Dear darling angel bunnies,
I know I said my first letter would be about feeding babies but I need to back up a bit. Because something underlies my parenting philosophy and sage advice. I think it might be helpful to you, too.
You are not special.
It pains me to write that because you are the most special and wonderful creatures on planet earth. To me and your Dad. And to your grandparents. But you aren’t otherwise “special.” Yes, you have a multitude of talents. Yes, you are beautiful souls inside and out. Yes, you are everything to me and the absolute best things that ever happened to us. But you just aren’t “special” in that same way to the rest of the world.
But before this gets you down- think about what that really means. A special-ness mindset assesses self-worth based on the self as perceived and valued by others. Because how could you be special unless everyone else recognized you as such? To be worthy, a special person must be known far and wide as the Almighty Special One.
In addition to requiring consistent recognition and congratulation for inherent special-ness, special people must maintain special-ness throughout their life. This is because everyone is no doubt looking at them, marveling at their daily life, judging their decisions, and analyzing every move they make. Yes, while at the center of the universe, special people feel the obsessive urge to continually strive for the outward appearance of humility, perfection, ambition, and contentment, lest their adoring audience grow bored.
All of that sounds ridiculous and exhausting, right? Because here is the secret: nobody cares about you, but you. Again, it pains me to write this. But it is the truth. Outside of your loved ones, nobody else really cares what you do. Yes, they might judge you. Yes, they might gossip about you. But beyond that, nobody really gives a shit.
Your Dad broke this heart breaker of a truth bomb to me when we first started dating. I, being the ultimate in special, was highly offended. How could I not be special!? I was an only child who was petted with special-ness praises throughout my life.
But your Dad told me otherwise. And so after random nights of youthful 2 a.m. intox-embarrassment, when I would stare at the ceiling and ruminate on my shameful conduct (why did I have to walk around with no shoes? How many Doritos Locos-Tacos did I inhale standing around at that bar? Was anyone else even eating?), he would tell me to let it go. Because everyone else was probably chastising themselves over their own poor performance. And even if they weren’t, nobody really cared what I did. They only cared about themselves.
Girls, this is great news! This is liberating news! If you are not special, nobody is watching your every move, and your self-worth is not based on the opinions and valuations of the world, what is left?
You are left. A purer version of you. Without a special identity to maintain, you are free to do what feels right to you. You can decide what you want, who to love, what jobs you like, what jobs you hate, and if you want kids or you just want some cats.
And should you have kids, freeing yourself from the special-ness mindset will come in really handy. Because for some reason, people have major opinions about everything woman, mother, and raising kids. Like literally everything. That part is not your special-ness mindset talking- that’s the real world.
So if you go into parenting requiring extrinsic adoration, you are going to get hurt by that crap. Really hurt. Because the judgment is real. Some people will applaud your choices and some people will abhor them. It’s on you to decide how much power and value to give those judgments because remember- how much do they actually care? Are they sitting there pondering you and your children? No. They care only about themselves. So their judgments should be worth zip and you should just keep doing you.
Parenting, especially at the beginning, can be a confidence destroyer. There is no manual for it. There are books and some classes you can take. But your baby will come out an individual and you are going to have to figure it out mostly on your own. And you are desperate to get it right! You want to be a great parent. Nothing can hurt more than thinking you are fucking it up, or thinking that other people are thinking you are fucking it up. And the quickest way to feel like that is to give other people’s opinions and judgments too much space in your head.
So girls, you aren’t special. Nobody seriously cares what you are doing. The judgment and the gossip may be real but you don’t have to give any of it power. And to the extent that people judge and gossip anyway, who gives af.
At least that’s what I try to tell myself. I am in no way an expert at anything I just said. I still find myself ruminating on my latest social embarrassment (admittedly with less Doritos Locos Tacos, thank God). It sounded pretty good, though.
I love you, support you, and you will always be the most special people in the world to me (just maybe not to everyone else).