I know that when my children are older, speaking to them about the serious stuff will be tough. And there are a few things I want them to know that they might not want to hear. They’ll think I’m the worst mum in the world by then after all. So I’m writing it down now and I hope that one day they will read it. And grow up knowing that they are, and will always be, enough.
You are equal
We are all equal. Nobody is better or worse than you. Children at school may be more talented at a particular subject. You may not be the fastest runner or the most fluent reader. There will be children who struggle more than you do at writing, throwing or drawing. But they may be full of empathy and compassion. They may have a flair for sewing or be able to swim like a fish. We all have our own talents and being better at one thing means nothing.
When you grow up and go to work, your boss isn’t better than you. They may be more experienced, they may have worked harder or they may be older. And you should respect them for that and take their instructions and advice where appropriate. But they are not better than you. And neither am I. Your opinions, your decisions and your talents are important. Don’t let anybody make you feel like they’re not.
Disagreement is good
I’m not telling you to fight, argue or bicker. I’m not telling you to be deliberately awkward. But if you disagree with someone, tell them. If something happens that you know is wrong, say something. If you or someone else is being bullied, stand up and be counted.
Have the confidence to know that you can disagree. With children at school, with your teachers. With your boss and with me. The more you disagree, the easier it will become to do it politely. You will learn to put across your point of view in a way that makes people stop and listen. That is important.
This is one step further than disagreeing. Sometimes, you will have to say no. And mean it.
One day someone will do something to you that you don’t like. Or you will see it happening to somebody else. Don’t acquiesce, don’t walk on by. Don’t let it happen. Say no, and mean it. Use stronger language if you need to. Fight physically, shout and scream. Whatever you do, make it count.
Try. Give things your all. Learn to play an instrument. Practice your reading, take up a sport. But when it starts to become a chore it’s fine to walk away. Sometimes this is harder than keeping on. You’ll feel guilty, you will fear the change. But if it doesn’t make you happy, it is time to move on.
The same goes for relationships. Love fully, trust completely and devote yourself to the person you choose. But when they stop making you happy, walk away. Because you are enough on your own. Another person doesn’t define you or make you happy. You are enough. Only you can choose to be happy and sometimes that means walking away.
We’ve got one shot at this. You are enough, but life is not. There are no reruns, no second chances. Do what makes you happy. Go on the holiday, eat the cake. Say yes to the night out. Drink the gin. Dance. Light the candles. Buy the flowers. Look after yourself both physically and mentally. Because nobody else will. Don’t wait for somebody else to make you happy because they won’t. They can’t. That is down to you.
Know that you are beautiful inside and out. If that means wearing makeup, wear the makeup. If that means buying expensive clothes, buy them. Because you are important.
I will tell you that you that you’re beautiful. Your dad will tell you and so will your greatest friends and teachers. And if the person you love doesn’t tell you how beautiful you are then they are not the one.
But here’s the thing – that won’t be enough. You need to do whatever it takes to know that every part of you is beautiful. Then one day, you will realise that you didn’t need the designer clothes, the makeup or the crippling shoes. Because you were beautiful all along.
Your opinion is the one that matters
This is your life. I do my best for you, every day. I try to raise you in the best way I can. Sometimes I make decisions for you, sometimes I force you to do things you don’t want to do. Because I am your mum. But that doesn’t mean I’m right.
This is your life. I will try to mould you and shape you to be the best you can be. But when all is said and done, it is down to you. The same goes for your teachers, your friends and your boss. Listen. Take in what they say, weigh up all the facts. And then have your own opinion. And stick to it. Because you matter. You are enough.
I am wrong
I know, I’ve just lectured you for longer than you can concentrate. I’ve covered all sorts of issues and told you what to do in a plethora of situations. As I do every day, and probably always will. But that’s because I’m your mum, not because I’m right.
Because you and I are equal. Your opinion is the one that counts. Be strong enough to make your own decisions, regardless of what I think. Because you are beautiful. You are strong. You are enough.