raising marlo


i wouldn't label myself as one specific type of parent. actually, i take that back. i am one type of parent: i'm the type of parent ruled by common sense. i also try to parent with intention. i not only want to raise marlo to be a strong female who can hold her own among anyone, i also want to raise a decent human being who knows right from wrong. i want marlo to be someone who doesn't back down or cower because she's been given the impression that her hypothetical place lies somewhere specific within the self-centered, gender-centric proverbial order that our society runs under. that's, quite frankly, not our style.

with that in mind, here are the things i hope to instill in you, modine.

1. don't preface your opinions or feelings with an apology. don't apologize for how you feel about anything; you're entitled to an opinion just as everyone else is. instead, simply be mindful of how you share your feelings before you share them so that whatever you say is said with intention, regard, and respect towards whomever may be listening.

2. don't allow yourself to ever be used as the measure of an insult. it infuriates me to no end when i hear someone say, "you throw like a girl..." or "that's so gay..." or "how retarded..." the only thing people accomplish by using phrases like these is projecting that they are an unintelligent asshole. if you hear anyone butchering the beauty of the english language by making such ignorant, asinine, and patronizing insults- i give you permission to verbally call them the fuck out and make them feel as moronic as they are behaving. we may be a lot of things, marlo, but bullies, we are not.

3. accept compliments graciously but never become dependent on them. when you begin to require compliments in order to feel good about yourself, you begin waddling into dangerous waters. that mode of thinking can quickly escalate into trusting others' opinions or approval over your own which can- and will- lead to a mess of insecurities and people whose intentions may be less than honorable.

4. let yourself fall apart when you need to. by no means do you owe anyone an explanation about why you're struggling; you do, however, owe it to yourself to accept and embrace that life can be cruel and trying for no other reason than it can. you owe it to yourself to endure and explore the trials and tribulations of life as they arrive at your door. it's essential that you allow yourself to cry and process pain without worrying of appearing weak because you are anything but, my badass girl. letting your body physically react to stress the way that it needs to is not only healthy and therapeutic, it's a sign of emotional intelligence. it is a sign of emotional strength. more importantly, letting go of whatever it is that is hurting you means that you're one step closer to putting those pieces back together.

5. stand your ground when you believe in something. it may not be the trendiest thing to believe in and you will more than likely feel alone in your stance, but the fact that you believe in something is what makes you the epitome of badass. every person who has stood for anything worthy has at one point or another stood alone. the truth is that when you passionately and sincerely believe in something, it won't matter to you who stands beside you. my hope is that you never feel the need to agree with anything i believe simply because i believe it. i'm counting on you having the balls to tell me why you think i'm wrong. i also live under the assumption that when you disagree with someone or when you passionately believe in something, you will have the grace and humility to share it with others in a respectful manner that resonates with them rather than belittles them. it's important for you understand that you can still love and respect someone even if you don't agree with them on any number of things.

6. do not kiss ass for the sake of kissing ass. marlo, i'm all for paying your dues. i'm all for hard word and hustle. but don't be the person who blows smoke up people's asses because you think that it'll get you further or it'll make you more friends. ass kissing is an embarrassingly obvious sign of someone who doesn't have any other ground to stand on. it kills all credibility. and don't let other people kiss your ass either. make people work for your trust and friendship just as you should work to earn theirs. walking the talk is also knows as leading by example. you'll get what you give, that i can promise you.

7. don't be afraid to ask for help. marlo, you're going to be a force to be reckoned with and capable of anything you could dream of. attached to that level of ability can be a sense of pride. this pride can make it difficult to admit that you're unable do something on your own. throughout your life, you will cultivate relationships with people, some fleeting and situational and others that are emotional and cementing. as long as any of those relationships are sincere, open and honest, free of jealousy, and full of humility, you're going to have a long list of people who will gladly help you when you truly need it. and if those people are the kind of people that are anything like the person i hope to raise you to be, they'll respect you even more because you asked for their help, not in spite of it.

8. approach everyone you meet with compassion and empathy. people become quite skilled at hiding their troubles as a means of survival because, more than likely, they've had one too many people use a  situation against them and taken advantage of their temporary weakness. be genuine. ask people how their day is going and actually give a damn about their answer. if this world needs anything, it's a great deal more compassion and empathy. be gentle and kind to people simply because you have no reason not to be.

9. be all in or get out. don't be one of those people who tread water until someone either throws them a barbell or dives in to save them. grab life by the balls. make your own decisions. don't waddle in some grey stagnant area of life. there will be many occurrences when you find yourself in limbo and you're forced to wait for one reason or another in order to make your next move. this is a normal part of life. just don't be the person who sits and waits for life to come to them or for other people to make decisions for them; rather, go chase after life and make it what you want. embrace the chaos that can come along with it.

10. set boundaries. one of the few parenting philosophies that i regard strictly is setting boundaries for you while allowing you to do basically whatever you want within those boundaries. the thought behind it is two-fold: for starters, i hope that it reinforces consistency and predictability for you. it is my personal belief that consistency and predictability equal dependability for children. secondly, it is my hope that by growing up with consistent boundaries, you will find setting boundaries for yourself second-nature and necessary to feel comfortable. in addition to boundaries, hopefully you'll feel the need to set standards within and even beyond those boundaries- for yourself and for others. if you grow up confident that standards can be met, you'll settle for nothing less from yourself and from other people.

more than anything, marlo, it's my hope that you're always self-possessed and assured, that you're the kind of someone who believes, without a shadow of a doubt, that she's not only worth knowing, but also worthy of respect, fairness, and love. strive to put those things out into the world every single day, marlo, and you will be unstoppable.


VelmaRose said...

These "words to live by" could not have been listed with any less grace, my dear. I hope my little Alistair will learn these same morals, as I too am continuing to learn and build on these life lessons. One that I have learned to always remind myself of is that "there is no such thing as mistakes; only lessons".

And, as always, your writing always brightens my day and enlightens my hungry mind. Thank you once again for making a particularly rough day for me so much easier to bear.

Selwa said...

#5. Yes. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Social media is such an amazing phenomenon. I bought your clothes, which led me to look you up on Instagram. I love following moms that obviously love their kids. Which seems odd, because don't we all? But...no, it's not about spending a kazillion dollars on your kids to parade them around (barf). It's about loving them, and...well, yes, wanting them to look good too (can't get away from that!) I only wish I could write as well as you/speak such words to my daughter. That said...you do it for those of us that can't. Wish you had a Pin button (which you may loathe) This post is beautifully written, heartfelt, and she is lucky to have you as a Mama. Not because you both are beautifully dressed, but because you are raising her to be a good human being. Loved the title on one of your other posts. "Lessons in not raising an asshole" LOVE THAT!!! Should be a book title... Anyways, just know that your words are reaching a lot of people, but more importantly going to reach Marlo.


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