If I could go back in time and tell that naive girl a few things, here is what I might say (in no particular order):
- Always believe in yourself.
- Never judge others. You never know what someone else is going through and you will be a much nicer person if you are tolerant and non-judgemental.
- Be kind to your mom. She is doing most of this alone. Cut her a break. She loves you more than you will ever know.
- Be nice to your brothers. They are your family and know you in a way that no one else ever will.
- Your dad is just a man. Do not give him too much power.
- Value your friends. Make the time for them. Make them make the time for you. There is nothing as terrific as a true friend who really gets you.
- Don't hold grudges. They will make you nasty and mean.
- Learn to forgive yourself for mistakes you make. Mistakes teach us what not to do again. This applies to dating, fashion, and so much more.
- You are good enough. You are smart enough. You are pretty enough.
- Treat your body well. You need it to carry you through.
- You are not fat.
- Do not get bangs. They just don't work on you.
- All attention is not always good attention.
- You will fall in love.
- You will marry the most amazing man and he will be worth the wait.
- You will grieve like you never thought possible.
- You will experience happiness like you never thought possible.
- You will make an amazing mother someday.
One of the things I want to do most right now is create as safe space in which to raise my daughter. I want her to see the above list now and not at forty-two so she can save herself some time. While some of the items I actually did, I do not think I saw the importance of them until I was older.
I want to explain to her that hate crimes are committed by ignorant people and they are not personal, even when they feel that they are. This is a tumultuous time in our history and I am scared. I am worried that my daughter might be the subject of ridicule when people find out that she does not celebrate Christmas. I panic when I think about her explaining that she is adopted and is of mixed race. I do not know where we are headed as a country and I am uncomfortable.
In the past, when I am uncomfortable about something, that usually makes me stand up and face it. I think the same applies here. Let's together stand up for equality, fairness and what is morally right. Maybe, we can impact some positive change. Worst case, I can at least set a good example for my family.
I am not today who I was thirty years ago. I am better. Aren't we all?