Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Letter to My Teen on Valentine's Day

Dear Baby Girl,

Your Pops tells me that at times I have been a little hard on men in general.
I came into the world ready to fight for women (insert kindergarten story of almost being expelled over the letter people here, and of course pre-school me thinking I should be able to tee-tee standing up).

Believing that men and women are really equal is a hard lot in life. You have to be prepared to be disappointed. In others. In yourself.

But most importantly, you have to learn grace and the ability to look at people as just that, people. Flawed. Messy. Undeserving. And wonderful. Just like you.

It took me over 35 years to realize that though I'd always championed women's rights, I had never fought for myself. 35 years is a long time to not be kind to yourself. To not realize it is OK to love yourself and put yourself first some of the time. 35 years is way too long to not understand that God CREATED YOU, you! And HE loves you, just as you are. So it is really ok to love yourself too, however that looks for you.

And when you realize that you are worth dying for, that Jesus would have come to the cross for you alone, it will make you much more particular about those people you invite to love you.

And though I still believe a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle, I'm glad that this fish found her Schwinn.

Because it is Valentine's Day and because one day you will notice, really notice, the boys who already notice you, it is my hope that you will listen to your mom on this one......

When you are ready to invite people to love you...

1.Find someone who is proud to show you off and vice versa.
Treat your body well. Walk it, feed it healthy food. Let it enjoy treats sometimes. Take it out in the sunshine. Let it rest at night.

Pretend your body is a puppy, and you will do fine.

If someone wants to date you, marry you, be friends with you, you wouldn't trade in your puppy that you love and care for because someone else wanted a different one. Same is true for your body. The right friends and partner will love you and be proud of you.

Think of all the IG posts with cute dogs....Love yourself that much.

2. If anyone (male or female) hits you, curses you, belittles you, threatens you...makes you feel unsafe in any way, walk out.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE PERMISSION TO LEAVE, just walk away. And find safety and shelter.

Then come tell your mother. She is a little crazy. Your stepfather is quiet, but he has a lot of country in his blood. We will help you handle that. No questions asked.

3. Find friends and partners that make you better, that want you to succeed at what you want to do. If they can't support your crazy desire to finish your history degree and one day work in a bookstore and be an acupuncturist, don't let them occupy space in your head.

4. Wait to have sex.
Really, wait.
There are so many reasons: disease, pregnancy, death. Honoring yourself and God with your body.

But if nothing else hits home remember this: if you wouldn't let them see you pooping on a toilet (I'm not saying you have to be willing to invite them in, but...) don't have sex with them.

Here's why. Sex is intimate; you know the mechanics because I've made you sit through the talk a lot; but it is also emotional and personal and NOT AT ALL like movies or TV, even good sex doesn't have a sound track in real life.

One night I got up to use the rest room; I shut the door and turned on the faucet for background noise and within a minute or two had a wicked Charley horse. I couldn't stretch; I couldn't stand up. I couldn't do anything but yell out, "L____ come help me." And he did. Sat on the bathroom floor, while I was on the commode, massaging my calve with ice until I could stand up.

That's love that is sex-worthy. (And it goes both ways. I have a similar story where I'm the knight on the white horse, but L___ can tell that one if he ever writes a blog.)

You have an Aunt Sheridan (who you have never met) who once gave me really good marriage advice, "You're going to be shitting in the same toilet as this person for the rest of your life. Make sure you can commit to that."

If you can't see yourself willing to deal with them on the toilet, skip the sex.

5. Enjoy your life.
Take on the adventures, big or small.
Invite people in who make it better.

If you think about skipping a summer trip to Russia in the 8th grade because of a boy, we will need to talk.

6. Find someone who continually seeks God. You will be better for it.

7. Most importantly, remember that it matters more that you're happy alone. No other person is going to complete you. So don't look for someone to fix you, save you, love you out of whatever it've got to love yourself enough to do that.

So your Pops may be right: I am hard on the men in the world because I deserved the best one for me, and so, facey girl, do you.

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