Letter to My Daughter’s Future Therapist
We received the following letter from mom, @jordanroter… think we can all relate.
To My Daughter’s Future Therapist:
Hello! You may be thinking that this is… awkward… or narcissistic… or maybe even a little unethical. But I wanted to introduce myself nonetheless because you’re probably going to hear a lot about me: I’m Gemma’s Mom!
At “press time,” Gemma is almost 5 years old. I’m writing you this letter because, while I love my daughter with all my heart, and I’m trying really hard to be a great mom, I’m pretty sure I’m doing most things wrong. So I want to get ahead of it a bit, maybe defend myself a little… but most of all, I’d like to fill you in on what got us here in the first place. And I hope that, in some way, these letters will help you help her figure out why she is who she is. At the very least, they will hopefully explain why I did what I did that potentially messed her up for life. Because, let’s be honest, therapy usually boils down to one incendiary topic: your mother.
Speaking of incendiary topics, let’s start with this one: Gemma pooped in the potty for the first time when she was 4 1/2. Word on the street (and by “street,” I mean is that that’s kind of late. And we were ready (financially, emotionally, environmentally) to be done with diapers for at least one of our two children.
So, we offered Gemma “incentives” — everything from books to toys to jewelry. That didn’t work. When we put Disneyland on the table and it still didn’t move the needle, I went against everything I’ve been told to do in every book, blog and parenting class: I offered her a bowl of chocolate ice cream with pink sprinkles.
Within minutes, my daughter sat down on the potty and made a poop.
From what I understand, there are myriad reasons why the chocolate ice cream reward for pooping would mess up a kid (and specifically a girl). First of all, it kind of looks like what just came out (plus pink sprinkles, which I think is an important differentiation, but hey, you’re the therapist, so I’ll defer to you on this one). More importantly, she may forever associate food with pooping, which may lead to a severe laxative problem around sophomore year of college (unless she’s already working in the strip club by then). Or she will forever associate food with reward, so every time she does something well, she will eat. Either way, parents today are told that tying food to reward will almost definitely give their child a variety of eating disorders that would be unequivocally our fault.
All this sh*t got me thinking about how all of this started — with Gemma’s father and me. Because it was actually excrement — and his ex-girlfriend’s pair of size zero Theory pants — that brought us together in the first place.
I met my husband, Guy, when I was 30. He said I was “perfect” — which was sweet, but terrifying — because I worried if he’d still like me when he realized just how very imperfect I was.
So, for the first month of our relationship, I managed not to poop within a several-mile radius of him. My friend asked me how long I planned to keep this up.
“As long as I need to,” I said. “Maybe until we get engaged… I mean, if we get engaged? I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
“I think it’s too late for that. I think you are that person who is just always ahead of herself.”
As weeks passed and our relationship deepened — and I had several talking-to’s with my bowels so that they knew who was in charge — I started adding a toothbrush here, a coffee maker there, a change of clothes. That’s when I found:
His ex-girlfriend’s size zero Theory pants hanging in the closet.
I couldn’t very well let them just hang there, could I? I called in some trusted advisors: my girlfriends.
“You wear them!” said one friend.
“I’m a size eight after a week-long juice fast (at least I assume I would be, I’ve never tried). The pants are size zero. So, no,” I said.
“Wear them as a shrug?” suggested one fashion-forward friend.
“You could give them to her yourself?” pointed out another.
“Because that wouldn’t make me seem psycho or anything? ‘Hi Size Zero, I’m your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, Size Eight (okay, fine, Gap Size Eight), and I found your teeny-tiny doll pants hanging in his closet, so I thought I’d give them back to you. And by the way, how did you let him get away with not having a mattress pad? Were you raised by wolves?!”
I decided to go against all my instincts and everything that made me me: I was going to be “mature.” I brought the pants to Guy and asked how he wanted to handle it.
“This is making me very uncomfortable,” he said, squirming. “I guess I could call her.”
[I cringed]. “Meh.”
[Cringe again]. “Tough call.”
“I could message her on Facebook?”
“You’re still friends with her on Facebook?”
“Now I’m uncomfortable.”
“Look,” he said. “We’re not kids in our twenties. We’re in our thirties. We have pasts. Let’s just be adults about this.”
“You’re right,” I said.
So we hung the pants in the back of the closet and closed the door.
Those miniscule size zero pants hung there — mocking me through their plastic dry cleaning bag — for weeks, until one fateful morning when my bowels took back the night and I didn’t have time for an exit strategy.
I had to crap in my new boyfriend’s house.
It was a Sunday morning. He was still sleeping. I was reading the New York Times Style section. It was bowel movement bliss. Until I flushed the toilet.
And that’s when my new boyfriend’s toilet told me to go f*ck myself…