Today my eldest daughter turns 14
She has a fight and a zeal and a drive that terrifies me and makes me envious of her in equal parts.
She is fierce and strongminded and passionate as well as kind and compassionate- all I ever wanted my daughters to be .
I’m proud and in awe of her absolutely , I just wish I could get her to listen to me on just one tiny piece of advice.
Dear S ,
I know that I give you ‘mums little life tips’ very often. Possibly too often , but the thing about being an old lady such as me is that you’ve made lots of mistakes and learnt lots of ways in which you could have improved a situation or avoided a mess and I just want to help you maybe navigate some of those pitfalls without having to actually go through them.
Mum messed up so you don’t have to!
So if you listen to nothing else , just maybe listen to this one :
(Disclaimer – the sex , drugs , boys and rock and roll stuff ALL still counts , you know the basics of mum lecturing. This is an added extra NOT a replacement for the big ones)
This is my one pearl of wisdom for you though :
Choose your battles.
That’s it . Simple eh?
I admire your spirit S I do. I wish I could be like you in so many ways . There is such a raw determination in you and I know that eventually it’ll serve you well. It will aid the success I am certain awaits you.
There are times though that holding your tongue , taking a breath and thinking is the wiser choice than opening your mouth. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking I’m giving out mixed signals here. Don’t I always tell you never to let injustice pass you by? Never be a quiet bystander when you see something happening you know is inherently wrong .
I mean that too , honestly, don’t be the person who joins in with bullying. Don’t be the one who doesn’t challenge friends who use racist or sexist or homophobic language. Be the woman who builds other women up , not someone who gains enjoyment from pulling your fellow women down. Be a good human. Those there are the basics.
The bits that can be let go though , your brothers not bringing their pots out of their rooms or leaving the toilet seat up? You can leave those rows for me to have. Honestly I’m an old hand at this , don’t waste your precious energies on them. When you’re told off by your teacher but it wasn’t you talking. Don’t get into dialogue about it in front of the whole class , that won’t end well for you ! Hold your tongue and maybe talk to that teacher calmly afterwards. Don’t waste your clever comments under your breath on me when we’re disagreeing. All that gets you is your phone taken off you , you know this !
As a woman you will have big battles to fight.
You’ll likely have to fight to be heard.
Fight for your right to take up space.
Fight to be taken seriously as an intelligent woman.
Fight for your fellow women who don’t have their own voice.
These things are worth your fury and your rage and your fight. Unleashed and uninhibited. The full force of you S at an injustice , it doesn’t stand a chance.
Save yourself for the big things. Let me say here though I am in no way belittling your sense of what is big and what is insignificant. I can’t do that. Should I ever not take your concerns as seriously as you want , please do pull me up on it.Calmly . I hope I am never dismissive of your opinions but I know sometimes as a single mum of 4 children sometimes I’m not listening as intently as I should or I miss things and that must be frustrating. You know how we have our time just you and I every night though ? When small girl is in bed and the boys are playing the Stupid Football Game in their rooms. That’s my listening time , if I’ve annoyed or frustrated you by being distracted come to me then , let me know. Talk things through.
I have no doubt S that you have it in you to change the world. I’ve known it since you were a matter of months old. Changing the world takes energy though , lets ensure that we have enough in the bank . The boys smelly socks or an irritating person at school aren’t worth that precious spirit of yours.
Know this though, when you do have a battle to fight or an injustice to highlight. When you feel your voice needs to be heard and you need to stand up and be counted. When you’ve considered that actually this is a battle you’ve chosen needs fighting , I’ll be right there beside you, female solidarity at it’s finest. If that ends up being about the boys bathroom habits or you approaching school about the lack of girls sport or if it’s you’re standing up for someone not being treated how they should or you needing to take on Theresa May ? Well if you’ve thought about it and find it worthy of your energy then S I am with you , without question.
Here’s my Facebook page
<a href=”http://www.aftertheplayground.com” target=”_blank”><img src=”https://i1.wp.com/i36.photobucket.com/albums/e14/Motherofteenagers/teen%20logo%20launch_zpsf7wwiqa5.jpg?w=750″ alt=”After the Playground” data-recalc-dims=”1″ /></a><br />