Sunday, August 8, 2010

Advice I would give my daughter (if I had one)

Recently I read an article by a woman who, while completely content to be raising two sons, wondered sometimes what life would have been with a daughter. She realized she had banked so many words of wisdom that could only be dispensed to another female, so in one cleansing article, she listed the top words of advice she offered to the daughter she would never have.

I have two sons, and honestly, I never wished for a daughter.

OK, that's a lie. There have been times when I have been around little girls, or had the opportunity to spend the day with someone else's daughter, and it is certainly pleasantly different. The activities. The discussions. The music. The overall odor.

My fear in having a daughter was that she would turn out like me. That may not be such a bad thing now, but I sure put my mom through the ringer as a pre-teen and teen, and looking back, I saw no reason to have my daughter pay THAT forward. So when the ultrasound tech told me that my second baby was in fact a boy, I cried. She patted my shoulder. "I'm sorry," she said. "You wanted a girl." "No!" I replied. "I'm just so happy it's a boy!"

Teenage years aside, I think I might have been a good mom to a girl. I think I went through just about everything during those trying years - body image issues, moving, starting a new school, bad clothing choices, bad boyfriend choices, heartache, loneliness, Chinese fire drills... you know, the works. Even though my daughter probably wouldn't listen to any advice I gave her at the time, I thought I'd pen my Top 25 Words of Wisdom for the Daughter I'll Never Have:

1. If you're my daughter, you'll always be flat-chested. It will suck at times, and it will make you self-conscious. Just buy the padded bra, stand up straight, and know that your true love will never love you because of your hooters.

2. You know those popular people in high school you admire and want to be accepted by? Don't try so hard to be like them. Years later you will see that some of them lived up to it and became extremely successful. Others crashed and burned. In the end, it all evens out.

3. Have a part-time job in high school. Learn to work hard, juggle a job and school, and manage your money wisely. It won't get any easier.

4. Go to the gynecologist when you're 16. It's important. Go with me or take someone with you and just get a checkup and find out what you're all about in there. Don't wait until you HAVE to go and end up alone in an exam room with a doctor who doesn't speak English. You will cry and it will be horrible.

5. Never beg a guy to love you, take you back, or not break up with you. It makes you look desperate and makes him want to get away from you even more. You may lose him, but you will keep your pride. Believe me, by the time he tells you goodbye, he's already been gone for awhile.

6. There will be a time when you will be so sad you literally won't know what to do. Lean on me, or if you can't, lean on your friends. If they're good friends they'll listen to you cry at any hour of the night, hold your hand or bring you a sandwich when you haven't eaten in three days.

7. Remember your saddest time, and next time you are sad, realize that it won't be as bad as that time.

8. Be as smart as you are. Study in high school. Go to college. Study in college. Keep a decent GPA. It does matter, and employers will ask you for it for years to come. Don't be embarrassed at age 43 that it was barely a 3.0.

9. Find a college that you can see yourself at for four years. If you're not ready, don't go. Attend a community college, work part-time and save money. Don't stop going to school until you have that degree, no matter how long it takes you.

10. Buy fad clothes cheaply; spend more on classics. Make sure you have a nice pair of black slacks, a black skirt, a couple of dress blouses and a blazer or two in your closet. And a nice pair of black pumps. Those are timeless, and I guarantee you'll be wearing them long after the low-rise jeans and peasant blouses are out of style.

11. Never color your hair yourself (or have a friend do it). This is something that should be left to the professionals. If you decide to do it yourself, do it on a weekday when you can be sure to get in for an emergency re-color with your local stylist, who will berate you then fix the damage.

12. There's trashy-sexy and classy-sexy. Try for the latter - and if you can't pull it off, just be classy.

13. If you decide to grow your hair out, do it. When it gets to that point where you can't stand it and want to cut it, put on a hat and deal with it. It'll be worth it.

14. Never date anyone who wants to change you. If he makes you grow, that's different. But never give up who you are to try to fit someone else's mold.

15. Don't expect anyone to ever do anything for you. This is not to say they won't, but you should always have the skill and knowledge and wherewithal to do it yourself if you must. Not only will this make you independent, it will make you proud of yourself.

16. Buy a toolkit. And not a chintzy one. Craftsman is good. Make sure you know what all the tools do. Throw in an electric screwdriver and drill and learn how to use them.

17. Know where the water shut-off valve is in your house.

18. Women's intuition does exist. Don't ignore it. Ever.

19. Don't date a man that no one likes. You may be able to get by with it for awhile, but if your friends and family don't like him, then you're not seeing the forest for the trees.

20. When you have your first child, it may not be that incredibly happy, bonding moment that all the mommy books rave about. You may feel detached, exhausted, overwhelmed and even resentful for everything you've just been through and the challenges that lie ahead. It's OK to feel that way, but tell someone who can help you do something about it.

21. When the right one comes along, you WILL know it. If you think, "Well, I guess this is it", it's not. Wait. Better to be alone than to be with the wrong guy.

22. If you're like me, you'll have a small circle of close friends. In your younger years, you will be envious of those who seem to have friends everywhere. Stop it. Lavish in your luckiness at what you have, and keep those friends close. Treat them well.

23. If you're drunk, go home. But don't drive. And don't think it's cool to be drunk. It may be fun, but you won't remember it and it makes you look stupid. And as far as drugs, sure, go ahead. Try pot. Remember how out-of-control you will feel. If you're your mother's daughter, you won't like that feeling and will never do it again.

24. At some point, you'll realize what colors look best on you. Have lots of those in your wardrobe, but don't be afraid to go outside the box, even if I tell you red isn't your color. And I won't.

25. Remember who bore and raised you and don't ever stop trying to thank them. The older you get, the smarter and cooler they will become, until you will actually enjoy hanging out with them. Know that you will never know how much they love you until you have children of your own. And when it hits you, it will be overwhelming and you will feel incredibly blessed.

Moms with daughters? How'd I do? Anything you would add to the list?


  1. just know how to pull at every emotional string sometimes. My girls are young, but I'm saving these 25 points because I couldn't have worded it any better. Thank you for reaffirming all those wonderful points that I need to talk about before their grown.

  2. I don't have kids of my own yet, but I wish I could've read this 10 years ago. Thanks for posting!

  3. Love your Aunts... especially the super cool ones... because they love you immensely.

  4. love this miss amy! as on~ and just as norma raised my sisters and me.
    i would add that every girl needs a sister and if your parents didn't give you one, then god will help you find one.
    keep her close.

  5. You nailed this, Amy! You came up with things that I didn't even think about telling my girls! When you are "in the moment" of raising girls it's difficult to do anything but scream or cry and ask yourself why they hate you. Fortunately for me, they now think I'm cool and tell me I did a good job with the advice, even if they didn't listen to it at the time. The one who is now a mommy understands!


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