When I grow up 

Dear Delilah,  

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Had you asked me when I was 7, I would’ve said a zookeeper. 

At 12, an ASPCA case worker 

At 15, a veterinarian 

At 17, a vet technician

At 18, an elementary school teacher

At 19, I played around with the idea of working in speech pathology & audiology.  Maybe helping children with special needs to communicate. Or maybe Psychology; something about it gave me purpose.  

My plans were to graduate with an Associates of the Arts degree in theatre then transfer the credits over to the neighboring university where they would take the credits to continue a Bachelors in Education or Speech Pathology. 

Then I ran into your dad & something inside of me changed.  

I was no longer preoccupied by dreams of my own but dreams of a family. I dreamt of being a wife.  I dreamt of being a mother. 

Staying in Southeast Texas for the sole purpose of continuing school seemed so silly compared to my dreams of being a homemaker,  a nurturer, a mother, & a wife. Your father & I got married, I graduated,  & it was off to New York for me. 

New York was a beautiful experience. I made friends & found a job that I loved. I worked with one of my best friends running the toddler classroom at a child development center & I couldn’t have been happier. It wasn’t long before I bonded with the children & several of the parents. I loved the kids like my own & leaving them was harder than I ever could’ve imagined but at 7 months pregnant it was time to move back to good ole Texas. 

Now we’ve been stationed here about 6 months & I’ve had a job for 2 but it just hasn’t been the same. An Associates degree in Theatre is hardly a career & child care centers don’t pay much. Finding a minimum skill job that pays enough to make daycare worth it is nearly impossible. Staying home doesn’t help financially at all. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how insignificant money is. Our lights stay on & we have food on the table.  Our gas tanks are full & we have hot water to bathe. Isn’t everything else just an added luxury? New books, Starbucks, eating out. Those things aren’t needed. I’m stressing over insignificant things. A job is simply that. A job. 

So ask me at 22 what I want to be when I grow up. 

I want to be happy.  I want to be available for my husband & child. I want to be loved. I want to take lots of pictures. I want to cherish the little things that make life so beautiful. I want to make memories that will last a lifetime. I want to hold my family close. I want to be kind to others. I want to take chances. I want to go on adventures. I want to grow & watch you grow. I want to run my fingers through your father’s grey hair when we’re old & look into those beautiful eyes like I’m 19 again. We were young & no, I didn’t have a career, a savings, or even a plan but he waltzed into my heart & I had never been so sure of anything in my entire life.  

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Touch

Dear Delilah, 

Never forget that your body is yours. There will come a day when people try to convince you otherwise. 

Your body will fail you in the moment. Keep your mind & heart strong. The internal battle is the hardest to fight. 

Butterflies do not equal love. 

Smooth talking does not equal respect. 

Guys seem to know exactly what to say to make you feel like you owe them something.  

Babygirl, you are special. Don’t be the next number to a guy who doesn’t see that.  

I pray that your father & I can be a pure honest example of love & adoration.  

We both grew up in broken homes & searched for love & acceptance in the arms of strangers.  

They all make you feel special. For a moment. 

Don’t settle for surface compliments.  Yes,  “you’re beautiful”.  Boys will get “lost in your eyes” & “love your smile”. “Your dress is pretty” and “your hair is gorgeous”.  It’s garbage. 

Wait for the man that loves that you laugh when you’re nervous, that you geek out over astronomy,  or fight for what you believe in. 

You’re brilliant. Never compromise your intelligence for anyone. 

It’s human nature to want to be wanted. You have to learn to want & love yourself first. 

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.”  -Rupi Kaur

I wish so badly that someone would’ve had this talk with me. It’s not enough to say “wait until marriage”. 

When you’re uncomfortable, say no.  When you’re drinking, say no. When you don’t even know his middle name,  say no.  

So often I wished I had just stood up for myself. Why was it so hard to say what I was really thinking?  Why did I feel like anyone deserved such a sacred part of me?  

I want so badly to shelter you from the pain. The false compliments, the temporary butterflies. The mornings after, tear streaked pillows. Sweetheart, it’s so not worth it.  

I know I’ll annoy you about who you’re with, where you’re going, when you’ll be home..  But I’ll be up late waiting to make sure you come home safe. I’ll bug you with questions about how things went & you’ll roll your eyes because I’m over protective.  

I was given the blessing of being your parent in this life & helping guide you through life’s tough battles. I promise I will always be waiting with a listening ear, & a full heart. 

 & your dad will be waiting with his shotgun.  

Befriending my Body. 

Dear Delilah, 

You’re beautiful, never doubt that. 

While carrying a child for 9 months it is easy to accept the weight you’ve gained. Nobody expects you to have the “bikini body”, go to the gym, or fit in the cutest clothes. Once you have the baby it suddenly seems like your excuse is gone. I remember going in public after having you, I always wanted to be holding you so people would think “oh she just had a baby” instead of “oh, she’s fat”. It sounds silly I know, but it’s the truth. Every time I looked in the mirror all I saw was a flabby scarred stomach. I started dropping weight, weighing myself several times a day, anxious to see that prepregnancy weight of 130lbs. I never saw it. I’m stuck at 140lbs & I don’t see myself hitting 130 anytime soon. Before pregnancy my stomach was flat, at least flat enough to suck in during pictures. I had nice symmetrical breasts, about a D cup & just enough hips. I felt pretty.

I wasn’t tiny but society said I was pretty enough. 

Now I’m nearly 3 months postpartum. I wear a DDD & my breasts are rarely ever the same size (I breastfeed). My hips have expanded & found their new comfortable size, which is much larger than before. When trying on my prepregnancy clothes, most of my old shorts wouldn’t fit over my thighs. It was discouraging. Recently I looked in the mirror & told myself “you can’t keep looking for your physical beauty in how small you are.”

Beauty is not rated on a scale of how thin you are. 

 I gave birth to a 7lbs 12oz baby, of course my hips widened. My breasts are producing enough milk to allow a human being to survive on nothing else, of course my breasts grew larger. My stomach stretched to be a home for a 21.5in baby, of course I’m scarred. But everyday I get to look into your eyes & see your sweet smile & you look at me like I’m the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. 

I’m healthy & you’re healthy. I endured 29 hours of labor & lived to tell the tale. My body created you, housed you, & birthed you. What is ugly about that? I’m learning to love my plus size body, so who cares what anyone else thinks.

Coparenting isn’t part time parenting.

Dear Delilah, 

I promise that you will always be at the top of my priority list. I promise to strive to give you the time & attention that God offers us as our Heavenly father. 

There’s a problem I see more & more everyday & I’d like to address it for those who are confused. 

BEING A SINGLE PARENT DOESN’T GIVE YOU A FREE PASS TO BE LESS OF A PARENT.

Just because you are separated doesn’t mean you’re a part time parent. It doesn’t mean you are half responsible for your child.  

I have literally heard parents say things like “my babies dad/mom never gets them so I never get a break”. What even? 

Yes, ideally we could all make it work with our children’s other parent but that’s just not realistic. 

Why does it seem like the mentality of parents (sadly often the younger ones) is “I wonder is anyone wants to watch my kid this weekend so I can be free”. Free? For what? Free to go to the lake, the casino, hangout with my new girlfriend, or get drunk with my friends. 

This is so depressing to me. 

You are a parent now. I am SO sorry if that inconveniences you. You literally have a child that wants nothing more in the world than your time & attention. 

I’m not referring to an occasional spa day or date night. I’m not referring to your child wanting to stay the night at grandma’s every few weeks. There are parents who literally post about going clubbing or partying every other weekend because thank goodness the kids are going to their dad’s house so I can finally be irresponsible. 

Another thing I feel like people do not understand: coparenting does not mean with your parents. Why are grandparents who’s children are grown expected to raise your kid half the time? 

Find new hobbies that your children can take part in. Go to the park, amusement parks, fishing, skating, go on picnics, swimming, an arcade, etc. Your child is not a burden. Stop looking forward to pushing them onto other people so you can think about yourself. 

Your kids are gonna grow up & realize that under the sugar coating of “going to grandma’s” or “dad’s gonna watch you”, you’re just trying to get rid of them. 

Does mother know best? 

Dear Delilah, 

I wish I had all the answers. I’m here to tell you a secret; moms don’t really know everything. Don’t worry, I always thought my mom knew it all too. I wish that I always knew how to fix the problem. I wish I knew how to console you when you cry. Everyone else can say “maybe she’s hungry” or “maybe she just needs her mom” but not me. I’m supposed to know what’s wrong because I’m your mother. I’ve been asked “What’s wrong with her?” or “Why is she crying?” Baby girl, I wish I knew.. Am I holding you wrong? Did I eat something that upset you? If you’re crying then maybe I’m not feeding you enough but if you’re spitting up a lot then maybe I’m feeding you too much. Once I’ve done all I can do, I feel helpless. What’s worse is that I know it will never change. There will always be things in your life that I can’t fix. There will always be questions I can’t answer & problems I don’t have the solution to. Just know that as you’re hurting, I am too. After you finally fall asleep after crying, I sit awake & cry too. I don’t know all the answers. I won’t always be able to help you, but I promise that I will always hold you through the pain. I love you through the smiles & I love you through the tears. If nothing else, I hope you remember that I tried & I will never stop trying to be the best, for you. 

This world will break you.

Dear Delilah, 

As I watch you sleep, I can’t help but think about the terrible world around us. Right now you’re so peaceful & safe but I know in time the world will steal your innocence.

Despite my efforts, one day someone will come along & make you feel things you’ve never felt before. You’ll think that they’re the one & then they’ll break your heart. It’s going to hurt, hurt like nothing you’ve experienced before. For a while you won’t want to get out of bed. You’ll live on Netflix & ice cream. As soon as you think your heart is healing you’ll cry yourself to sleep looking at old pictures & reliving the memories that you’ll never get back. I wish I could prepare you for that. Know that it will get better. I know it feels like the end of the world but even on the darkest nights the sun will rise. Remember during this time to love yourself. Find hobbies & spend time with friends, isolation is no good for the broken hearted. 

There will be times in your life that you feel so alone. Times when you feel like no one understands you & you don’t know where to run. I hope you know that you’re never too old to crawl in bed with me when you need to be close to someone.

In your life there will be people who discourage you. Teachers who don’t understand the way you learn, coaches who don’t see your talent, management who doesn’t want you to move forward in your chosen career. Ignore them. You can do anything you set your mind to.

This world will teach you what it means to lose someone you love. It’ll start with a pet & you won’t really understand why your dog is gone. Then one day it’ll be someone you know, someone you see everyday at school. Suddenly you realize that we’re not invincible, that realization is going to consume you, let it. Then live everyday like it’s your last & let everyone you love know how special they are to you.

One day you’ll make a mistake, not coloring out of the lines or spilling your juice but a mistake that makes it hard to look at yourself in the mirror. In the moment you’d do anything to take it back but know that holding onto the past keeps you from moving forward. Your mistakes do not define you, they aren’t who you are. Remember that.

This world will make you question your worth. When the boy you like doesn’t look your way, remember that you’re still beautiful. When you don’t make the soccer team or cheer squad, know that God has given you a special set of skills for a reason & you will discover them. Don’t base your worth on Twitter followers or how many likes your selfie got on Instagram. Love yourself. “In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” This world will tell you that you’re too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too freckly, too pale, too smart, too dumb, etc. Please don’t listen. Growing up I was always “short stuff”. People thought it was funny to run into me & act like it was funny because they “couldn’t see me”. When I hit puberty my breasts started growing & I remember going shopping with my mom for a bra. A lady told me that they don’t make bras my size because it was abnormal for someone to wear a D cup when they were so small around. I felt like a freak. (Turns out the lady was just ignorant on the subject.) You are you for a reason, don’t let others diminish that.

Lastly, one day you will realize that your dad & I are not superheroes. We don’t know the answers to all of your questions. We have made mistakes & unfortunately will keep making them. We’ve been through our fair share of broken hearts, lost friends, self-doubt, & discouragement. There will come a day when we disappoint you. When you realize that we probably shouldn’t be put on that pedestal where you’ve had us placed your whole life. As much as this day will break my heart, it will allow us to bond in a new way. You will view us in a new light as you see that we are human too & we’ve been where you are. We will always be here to listen and give you advice. We are nowhere near perfect but remember that we’re doing the best that we can. 

Learning to girl mom

Dear Delilah,

I always thought you would be a boy. I mean, my first child anyways. I’ve always felt like a “boy mom” & figured my adventures would come with mud, broken bones, & bugs. Don’t take this wrong, I am in no way disappointed. I’m just slightly changing my approach to parenting. I now have to raise you to be a strong, Godly woman in a man’s world. I have to raise you to be a lady but teach you that being a lady doesn’t mean your voice doesn’t matter. 

But on another note, I’m learning all about dresses & bows & headbands. I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn a bow since I was 3. I was raised on dirty fingernails & drinking from the water hose. I swam in the ditches when it rained & rolled my eyes when your Nana wanted me to wear anything but boys athletic shorts. I still wear shorts under every dress I own because I haven’t quite perfected the “sitting like a lady” part. Oops. 

Here are some of my high school friends & I after having a shaving cream fight & jumping in a muddy lake. 

Anyways, I’ve gotten loads of help from friends & family on making sure you’ll be the best dressed baby girl around. You definitely own more dresses, bows, headbands, & shoes than I have in my entire life. I’ve even made some myself! I bought a hot glue gun & I’m pretty sure that’s one of the first steps to being a girl mom. 

I’ve done my makeup the same since I learned how to do it in 8th grade. You wouldn’t believe the amount of things people alter their appearance with these days; drawn on eyebrows, over lined lips, fake freckles, fake eyelashes, etc. Super strange to me but if contouring, highlighting, & winged eyeliner are your passion then I’ll support that 100%. You & your Aunt Kylee can have a field day. 

Also, I’m gonna apologize in advance for your not so cute hair do’s.. I didn’t learn to straighten my hair until I was a teenager & I learned to curl it when I was in college. I can do the basic braid once your hair is long enough but I can’t french braid yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll do the whole youtube tutorial thing & teach myself. 

Dude, I don’t like pink. You don’t have to just because you’re a girl, I mean there are so many other colors. You have plenty of pink stuff so I’m not robbing you of your own choices but please don’t ask me to paint your room pink, I’m not sure I’m strong enough to handle that. 

Just know that whatever you love, I’ll learn to love. I thought I was made to be a boy mom but God has different plans & I’m so excited to see where this takes us.