I'm in the grocery store by myself. That's right mamas. I know you're all thinking this could be the first line of a fantasy novel.
As I cruise the aisles at my leisure not at all fearing an eminent tantrum for whatever sugary cereal has the best toy, the song “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift comes on.
First let me state, I like Taylor Swift. Her songs are catchy, and I give her props for writing her own lyrics.
So I'm jamming out to this song like no one is watching as I try to decide what rice to buy (Again, I'm bragging.). I've heard this song a million times and I'm singing along but for the first time I'm thinking about what is actually being said and I have an overwhelming feeling of “'Wait.....NOOOOOOO!”
As a mother of three girls, I don't want them to ever have a “blank space” – a space that insinuates that their lives are somehow incomplete without someone. I want them to know there is always room for themselves to grow, learn and become who they need to be and none of that revolves around any one person. I want them to know who they are and feel confident in what they want before they invite (A priceless invitation to an exclusive club.) a man to become a permanent fixture in their lives. And even then, I want that to be a bonus, icing on the preverbal cake, not an empty space they've been waiting to fill.
Am I tearing apart a simple, fun-loving song to prove a point? Yes, because our children are listening to it on repeat and know every word. I don't think it's going to destroy them or ruin their beliefs, I mean the first song I listened to on repeat was Offspring's “Self Esteem” (I had older boy cousins.), and I didn't turn out to be a stalking doormat. But it does inspire me to speak to their hearts about this “blank space.”
First off, love is not a game. Love is real. Don't play with people's hearts. Be real. The more confident you are in yourself, the easier this is. Don't play hard to get; be hard to get. Boys don't want to be tortured. Your brother is a boy, and I will tell him to think of you and how he would like to see boys treat you. How would you like girls to treat him?
Second, don't ever go after a man for money, especially new money (Ugh! They're the worst.). All the money in the world can't buy your happiness and/or him class. Be self-sufficient.
Third, you don't need to have an end game all the time, but if you think something's going to go down in flames, get out immediately. You, first of all, are not in the right frame of mind to be in any relationship. Relationships should be based in trust and mutual respect.
Next, when in this relationship based in trust and respect, be yourself. In fact, if you don't feel like yourself, or the best version of yourself, that's a red flag. Being with the right person should make you feel more you than ever. The right person will look at all your quirks and say, “Yes! The weird in me honors and respects the weird in you.” I want you to have an overwhelming sense of belonging, which is different from an empty feeling inside that needs to be filled.
Now, I'm just going to start bullet-pointing the rest of the blank space issues:
• If you feel insane, get therapy. The only insanity should be the amount of inside jokes you have with your special person or “lobster.”
• Starbucks doesn't fix anything except mornings. Put off becoming addicted for as long as possible.
• Don't lie. Ever. It's never worth it.
• Emotional blackmail isn't becoming. And I will ground your butt if you use it on me.
• Mistakes are allowed but shouldn't be premeditated.
• If you're going to leave the country, have an escape plan and carry cash.
• Being young isn't annoying unless you use it as an excuse for doing ridiculous things. Use your head.
• If you feel jealous, address why. Don't ever deal with another woman. Be clear about that. Guard your heart.
So to all girls I say, don't leave a blank space. You are amazing and unique. Be full knowing that. Go out and find yourselves and your purpose and the people who help you encourage this. Life's an adventure not a game.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids