The year is 2001 and I’m about 6 years old. We’re eating dinner as a family, I am chowing down, my little sister has set up all her plastic animals around her plate, and my dad turns to me –
‘What?’ I say through a mouthful of food
‘I love you’ my dad replies.
I scowl at him, but he just looks at me with a smug smile because he had just won the game.
The game was simple. The object of the game was to say I love you first. If I had been on the ball that day – as soon as he said my name I would’ve said ‘I love you’ and then I would’ve won.
This might be the simplest game on the entire planet, but I’m only beginning to realize now how important it was that I played this game with my dad specifically, from before I can even remember.
See, the thing is, the older I get, the more people I meet, the more families I hear about – and unfortunately, the more examples of terrible fatherhood I am exposed to.
Don’t get me wrong – mothers can mess it up too – but fatherhood seems to be more commonly treated as optional. Must be the whole ‘didn’t-actually-grow-the-baby-inside-you’ thing but every time I hear one of these stories – I’m almost reduced to tears out of gratitude for my own father.
That game we used to play is a perfect example of why I appreciate him so much. My dad has never really been shy about sharing his feelings or opinions. When I was younger, this manifested itself into numerous fights since apparently, we are of exactly the same temperament, but as I grow into early adulthood I’ve realized just how influential his expression of emotions has been for me.
He was never shy about telling me he loved me, that he supported me, or even that he was frustrated with me. And he didn’t just tell me – he would show it too. He picked me and my sister up from school almost every day when we were little. He would set boundaries for me when I was out of line. He made full-on sausage McMuffin sandwiches from scratch for my whole varsity swim team when it was my turn to bring breakfast in the morning. He’s the reason I have such an insatiable travel bug. But maybe most importantly – he always believed in my ability to do absolutely whatever I said I wanted to do and has always been there for me when things didn’t work out.
Somewhere around age nineteen, my dad even became the person I would go to for advice on guys/relationships. I can call him for everything from a mid-crying jag breakdown over something silly all the way to how exactly I should break up with a guy I’m just not feeling it with. He is a man, after all, I honestly don’t even know why it took me until age nineteen to start listening to his perspective – he hasn’t really been wrong yet.
But it’s not just guys – he’s really there for me no matter what. I have many an existential crisis and he’s always willing to sit with me and help me through it. Toxic masculinity who?
Maybe it’s a European thing. Maybe it’s just my dad’s brand of being a dad. His birthday is coming up this Friday and even though he’s in Greece per usual this time of year – I still wanted to go ahead and type this out because I’m so so grateful for him. You don’t get to choose your parents, and sometimes that can turn out less than ideal, but with every single passing day – I’m so thankful I ended up with mine.
It’s Thanksgiving week which means we’re all thinking about one of two things – the food or what we’re thankful for (or perhaps the devastating effects of colonization, but I’ll leave it up to you). In any case, gratitude should be a part of this week, and some would argue that it should be a part of daily life. Gratitude is definitely having a moment in the self-care space with people spouting all kinds of practices surrounding it that promise to increase happiness and decrease stress. There are multiple different ways to integrate it into daily life that can be far more impactful than just spending a few days on it each year.
In my opinion, the thing people most often miss about gratitude is the feeling of intention, which can be applied to a much wider range of things than the big ideas. Of course, I’m enormously grateful for my loving family, my friends, my health, the fact that I have no problem affording all the basic necessities in life. But those are easy to think about – because they are so ever present. So I stop actively thinking about how much they do for me. They are huge facets of my life and I would sound insane if I said I wasn’t grateful for them but they aren’t the only things to be grateful for.
What about all the little things? I personally prefer spending a little time each day being grateful for little things. I spend maybe a minute every day thinking about three small things I’m grateful for and, I hate to sound cliche, it does improve my day.
For example, on Thursday of last week, I wrote down that I was grateful for having a good hair day, that my sister always picks up the phone when I need to cry, and I was grateful for that the sun had come out that day. These are random, the first things that came to mind as I started the exercise, nothing groundbreaking.
But the reason this works for me is that throughout the day I inevitably get stressed a little bit – I’m high strung what can I tell you – and thinking about these little things in the morning gives me something to come back to when I start to get angry or annoyed. Don’t get me wrong, I still let the negative emotions flow, but I don’t spiral because my gratitude practice produces this little nagging voice at the back of my mind that is actually positive. I’ll be frustrated at the slow response from a team member and the voice will say ‘yeah that sucks, but look outside. Look at how the sun sparkles off the lake’ and then I can’t really marinate in my misery quite as well with that little thought peeking through.
That is the power of gratitude. If you find new things to be grateful for every day then the feeling retains its impact. You don’t feel the need to roll your eyes at yourself for picking the same things. You’re allowed to be grateful for the same things all the time, but you’re also allowed to be grateful for things that only apply to you – the seemingly small things, the seemingly insignificant things. Because if you allow yourself to intentionally feel for them, you may end up with more positivity than you thought.
I’ve been privileged in the fact that I have never truly hated my body. Sure I’ve had bad days where I harp on my supposed physical flaws more than normal, but for the vast majority of my life (yes, even including puberty) I have maintained an above-average level of body confidence.
This can be attributed to a few things throughout my childhood, but perhaps the most important one was that I learned to not hate my body through example.
Growing up, my mom was the main female figure in my life. I have always thought my mom was tall, beautiful, and strong. And perhaps this can be attributed to a child’s reverence for their parent but here’s the thing – my mom has never, ever given me a reason to believe that she isn’t any of those things.
I can’t remember my mom ever saying she hated her own body – or even really expressing that much discontentment about it at all. Her body is her body and although she strives to take care of it, it doesn’t consume her life. She’s never acted ashamed of it and has appeared to embrace any scars or imperfections that it endured.
Hold on for a second and think about that. I was living in my mom’s house for eighteen years and in all of that time, I cannot think of ONE time where my mom seemed to be depressed about her body. Not ONE time where her insecurity seemed to get the better of her. Not ONE time where she tried to hide her body out of shame. That was a powerful message for me.
Furthermore, her attitude towards caring for her body was always rooted in feeling rather than aesthetics. My mom loves to run. And growing up, I remember her always coming back from a run saying something like “that felt good” or “I feel so much better now”. It was never about losing weight or shaping her body to fit some sort of ideal. She ran because it FELT good and she enjoyed it. Simple as that. This is HUGE to the way I approach fitness nowadays. The goal for me is never really to look a certain way, it’s to feel a certain way, and the way I look is merely a by-product of that feeling. This makes my fitness habit not only more sustainable, but it makes me look at my body positively no matter what it looks like on a given day, because I learned that the act of taking care of it is what actually improves my mood – not the mirror.
When it came to diet, my family always ate relatively healthy, but my mom has a huge sweet tooth. And if she ate a whole bunch of chocolate in one sitting – she never expressed any real guilt over it, she would enjoy the chocolate and move on with her life. This may seem small, but I realized that I, too, don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying sweets or anything supposedly ‘bad’ for me. I just enjoy it and move on.
Because my mom has always taken such good care of her body – she’s never been limited. When I was little she would be able to wrestle and do tickle fights with me and my sister. She was able to wipe the floor with us in basketball (this one is probably still true), and she could walk or hike for miles if a trip demanded it. Even now, she’s still able to participate in any and all activities our family encounters. Her body never limits her because she looks after it.
My mom is over fifty years old now (I hope she doesn’t kill me for exposing that) and she could still pass for being over a decade younger. She doesn’t work out like a maniac, doesn’t do any crazy diets, she’s had two kids, but she’s still able to be active and participate in pretty much anything that comes her way. So that’s the ideal I learned to strive towards. I don’t ever need to look a certain way, but should strive to feel a certain way and by doing so, I don’t ever have to limit myself in the process.
My mom’s birthday is this week and there is so much to thank her for, but a blog post is merely a blog post so I wanted to focus on something that she probably didn’t even realize she did for me, but that has made a huge impact on my self-confidence. Body image is something that so many women and men struggle with every day and I’m lucky enough to have a mom that protected me from most of the insecurity the media tells me I’m supposed to have.
I wrote this post a couple weeks back about how much I get done in a day. I got quite a few responses on and offline showing interest and/or amazement at my strict productivity routines.
These routines come at a cost though. Yes, I get pretty much every single thing I want to get done – done. But it requires a huge amount of planning, little room for error, and almost zero room for true spontaneity.
Consider for a moment what your life could look like if you implemented my routines. Maybe you’d feel productive, motivated, fit, busy. Now imagine what it must be like to live with me.
Structured, strict, intense.
When I was younger, believe it or not, I was even more uptight, so my sister bore the brunt of my unyielding need for routine. For example, I needed to be half-hour early to school (elementary school) – don’t ask why, there was no good reason – and if my sister put this arrival time in jeopardy, I lost my mind. I started screaming, crying, yelling at her to hurry up.
I have since mellowed out in my responses on the surface to unpredictability, but it still causes a sense of panic internally all the same.
My routines also require a huge amount of discipline. It’s not easy to make myself workout, study, work, prepare, and plan every single day. I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I basically want to be good at everything – and this pressure on myself is ever-present.
If I happen to be in a relationship, I treat it the same as my other endeavors – I prioritize it, make time for it, and work on it. But I also end up holding my partners to the same standards I hold myself, and when my expectations aren’t met, disappointment is inevitable.
Consequently, I always feel caught. I know putting my expectations on others is unfair, and a surefire way to experience disappointment more often than satisfaction, but I also feel like I deserve someone who also holds themselves to high standards. I feel like if the other person doesn’t want to hold themselves to a similar bar then the relationship is doomed to fail anyway, because I will always be pushing forward on myself, on the relationship, on everything – no matter what.
I haven’t really figured out how to feel about this part of myself yet. I know that holding myself to high standards is one of the things I like best about myself, but it might be hindering my relationships with others and causing unnecessary frustration.
For now, I’m not planning on backing off – I do have a lot of shit to do – but I do want to spend some time learning about the areas where I am willing to compromise because ultimately, sweating the small stuff won’t get me anywhere.
Someone once told me that people can be like seasons. They come, they serve their purpose in the big picture of your life, and then they go. For a while, that sentiment was comforting to me as I grew apart from friends or went through breakups, but I’ve realized it’s just not true.
First of all, seasons come, go, and then they come back again. Seasons represent a cycle. Things are born, they thrive, they decay, and then they die. But they are born again in the next cycle. The cycle is certain, it is measured, it is reliable. People are none of those things.
Seasons also remain unaffected by any amount of labor or feeling invoked as a response to them. Loving summer ardently will do no more to extend it’s time with us, than despising winter would to shorten its time frosting the ground.
People respond. People cling to the things they love and shuck away the things they hate with surprising fervor. People are willing to work to have more love and less hate and they feel their work makes a difference on others.
Relationships are work. There is some chemistry involved, some chance – but mostly work. You work to stay in touch, you work to talk, you work to do things together. Maybe you don’t notice this work at first because you have so much fun with them. They live close by, they understand you! But then one of you moves away, or gets a different job, or meets a new partner – then you’ve put stress on it. Tell me it isn’t work now.
When a relationship fades to black it’s not a matter of irreconcilable differences or distance – it’s a lack of work. One party refuses to work as hard as the other to nourish the relationship. One party decides to be mean or lazy or to simply ignore the work at hand. A relationship is a more fragile creature than any of us care to admit. It can only survive for so long as a one-sided endeavor.
Sometimes both parties say we should not be as close – we will work less on each other. And that’s ok. But if you’ve ever let a relationship go without that conversation, then don’t kid yourself, you just weren’t willing to work for it. Communication and connection are dead.
And if you’re on the other side – it hurts. To go from something close and meaningful to nothing at all feels desolate, and what’s worse, unnecessary. Someone has chosen to stop talking to you, to stop texting you things that remind you of them, to stop making an effort to see you. And if you hadn’t chosen that same path, then you always wonder what you could’ve possibly done to make them choose that.
The unfortunate thing is – most of us don’t realize we make this choice. Excuses are rampant as disguises for it – “it’s been crazy at work” “what time zone are you in again?” when in reality we just haven’t put much thought or planning into the relationship anymore, and we probably never will again.
Sometimes, people are like seasons, sometimes they come back. But most times, once they’re gone, they’re gone forever – so don’t let the good ones go.
I feel like I’ve been talking about dating apps with a lot of my friends recently, more specifically about how unsatisfying they are. While there are a whole slew of problems with these apps that contribute to this feeling, today I’m only going to focus on one and how I specifically combat it by using, or rather, not using the apps.
The chief problem with these apps as I see it, is that they allow us to fall into the belief system that we can actually find a PERFECT partner for ourselves. Because we have access to a seemingly endless amount of potential matches, we allow ourselves to think that eventually, we must be able to discover the PERFECT one if we just swipe long enough. You may not think you do this – but I encourage you to be more self-critical. Have you ever swiped left on someone because they weren’t tall enough? Swiped left because their job wasn’t ambitious enough? Swiped left because they misspelled a word in the profile description? I definitely have. We think that because we have infinite choices, we can be infinitely discerning as well. We disguise these limitations as having ‘standards’, but more often than not the standards by which we are evaluating potential matches are society’s standards, not our own. Because the means by which we are normally able to evaluate matches – actual interaction – isn’t available.
Because here’s the thing – people are SO different in real life. I think about it this way – for me personally, out of the seven* guys I’ve gone on more than two dates with, I met six of them in person. And I wouldn’t have swiped right on ANY of those six had I spied their profile on a dating app. Not because they weren’t attractive, but because they totally aren’t the type that translates well on a dating app. They’re the type to post cheesy photos and simple profile descriptions if any so they just wouldn’t stand out on an app to me – but in person, I clicked really well with them. In person, I was able to evaluate by the standards that matter to me. Do they make me feel wanted? Do they make me feel safe? Do they make me laugh? Do they turn me on? And so on and so forth. Notice all of those questions have to do with how they make me FEEL which is impossible to tell on an app. The most you can do on a dating app is maybe send some flirty texts back and forth but until you meet in person you can’t know if you have that x-factor with someone because it’s just too detached.
I’m not saying you should give up on apps completely but they should definitely be taking a backseat to your other interactions – if you use them too frequently, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. So first and foremost, do you. Kill it at work, practice your hobbies or pick up a new one, watch Good Omens like you’ve been meaning to, read, workout, travel, spend time with your friends and your family. Fill your life to the brim with the things that already bring you joy and accomplishment. This will do two things – it reduces the time you have to merely swipe out of distraction, but it also makes your life fuller so that when you do meet someone you have that much more to bring to the table because you’ve actually been living a life instead of swiping it away.
Secondly, when you do use the apps, I only have two tips for you – prioritize the people that made an effort to talk to you first rather than just match, and then endeavor to meet up with whoever you take a liking to as soon as you can. As I mentioned before, it’s so hard to tell if you really click with someone unless you meet them. This also weeds out anyone who is just in it for the distraction as well as preventing the black hole of texting in circles.
Lastly, focus on meeting new people in person whenever possible. Whether it’s a work or networking event, or a friend’s party, you never know how far your circle truly expands and who might be able to introduce you to someone amazing.
*No I am not currently dating the 1 that I did meet on an app – that was a short six month relationship awhile ago.
I see you as you walk into the room and I feel my blood run hot. All long limbs, smooth skin, and a quick voice.
Now’s not the time, I think to myself. But I can’t help it. I watch you as you speak to everyone else but me. I watch your lips curl into a laugh. I watch the tendons in your wrist flex as you write.
I’m getting distracted. Every movement you make this morning I see in my memory of last night.
When I tell the story I can pretend that I was reluctant. I can pretend that I was naive, but we both know I wasn’t. I wanted you. I wanted your skin, your mouth, your hands.
And you wanted me. You ran every one of your fingertips across every inch of my skin and devoured my body.
My desire was powerful but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be perfect. Certain ideas prevail no matter the partner, but I didn’t care about those. I needed your nuances, your secrets. I needed to know what I could do so that I could permeate your mind and make myself irresistible to you.
But there’s no way I could’ve known those things. You don’t tell your secrets to someone you just met…yet it seemed like you knew the secrets of my body without ever having to hear me say them and that terrified me.
It terrified me because I hadn’t known I was out of my element. But it became apparent quickly that you seemed to know exactly how to touch me and I had no idea how to touch you. Everything I did from that point on became laced with doubt.
In the moment when I realized your actions betrayed nothing but confidence, my mind abandoned me. My want dissolved into anxiety. What if I was doing something wrong? What if my body looked unattractive from this angle? What if everyone you’d been with before was better?
My mind took my lack of knowledge of you and transmuted it into insecurity, which in turn, suffocated my passion. My mind never considered the possibility that you wanted to impress me as well. It wasn’t about my want anymore, it was only about your want.
I wanted to be wanted more than I wanted to satiate my own want. If I couldn’t satisfy you, what good was I?
So when you walked in the room, my blood ran hot, not from lust, but from embarrassment. I was embarrassed that I had let everything in my world tell me that my own pleasure wasn’t as important as yours.
This piece was inspired by some of my thoughts that have pervaded my mind over the years in my sexual encounters. I feel like from my earliest memories of these types of situations, I remember wanting to feel wanted more than any other feeling. I wanted to be so mesmerizing and irresistible to someone else, more than I, myself, wanted to feel good. And while there is a peculiar kind of power in becoming that seductive to someone, it’s also difficult to achieve, and certainly not lasting. It has taken me, and is still taking me, a long time to consistently put my energy into feeling good instead of worrying about what my partner is thinking of me the entire time. Honestly, it’s kind of embarrassing for me to release it now when I’ve always been such a strong advocate for women owning their own sexuality. Because I still fall into the trap of wanting to please my partner so badly that I will compromise my own pleasure to do so, and that’s not ok. It ends up being hugely frustrating for everyone involved and it’s something I continue to be aware of in my interactions.
I want you to be happy, I said. And I meant it. But then I see a picture of you with her and I feel those words in the back of my throat like bile. I’m stopped dead in my tracks as my truth becomes a lie.
Because she’s beautiful. I know nothing else about her but I know she’s not me. And knowing just that much is enough for me to create her entire being in my mind. I tell myself that she’s my opposite, because that’s what I had to tell myself you wanted when you told me you didn’t want me anymore.
She’s light where I’m dark, soft where I’m hard – it’s easy to hate what’s not me.
But it’s easy to hate what you don’t know. And though I don’t know her, I know you. I know you couldn’t be with my opposite no matter how hard you tried, not when you loved me so fiercely.
My hate pauses for a moment as I realize she’s probably the kind of person I would have been friends with. I shake the thought away.
I must hate her. And I must hate her without hating myself so I decide instead that any similarities to me that she possesses are mere shadows of the traits that I used to love you. I now disdain the very idea of her. I repeat this over and over and convince myself that I was simply too much rather than not right at all.
I must hate her. I have to believe that she is lesser than because if she’s more, then the end of us wasn’t about you, it was about me, and my failures.
She’s yours, and I’m not. She’s your present, and I’m your past. I take a deep breath as I reconcile my lie. Turns out, I did mean it when I said I wanted you to be happy. I just forgot the part where I meant not quite as happy as you were with me.
I know what you’re thinking but surprisingly, this piece isn’t directly about my most recent breakup, merely inspired by it, and by the rupi kaur poem below. This piece is an amalgamation of all the feelings of I’ve ever had when I find out the other person is moving on. No matter how far along in the healing process I am, there’s an ever-present need to convince myself that I’m still better than whoever their new person is so that I can cope and protect my own confidence. I’m not proud of thinking this way because logically I know that the end of a relationship has rarely been only about me, or only about the other person, its end almost always has to do with the way we fit together. Eventually, I do move past this phase but my gut reaction is always negative and I wanted to capture that.
This piece started out a lot differently. I had written a kind of repetitive poem pitting myself against this imaginary girl that represented all of the things I was insecure about in my relationships. But then I called my sister to run it by her and she ripped it to shreds. It stung a bit but she was right. The original piece was petty and superficial and honestly didn’t capture the depth of these feelings the way the piece above does.
Last week I got a ton of good feedback and I’d really appreciate it if you could leave your thoughts on this one somewhere as well! Did you like this week’s or last week’s better? I’m really trying to get better at this type of writing so please let me know what you think!
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the woman who comes after me will be a bootleg version of who i am. she will try and write poems for you to erase the ones i’ve left memorized on your lips but her lines could never punch you in the stomach the way mine did. she will then try to make love to your body. but she will never lick, caress, or such like me. she will be a sad replacement of the woman you let slip. nothing she does will excite you and this will break her. when she is tired of falling apart for a man that doesn’t give back what he takes she will recognize me in your eyelids staring at her with pity and it’ll hit her. how can she love a man who is busy loving someone he can never get his hands on again.
I rolled over because it was too hot. Having your arms around me was comforting and I loved it but I couldn’t take the heat radiating off your body surrounding me in addition to the summer air.
You were already asleep but when I moved you shifted on to your back. I rolled back over onto my other side so I could look at you. You always fell asleep before me. What a gift! To fall asleep as soon as you went horizontal. I was always plagued by at least a few minutes of anxieties before being able to rest, but you were just so peaceful. Your right hand was above your head, and your left rested on your chest and I already missed you.
I know I was the one that rolled over and moved away, and that it had only been a few seconds since we were last touching, but I missed you. I didn’t want to disturb you, but I couldn’t be so far apart from you and still fall asleep, so I unraveled my legs and slowly moved my right foot to find your left one. Gently. Carefully. Your peace was precious to me. Your feet were splayed out, so they were easy to find. I softly tapped the tops of my toes against the bottom of your foot. I was calm again. You were right here again. I settled my head on my pillow and closed my eyes, all my anxieties were quelled with the smallest of touches.
And then, I felt your toes curl over my foot just briefly, drawing me just a little closer, and I knew you had missed me too. Even from beyond consciousness, you wanted me close, and at that moment, I believed I had everything.
Who is this about? You get one guess. But I wanted to write it as a sort of small personal catharsis piece because a couple weeks ago I was trying to go to bed and this scene just all of a sudden came flooding back to me and I had a full-on emotional breakdown over it. I had been relatively ok for months since the breakup but then this small thing hit me and I was just destroyed. Even now I can’t write or edit the above paragraph without my eyes getting glassy.
It simultaneously represents everything I want in a relationship, but also everything I lost. Every relationship has different tiny things like this, that you discover together and a lot of them can’t really be forced or talked about, they just have to be there. My previous relationship had a lot that made for amazing chemistry, and now…pretty devastating loss.
Additionally, I am trying to play around with different styles of writing and writing things other than straightforward, advice type articles. So if the above passage made you feel something, anything, I’d love to know.
Usually, I write a post praising my mom every year to commemorate Mother’s Day, but this year I found myself struggling for inspiration so I decided to go straight to the source of life herself and annoy her into giving me content. Below is an interview with my mom about what being a mom has been like for her, maybe next year I’ll take submissions for questions!
Note: I’ve written this in interview format so ME is, of course, me, and MO stands for Mom. Anything in brackets or parentheses is a note added by me.
ME: Let’s start with the beginning. How did you decide you wanted to become a mom?
MO: I just felt like it was time. We [she and my dad] had talked about it before we got married, so we both knew we wanted kids. The only decision part was to wait to start trying until after we got married.
ME: How did you know when you wanted kids? How did you know you were ready?
MO: I just knew.*
*We laughed here because this was so unhelpful so I pressed her for more
MO: It was just a feeling of readiness. We knew there was no ‘best’ time and we wanted them so we had them. Maybe part of it was your dad’s age, because he knew he wanted kids soon so he wouldn’t be too old of a father. [Note: my dad is 8 years older than my mom]
ME: What was your pregnancy with me like? Leave Kiki out of it haha
MO: Um…no morning sickness. I got horrible acne. For the first part, I felt kinda lousy because you hear about the pregnancy glow, and mine was more like the pregnancy plague. I still worked full time, but I was grumpy and bitchy and even got in trouble at work due to my attitude. I didn’t work out really, aside from walking [Note: She did train for a half marathon after I was born though]. However, once the first trimester passed, I was just waiting for you to get out. I just got bigger and watched my toes disappear from view. Couldn’t even have shoes with laces.
ME: How was childbirth itself?
MO: Take the drugs. That’s all I have to say.
ME: What was the scariest part about being new parents?
MO: Well we were so excited when I was pregnant. It was so cool when we could feel you move. We were excited all the way until you came out and then we brought you home and we looked at you and said: “what do we do with her now?”. Everything was easy when you were still inside, but now it was real and it was scary. Knowing that we were ultimately responsible for shaping this person, this baby, into a real person that’s going to be out there in the world was terrifying.
ME: Ok, well thanks for freaking me out. What was the best part once you brought me home?
MO: Hmmm…making you giggle. Watching you smile. Watching you discover things. Your fat rolls!
ME: Yes I was fat, look how far I’ve come. Are there any choices you made in your parenting when I was little that you were convinced were the right choices at the time?
MO: No. You’re never sure if you’ve made the right choice until much later. You can never truly know if what you did was right until your child is presented with a situation that requires that lesson later and they choose the best option or not.
ME: Well that is not comforting at all. Let’s fast forward a little bit, how did you approach puberty for me?
MO: I think we bought you a book right?
ME: Several actually.
MO: Yeah that’s right. We wanted to make sure you had literature about everything going on and we wanted to make sure you knew you could ask us any question you wanted and that we would be honest with you. And above all else, we wanted to make sure you were getting information from us rather than friends or others.
ME: How did you make sure I knew I could come to you?
MO: Just by repeating it, making sure you were aware at every step. But we also never pressed you to tell us anything. And the thing is, this worked for you because you had no problem asking us point blank questions no matter how uncomfortable, but for your sister it was different.
ME: How did you approach the situation when I wanted to start dating and hanging out with boys?
MO: Well we knew it was coming. And once you were old enough to drive we knew we had less control over the situations so we wanted to make sure there were rules in place. There had to be a structure surrounding it, no point in having you out till all hours for no good reason, leaving more room for trouble. I was thankful that you would talk to me about it though, and that you would listen to me when I would give advice. I was also thankful that you were taking responsibility for making sure that you were safe, and that you felt important and comfortable in your relationships.
ME: So do you think you were successful in raising me? Why?
MO: Well yeah…I mean…you lived (laughs), but you did everything right. You heeded advice, you made good decisions, you made bad decisions but learned from your mistakes. You help others when they ask for it. You’re adventurous.
ME: How did you decide to have another kid?
MO: We always knew we wanted more than one. We originally thought we were going to have four but once we found out how hard one kid was, we reevaluated pretty quick (laughs). But we also always thought it was a good idea for a kid to have at least one sibling so we made sure we did that.
ME: Ok what’s the best thing about being a mom?
MO: Loving and being loved unconditionally. I liked the process of teaching another human how to be a human. For as many tears that were cried, there were so many more smiles.
ME: Awwwwww, ok what’s the worst thing about being a mom?
MO: It’s just so much pressure. And not even from the kid, but from other adults that judge you and tell you you’re doing it wrong or make you second guess yourself. And puke. Puke is also terrible.
ME: What did you learn from your mom that was invaluable in your mothering technique?
MO: Patience, so much patience.
ME: There are so many questions I could ask. One that’s super important to me though is how was it traveling with two kids? Especially two small kids?
MO: It was scary in the sense that you’re going into an environment where there are so many other people and new things and you don’t know how your kid is going to react. You don’t want to be that parent with that kid. You want to be prepared for everything so you end up being a pack mule and it’s freaking exhausting to actually get to the destination, much less enjoy yourself.
ME: Ok, let’s wrap it up since you want to go to sleep so bad! How do you think your role has changed now that I’m an adult?
MO: Well you’re pretty much self-sufficient so I’m just here for the occasional question now. I don’t need to really teach you anything anymore, I just have to trust that I have imparted as much knowledge as I could before now. Obviously, we’re still here as a safety net, but you’re doing everything you need to be doing. You respect what we taught you and you use it in your life now. Now I’m just here for questions like “how long does previously frozen chicken last in the fridge?” haha
ME: What about from when I was in college as compared to now that I’m completely independent?
MO: Well we’re not your bank anymore…that really means you’re fully independent now. There’s nothing we could hold over you if necessary. It’s like we’re more equal than before. We have adult conversations but ultimately when you make your decision it’s your decision because I can’t make you do anything now. So I feel I’m more to bounce ideas off of and provide comfort than to actually give direction.
ME: It’s interesting you view us as more equal. Do you think my role within the family changed?
MO: Of course. All the things I used to do for you, you now do yourself. Making appointments, cooking, laundry. And as much as I’m glad that it’s less work for me, it was also hard letting go of those things because it means I’m not needed as much and it’s all part of you breaking away from us to become your own person.
And that’s it! Anything you wish I would’ve asked? Maybe I’ll write a little appendix if I get enough extra questions!