And yet, here I am.
I'm here because of a tweet that was written because of a blog post that was written because a well-meaning mother decided to tell teenaged girls to stop acting like teenaged girls because their sexy selfies on instagram are sending the wrong message to all the good teenaged boys in the world.
Like others who have responded, I immediately thought of myself when I was younger and my daughter and the reality of growing up on social media and iPhones. I admit to shaking my head and wondering what the hell they are thinking when seeing selfie-updates posted online with pouty lips and sexy poses. Sometime I remember the only difference between then and now is that then didn't include instagram. So I refocus on doing (what I believe is) right by my daughter.
It's my job to raise her, not society's job to judge her. It's my job to teach her right from wrong and left from right and that she is so much more than a pretty face. I want her to be proud of herself, feel no shame in talking about things like anxiety and mama's ADHD and the therapist that we share. And I sure as hell am working my ass off to try (oh please, God) to provide her with a foundation strong enough to weather the demons that still chase after me like body image and my eating disordered past. As her mother, it's my responsibility to give her the tools, the knowledge that society will always have an opinion, and (hopefully) the sense of self to not give a damn. From there, it's her job to make mistakes, learn from them, and make some more until she's found her path.
It's my job to raise my daughter. It's not my job to judge yours.
I have no doubt my daughter will grow into an incredible older version of the wonder that she is now. But looking at the innocence in her little 6-year-old face is sometimes heart-breaking because I know that one day she will stop believing in the tooth fairy and asking to snuggle between me and her daddy and she will start pissing us off by pushing the boundaries. It's my job to try and make it through the storm she will create as she defines herself on her own terms and love her no matter how many times she disappoints herself...and maybe even me.
She's a lot like me, this little girl. And I wonder how many times I will see myself reflected in her actions as each day passes. The difference, though, is that while I was a teen, my mistakes were only recorded in my journals and written in overly squiggly cursive with i's dotted in hearts. Today's girls have a whole world waiting to serve as judge and jury for every misstep they share on Facebook or twitter or instagram or tumblr. I wish we'd stop judging. I wish we'd stop telling our daughters that it's their responsibility to get it right the first time and that it's their fault for anything relating to sex that may run through a young boy's mind. I wish that we'd just stop with the You Should's and You Shouldn'ts and remember that we didn't stop falling and picking ourselves back up just because we learned to walk.
I wish that I am successful in conveying the importance of never passing judgement on a friend just for making a choice she may not agree with.
I don't want to think about what I'd find searching my name online if the social media had existed when I was 15 or 18 or even 20. But even without the permanent record, I still held my breath waiting to hear my parents tell me that they still loved me. I'm not sure how many second chances they gave me. All I know is that when I fell they were still there to watch me brush myself off as I picked myself back up, reassessed, and gave it another go. One time in college I swallowed a bottle of pills because I just wanted to sleep and panicked when I realized sleeping and dying were to very different things. The friend who took me to the hospital in the middle of the night was a second chance. The friends who forced me into therapy were a third and so on and so forth. I am the product of all of my fuck-ups and all of my successes and I wonder how many of you recognize that about yourselves. We are who we are right now because yesterday happened.
When she's older and looking back like I am now, I don't know how many regrets her yesterday's will hold. I probably won't know half of the regrets that will have been posted online or maybe even all of the little things she is proud of. I might not even know how many second chances she counts as part of the foundation that -- even if a bit cracked here and there -- is still strong enough to hold another tomorrow.