There are five things I want to teach my daughter. I have learned these lessons through many hardships, slip-ups, and deep periods of introspection where I isolated myself from everyone who tried to get close to me. My hope for her is that she, too, can feel like a waste of flesh, life, and oxygen before she even thinks about viewing herself as a human being deserving of love. I’m the one who gets to be her mommy, after all. It’s my job to take her little baby face, point it toward the future, and whisper, “Look at all that horrible shit that’s coming your way.” Here are the lessons she needs to learn so that she knows what pain is before it hits her, smack in the face when she least expects it:
In every tough situation, try apologizing for who you are first.
One day, someone will cut my daughter off in traffic. A barista will make her frappuccino wrong. Some guy might tell her he loves her and then decide to move to Portugal. How is she going to respond? As her momma, I hope my dear daughter reflexively blames herself.
Most people’s first response in these situations is to get angry at the person, but a real adult will turn that anger inward. People are more likely to respond positively if you apologize for having the audacity to express your needs. Just make sure to apologize quickly so as not to waste too much of the other person’s time.
I can’t wait to watch my daughter decide her needs are unimportant for the first time.
If someone hurts you, take it personally.
Actually, take everything personally. It’s a known fact that if someone sets out to make you feel bad, it’s because you have an inflated sense of ego and are under the delusion that you deserve respect. People who hurt you and send you into a downward spiral of self-doubt and depression are just angels in disguise, sent by Jesus to remind you to keep your feet on the ground. That way, he won’t have to carry you. I want my daughter to be able to carry her own emotional weight.
Let the world make you bitter as soon as possible.
The world can be a difficult place to live in. Pain is inevitable. Rejection should be expected. Waxing is practically mandatory. This can really take a toll on a person. Don’t let the harshness of the world build you up; this is a common trap to fall into. Instead of getting better, get bitter. Thinking you deserve more from life will just make things worse when you get laid off for being pregnant.
People who complain are never winners. The real winners are people who softly suggest alternatives, but just as happily accept the situation as it is. While maybe it isn’t fair that things are the way they are, remember: It’s probably your fault. You still talk in that voice. You still made Paul cheat on you with another woman because of your insufferably large hips. You still own a Beanie Baby. You are the problem. I hope my daughter’s first words are, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Live every day like it’s your last – depressed and terrified of what’s to come.
It’s not just a platitude! Living every day like it’s your last will make you in touch with the cold, hard ambivalence of the universe. It’s a lesson I hope my daughter learns by the time she has object permanence. That way, she’ll know that every good thing can be taken away forever.
My daughter may only be a baby, but one day, she’ll be a disappointment to herself and others. I can’t wait to watch her learn this fact and all the other painful realities this world has in store for her.