Pain passes…

Dear Daughter,

A few minutes ago, I swung my legs up from the floor onto the couch (which is the cozy spot where I write these letters). When I made that move, I thought about how difficult it would have been to do that just three months ago, when I was recovering from my c-section surgery. At that time, moving at all was painful, let alone anything requiring ab muscles. Raising my feet from the ground to the couch or bed was a slow process that involved a lot of cringing, wincing and even some tears. I remember thinking at that time that it would never get better, that the pain would never go away.

But it did.

This got me thinking about pain, both physical and emotional. When you’re hurting, it permeates your entire sense of being. You can’t think about anything else because the pain is so intense it’s crippling. What once seemed like an effortless, involuntary task can now feel like the most difficult thing in the world. Relief seems like light years away. You begin to wonder if this is your new reality, if you’re going to have to hurt for the rest of your life.

I think about the times I’ve been dumped by a boy, which is arguably one of the most painful experiences one can go through. They call it a “broken” heart for a reason. During those breakups, I couldn’t eat or sleep or write my name without thinking about the rejection. I would wake up and hope that it was just a bad dream. But it wasn’t. It was real. So I had to live another day dealing with this weight of grief.

Wounds do heal, though, slowly but surely. They start to scab, to toughen, so that after awhile they’re not so tender anymore. After every breakup, I made it through each day a little better than the last, and before long, the good moments outweighed the bad. I didn’t forget about the pain completely. I’m still always aware of what caused it so that I can try to keep it from happening again. But even though the memory is still there, the heartache is long gone.

Daughter, both your body and your heart will be hurt many times throughout your life. When you’re going through that pain, remember that it WILL get better. The pain WILL fade away and before long you’ll be swinging your legs up onto the couch like it’s the easiest thing in the world. You will survive this, and you’ll be a better, stronger person because of it.

Love,
Mom

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This is how Time works

Dear Daughter,

I don’t care what anyone tells you… Time is not a measure, it is a being. A living, breathing, bipolar being. I swear it has a personality. Multiple, actually. One minute, Time can be your best friend and another? Your worst enemy. It likes to mess with you too, that Time. It makes you think you’ll have lots of it and then, out of nowhere, it’s gone. And yet, it’s always there. It’s enough to drive a grown woman mad.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about Time through the years:

1) Time really does fly when you’re having fun. It’s one of life’s cruelest realities, right up there with the fact that healthy food tastes bad and unhealthy food tastes good. Say you’re in Aruba for your honeymoon. At first you think five days in Aruba is a long time. But the bright and sunny days pass by as quickly as the waves of the Aruban shore. And before you know it, you’re gripping onto your beach chair for dear life, forcing your husband to pry your fingers from it and tell you to get moving already so you don’t miss your flight. This is strictly hypothetical, of course.

2) It also flies when you have things to do. I always, always underestimate the amount of time it will take me to do my Saturday chores (cleaning the house, grocery shopping, laundry, etc.) Throughout the week, I tend to put things off until the weekend because I think I’ll have all the Time in the world. But when you lump it all into one day, it’s like Time speeds up just to mess with you. You end up accomplishing two out of the eight things on your to-do list, which makes you feel like a big whopping failure. Depressing, I know. The point here is to have low expectations. I normally would  never recommend that but in this case, it seems to be the only way to end the day not wanting to punish yourself.

3) It does NOT fly when you’re at work or school. I think when we’re in situations where we’re bored, we’re just more aware of time. So we look at the clock more often, only to see that just two minutes have passed, not the 30 minutes we were hoping for. This can be fixed, at work anyway, by referring to #2 above. If you make sure you have a lot of work to do, Time will pass more quickly, and before you know it you’ll be on your way home, singing “Forget You” at the top of your lungs and contemplating whether or not to cook that healthy chicken dish tonight or just pick up a junior cheeseburger deluxe from Wendys. Once again: hypothetical.

4) Sometimes it stands still. These moments are rare, and they can be good or bad. It could happen when you see a loved one who’s been gone for a long time, or during an accident when your life flashes before your eyes. Whenever it does happen, take note and etch it into your memory. When time stands still, it’s because your life is about to change.

The bottom line is to make the most of Time. There are 24 hours in a day—always has been, always will be. Knowing that, and knowing the four rules above, get ahead of Time. Don’t let it control you. Know what to expect and plan accordingly. Spend your Time on things that matter. (For the record, sometimes what matters is alone time and family time. Just saying you don’t always have to be productive.) And as much as Time will drive you crazy, it really is precious. Don’t waste it.

Love,
Mom

The proliferation of sex

Dear Daughter,

Sex is everywhere.

It’s on TV, magazine covers, in movies, music… you can’t be in touch with the outside world and NOT see or hear something about sex, really. In just the past few years, it’s become one of the most (if not THE most) prolific topics in our culture.

It’s difficult for parents to know how to handle this. We need to be more vigilant than ever to monitor what you’re seeing and hearing. But sometimes our vigilance falls short, or we’re not cautious enough. Other times we’re straight-up paranoid. If we don’t make it to the radio dial in time to keep you from hearing Jessie J belt out, “I’m feeling sexy and free,” we worry that you’ll be messed up for life. Like you’ll be lying around a crack house someday saying, “If only I didn’t hear the ‘S’ word in that song Domino when I was 9, my life could have been different…”

So yeah, sometimes we parents go overboard in trying to shelter you. But for the most part, I don’t think we do enough. I know for a fact that I don’t do enough. I sometimes take for granted that you’re a kid and you don’t even notice that half the stuff you see and hear is inappropriate. I cling to the fact that you haven’t had the life experience to know whether or not something is wrong. But my denial is foolish. Because there are plenty of other times when you DO hear the “S” word and look at me to see if I noticed it too. Or you cover your eyes when you see a young couple kissing passionately on a TV show commercial (many of which are shown on ABC Family. “Family,” really? That station is one of the worst for playing adult-themed shows/films.)

The thing is, I can’t shelter you from the proliferation of sex completely, unless I were to take away TV, movies, music… school. It’s everywhere and really can’t be avoided. And it shouldn’t be avoided altogether because you need to learn how to make good decisions despite all the junk being thrown in your face. It IS my responsibility as a parent, however, to teach you the good from the bad. To try to keep the bad away while you are young and innocent, but also to establish a foundation of purity, self-esteem and confidence in you so that, when the bad does leak through, you won’t be deterred by it.

Sex is everywhere. And our culture likes to make you think it’s everything. But it doesn’t have to be, and it’s my job to teach you that.

Love,
Mom