Take Care of Yourself

Dear Eliza,

The most miraculous thing is happening: You’re becoming a woman. Your body has changed so dramatically that sometimes I do a double-take when I catch you out of the corner of my eye:  I find it almost impossible to believe that the young lady with the slight curve in her hips and the endearing hint of breasts is really the baby girl who came into this world with a full head of black hair a mere eleven years ago.

You know, it was one thing to witness your older brother go through this stage of life. It was like watching a science experiment — the stray hairs sprouting on his face like missed tufts of grass on a freshly mown lawn, the herky-jerky timbre of his voice as it deepened. But as your body grows and changes, it’s less like observing a lab test and more like experiencing a déjà vu. I know how your body is morphing, because I’ve been through it myself.  (But go ahead and lock me out of the bathroom when you shower and insist that I stay outside of the dressing room when we shop, honey: I’m not offended, and I totally understand your self-consciousness these days.)

Here’s what else I know: That beautiful, budding body of yours is the only one you’ve got and it deserves the utmost respect and care. There are so many things you can do now and over the next several years to stay as strong and healthy and lovely as you are now.

1)  Please, please, please wear sunscreen. Always. Remember when Mommy had the spot on her nose and had to have it removed? That was skin cancer. I was very lucky, because it hadn’t grown very deep and now the scar is practically invisible. But there’s no question I developed that little spot because when I was young I would lie out in the sun to get a tan without any protection. Now I have wrinkles I might not have otherwise. If you really want some color on your skin, self-tanner is the way to go.

2)    I know you hate it when I remind you to wash your hair/clip your nails/change your socks/brush your teeth. You’d rather worry about what you’re wearing and how your hair is styled. But believe me, your personal hygiene is just as important. No matter how beautiful your smile (and let’s face it, yours can light up a room!), if your teeth look grody it’ll ruin the effect (and if you wind up with cavities, you’re in for some very unpleasant dentist visits). And remember: Once you start taking proper care of your body, that will tell me that you’re ready to take proper care of pierced ears.

3)    Fuel yourself with good-for-you foods. I understand that for now you’d rather eat nails than spinach—and that’s okay. We’ll get some vitamin C into you with some nice ripe strawberries. But please, give peas (and parsnips and cauliflower and asparagus) a chance: Everything you put into your mouth helps you to grow and thrive and, believe it or not, stay beautiful.

Above all, sweetie, know that you are a lovely person in your own right, and while you’re going to be bombarded by images of rock stars and movie actresses and other famous women, what you’re seeing has in all likelihood been touched up by the photographer, and therefore may not be the truest representations of what these people really look like. When you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the mirror,  my dear. You’re a smart, beautiful girl inside and out, and I’m enormously proud to be your mother.




More Letters
Be Proud of Who You Are

Be Gentle with My Baby

Take It All in Stride

Keep Your Fighting Spirit

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