Advice To The Daughter I May Never Have

by Toby Herman
Originally Published: 

Hi, Sweetheart.

I thought it was time that I sat down and put some advice together for you. Neither of us is getting any younger—me in particular, since you don’t exist. But I think of you often and do hope this little collection of thoughts helps you navigate through life, should you have one!

Read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.

Take yourself on dates.

Find something that is just yours.

Be bold.

Hold hands. It’s more intimate than you think.

Never keep a good book or album to yourself.

Go to the concert of a band you’ve never heard of.

Fall in love often. Guard your heart. Be a beautiful contradiction.

Find a bra that fits.

Don’t drive by his house.

Find something about yourself that you just love.

There is nothing a road trip can’t fix.

Flip cards over with the barcode facing out so the cashier can scan them more easily. Your grandmother taught me this.

Never trust a girl who doesn’t have any girlfriends.

Enjoy every first.

Celebrate your milestones—even when they look different than your friends’. Especially then.

Find something—and someone—to trust.

Learn how to say, “No.”

Absolutely no cats.

Find a lipstick that says what you don’t know how to.

Figure out your perfect nap scenario.

Only you can tell your story, so tell it well.

You are always skinnier than you think.

You will always run into him.

Write letters.

Patience is a virtue. Grandma Louise taught me that. I may name you after her, not sure.

Find a friend with whom you travel well.

Love your scars—they are your battle wounds.

Another text is never a good idea.

Take the time to dry your hair fully.

You’re going to want a female gynecologist.

Learn how to be alone.

When traveling abroad, arm yourself with the following phrases: Where’s the bathroom? How much? That’s too much. Don’t touch me.

Make peace with the fact that some friendships are not supposed to sustain.

Words that describe love are all active and violent and messy because that’s what love is: crush, heartbreak, dumped, breakup, falling. It is also glorious and necessary. Run toward it, always.

Send your kids to camp.

Bend with your knees.

Buy yourself tulips. Put a penny in the bottom of the vase. They’ll stay straighter.

Have a favorite movie to fall asleep to.

Wax and polish your body and your car.

Learn what’s under the hood for both.

Always have an exit plan and a crying staircase.

Savor the smiles you hear on the other end of the line.

Gather stories and friends—together, whenever possible.

No, really—don’t drive by his house.

Bangs grow out.

Shoes always fit.

Gin is trouble.

Learn all the words to one really great song. I suggest “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen. I may name you after him, not sure.

Always pack more pills than days you’ll be away.

Honor intent. Someone may not know how to execute for shit, but respect what they’re trying to do.

Learn how to make my Grammy’s kugel. It always tastes better the next day.

Talk to strangers. Make friends in the bathroom.

Repeat after me: Thank you. (That’s how to take a compliment.)

Watch Friday Night Lights.

Hear someone when they tell you about yourself. They may be way off, but that’s the “you” that’s showing.

Have a friend you go to for tough love.

Have a no-questions-asked friend who’ll just show up with the shovel.

Do not apologize for who you are. Only for how you use it.

Discover your superpower.

When in doubt, don’t.

Somebody always misses you.

Know your best friend’s handwriting.

When you drive by his house, do it at night. Lights off. Windows up. Radio off. Preferably in a car that’s not yours.

And for fuck’s sake, duck down.

Love, Mom

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