contemplating the inevitable demise of our planet and the human race, then they will look sad too.
11. You can just be single, forever.
Despite what everything else in this culture tells you, you don’t have to have someone else in your life to be happy or vital — plus, all the blankets are yours and you can get a dog.
12. If you find yourself pregnant, I will help/support you to the best of my ability, in whatever choice you make.
I love you, and have chosen to remain anonymous for this post to protect your privacy (and save you from inevitable embarrassment), but also to protect my own sanity. I would like to think this article is not that controversial, but I know better. We are still scandalized to think about our daughters as anything but fragile china dolls that are sexless until such an age as it is acceptable to bear children. Maybe I should be more brave, set an example — but the truth is that gets exhausting very quickly and I have non-baby-making orgasms to enjoy.
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