A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter – no.5 “Limitations” and “Death”

Tonight I picked up my four-year-old from daycare after she had class pictures. She announced that her photos were “damn pretty”.

You’re damn right, girl.

 

Here are two more letters.

 

To my adorable daughter,

You’re four years old and in the third percentile for height and weight. At 30 lbs and 36 inches tall, the growth charts put you on track for being 4’ 11” when you’re full grown. Daddy is 5’ 5” and I’m 5’ 0” so you were never meant to be big. In fact, you’re going to be very small.

We were at the grocery store a couple of days ago and I tried to get a bottle of root beer off the top shelf. It came crashing down, burst open, and root beer went everywhere. There were several witnesses and I was pretty embarrassed. I couldn’t leave the store fast enough. Most of the time I enjoy being short, but at that moment it really sucked.

Everyone has limitations of some kind and like I said, I normally enjoy being short. Sometimes I even think I’m cute short; it’s a part of who I am. 

I hope you will also view your short stature as cute, too, and just another part of who you are. You can’t change it, so own it. Oh, and always ask for help in the grocery store. 

Love,

Mom

 

Dear daughter,

I feel like death is a complicated subject when it shouldn’t be. It’s our feelings surrounding death that make things complicated. 

I am scared of death, which is natural, but I’m not worried about where I’m going in the afterlife. I’m scared because there’s so much I want to do in life; will I get to do all of those things? Will I have spent enough time with my loved ones?

I recognize my worries are pretty pointless because when you’re dead you’re not aware of your goals and wants anyway. Death is only sad to those still living.

The belief in souls, heaven, and hell really makes the idea of death murky. I have a simpler explanation. Humans are a part of nature — another speck in the universe — and death is just a part of our life cycle. We return to the earth which we’ve always been a part of. 

It might be a nice thought to think you’ll live on in people’s memories, but the people with those memories eventually die, too. I’ve heard stories of my ancestors but they seem to fade with every passing generation. It’s definitely not the same as knowing them.

Instead of worrying about death, it’s better to concentrate on enjoying yourself now. Your time could be up at any time, so live your life to the fullest. 

My beautiful daughter — I am really enjoying the time I am spending with you right now, and that’s all that really matters.

Love,

Mom

The Shower (Erotic Poetry)

The Shower

 

Wash.
You lather my body
in honeysuckle soap
and sweet anticipation.
Your soft touch
melts my hardened shell —
my armor for the outside world.
I return the favor.

Wet.
The hot water
trickles down
taking with it
time
responsibilities
expectations.
It’s just us
in this one moment
here and now.

Hot.
Soft turns to passionate.
We fumble
giggle
then you pin me
facing the wall.
I inhale sharply
as you enter me
from behind.

Clean.
You explode inside me
and tranquility rains down.
You fill me
save me
protect me.
It’s been a long day.
Now that’s all
down the drain.
All that’s left
is you and me
in the steam.

A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter – no.4 “Sex”

Dear daughter,

Sex is a complicated subject and will be an ongoing conversation for us. I want to arm you with as much information as possible at a young age — hopefully before you are sexually active. I want you to feel comfortable asking questions or for help obtaining birth control.

When I was in high school, sex ed wasn’t even offered. At that time, the state of Ohio required that any sex-ed programs be abstinence-only, which meant they could only teach that sex is only acceptable after marriage. Important topics like consent, contraception, and sexual orientation were never addressed. I hope these strict and ridiculous rules are not in place when you are in school.

I benefited greatly from having an older sister who taught me what she could.

Here are my thoughts on sex. You’re only four years old as I write this, but I’ve made a list of the things I want to tell you.

  1. There’s nothing special about being a virgin.
  2. It’s okay to masturbate. It’s good to know your body and what you like.
  3. Be safe. Use condoms.
  4. Birth control is readily available. Use it. Don’t take your chances.
  5. Always make sure everything is consensual and nobody’s getting hurt — physically or emotionally.
  6. Say no when you need to.
  7. Say yes when you want to.
  8. Don’t be embarrassed about the things you like.
  9. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner what you like. 
  10. Marriage is not necessary. 
  11. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex.
  12. There’s nothing wrong with the type of people you are attracted to.
  13. Don’t ever be ashamed of your body. You’re beautiful and our bodies are amazing.
  14. Don’t listen to other people’s rules and expectations. Make your own.

This list will probably grow as time goes on. Please don’t ever be afraid to come to me if you need help or have questions.

Love,

Mom

 

What would you add to my list?

A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter – no.3 “Religion” and “Small Acts of Kindness”

Two more letters addressing religion and small acts of kindness —

 

Dear daughter,

Religion is a very significant part of our past that will hopefully lose its grasp on our future. 

Religion is in place to keep a select few in power while keeping the masses in control. It’s a system of fantastical beliefs designed to rule by fear. 

It provides explanations rooted in fables for those with a fear of the unknown. Science has provided many answers to our questions, but religion ignores the facts out of fear of losing power.

Different religions claim they are the true faith — the one that’s right — but the most noticeable difference between religions is geographic location. It’s something you grow up with. Is someone going to hell just because they were born in a different part of the world?

You can poke holes through religious stories all day, but there are just some people not willing to consider verifiable evidence. Ignorance is the enemy of progress.

I’m not going to tell you what to believe, but growing up I hope I will have taught you the importance of skepticism in your everyday life. If something is true, there will be evidence.

We have friends and family who practice a religion, and while it’s frustrating to think about, I am not going to turn my back on them. We choose not to infringe on each other’s beliefs. In fact, we usually avoid the topic altogether. 

Religion has caused a lot of pain and suffering throughout history, yet for some people, it provides comfort.

Learn as much as you can about the world and people around you, but do it from a place of empathy. Deep down we are all just humans with the same basic needs.

Love,

Mom

 

Dear daughter, 

For the past week, daddy has been blowing up a balloon every day to surprise you when you come home from daycare in the afternoon. The latex balloons have white dinosaurs on them and come in several different colors. He has been at work for a few hours by the time you get home from daycare, but he loves hearing about your excitement. Every day there’s a new balloon in a different color waiting for you. The pack of balloons probably cost us a couple of bucks but the smile on your face is priceless.

(Also, at this time you don’t know it’s daddy blowing up the balloons. It’s just a happy mystery.)

Small acts of kindness go a long way. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to show a person that they’re important to you. This is good because we don’t have a lot of money; daddy is very good at finding meaningful gifts. 

If you are grateful that someone is in your life, show them. Life is short and our relationships with others are what get us through.

Love,

Mom

 

A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter – no.2 “Help Others” and “Follow Your Own Path”

Happy Halloween! My husband, the magician, and daughter, the kitty witch:

Here are the next two letters in my series, A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter.

 

Dear daughter,

It’s important to help others and your community. You can try to save the world, but please realize there are people in need right here in your hometown. Big causes are important, but neighbors need to help neighbors. Wherever you are, people are meant to help other people. We are all connected through our basic needs and wants. Always remember we are more alike than different. 

We don’t help others in god’s name — we don’t do it in anyone’s name. Some religions use charity to prey on the vulnerable, but it’s important to treat others with respect. Practice empathy. Life is fragile and we could easily be in someone else’s shoes. 

We help others because we’re good humans, and that’s what good humans do.

Love,

Mom

 

To my daughter with so much potential,

I am so excited to one day see the person you’ll become with interests and passions that make you uniquely you.

Explore and try new things, but if you don’t know what you want to do when you graduate high school, that’s okay. You have time. I wanted to be a mother and writer and I didn’t figure that out until I was in my 30’s. The 18-year-old me could have never predicted what the 30-year-old me would want even though I thought it all figured out by my high school graduation. I was kind of crushed when things didn’t go as planned. There were definitely unexpected twists and turns but I’m happy where I’m at. 

As far as finding a partner, dad and I followed a pretty traditional path. We dated for a couple of years, got married, and a few years later had you. We also went to college and bought a house before you came along.

Please don’t feel like you have to follow in our footsteps. You don’t have to be interested in the same things as others in our family. Do what makes you happy. You can have a fulfilling life without a spouse or children. You don’t have to buy a house. Education is important but there are other options than just a traditional college.

Life is short so make the most of it. You don’t have to live up to someone else’s expectations. Set your own goals and milestones and make your life your own. Don’t let anything hold you back.

Love,

Mom

A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter no.1 “Be Proud” and “Indoctrination”

This pandemic has been hard on all of us. I’m going a little stir crazy, but on the bright side, I’ve had plenty of time to write and have been working on several projects.

One project is a collection of letters to my daughter — things I would like her to learn from her secular childhood. Most of the letters are intended for her to read as a teenager and many include stories from her life today as a four-year-old as well as stories from my childhood. 

I would really like to share these letters with you and I plan on posting one or two of them weekly among other posts.

The first two are called, “Be Proud of Where You’re From” and “I Don’t Believe in Indoctrination” with an introduction letter.

 

My sweet girl,

As I begin to write these letters, you are just barely four years old, but you already have so many questions. I’m doing my best to be clear and forthcoming in my answers. I never want to see your curiosity fade. Never shy away from asking questions. You’re learning as much as you can about the world around you and I only want to encourage your enthusiasm and quest for knowledge, which I hope will continue for a lifetime. Stay inquisitive as your interests and passions unfold.

I’m excited to see the person you will become.

Love,

Mom 

 

Dear daughter,

When I first went to college, I was occasionally called “fresh off the farm” due to my country accent. I actually worked pretty hard at trying to sound like I was from the city or suburbs. One word where my accent was particularly noticeable was “again”. I would pronounce it “ah-gee-an”. I didn’t even realize I was putting a whole extra syllable in it until it was pointed out to me. I practiced saying “again” over and over and my accent became less noticeable. I now think it’s pretty sad that I was self-conscious of how I spoke and I regret ever trying to change it.

Meanwhile, I had a professor from Mississippi who had lived in Ohio for decades and still had a thick Southern accent. He didn’t care. It was a part of him and even kind of charming. I should have followed his example. 

Today, I am proud of where I’m from and I know I can’t help how I speak. Now I consider it an endearing part of who I am — just like my professor from Mississippi. 

I know as a teen and young adult you will probably want to get the hell out of Ohio — I know I did. And that’s okay. You are free to explore and I encourage you to go.

Our ancestors were some of the first settlers to the Great Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio and our family has lived here for generations. This is my home and I hope you feel that way, too — whether you settle down here or not. I hope you will have many good memories to carry with you as you find your place in this world.

Wherever you end up, please always be proud of who you are and where you’re from. You will always be welcome here.

Love,

Mom

 

Dear daughter,

By now you know that I’m an atheist and that’s something that’s very important to me. It reminds me to live life to the fullest, focus on my recovery from mental illness, and see the world through a humanist lens. Basically, it’s intertwined with every aspect of my life.

I will never force you to be like me. I don’t believe in indoctrination. I hope by now I have instilled in you the value of verifiable evidence and empathy, but you are free to explore the world however you would like. I want you to learn as much as you can. 

Always be skeptical and make informed decisions, but your beliefs are yours to define.

 

Love,

Mom

Making Progress on My Mental Illness Book

Sorry, I haven’t posted for a while. 

For the past few months, I have been writing a book about my experience as an atheist with a mental illness. I’ve had a lot of ideas for the past few weeks as well as a lot of drive, so I just went for it — even though it meant neglecting my blog for a couple of weeks. I’ve been writing my butt off and I’m happy to say I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’ve also learned a lot about writing, myself, and recovery. I always think of myself learning from projects at work or school, but gaining knowledge and experience from writing this book, a project of my own doing,  has given me a sense of independence, and it’s empowering.

In the book, I write a lot about my eating disorder which has painful and at times confusing — like I just can’t put my thoughts and emotions into words. I gave a few pages to my husband to read hoping he could shine a light on the places where I was having difficulty, however, he thought it was really good, and to my surprise, those few pages gave him some much-needed insight. He didn’t realize the depths of my eating disorder at its current state. I’m not doing anything dangerous, but I have a lot of weird habits that range from annoying to dysfunctional. He said he’d be more gentle when reacting to my behaviors toward eating.

Then there’s writing about my schizoaffective disorder — which I’ve done so many times before. There have been points where I felt like I was just spewing out information, but now I working on telling a story — creating visuals and making it interesting. I try to give as many details as possible — especially when discussing psychosis — in hopes of showing the true nature of mental illness and recovery.

This book has been revealing — even to myself as the author. It’s really making me examine where I stand in my recovery. I didn’t plan this project too far in advance, but it really feels like it’s something I need to do right now, not just for writing, but also for my life — how am I doing and where am I going? This has been a very rewarding project and I can’t wait to see what the end product will look like.

I will keep you updated and post again soon. I hope you are all doing well!

Fun Sexy Thoughts

Hi guys! So sorry for the gap in posts. I’ve been focusing a lot on my other writing projects, and I’m really having a great time working on them.

I am sharing a poem from my erotic poetry book that I’m currently working on. Let’s think fun sexy thoughts instead of last night’s debate.

Peace

White knuckles
grasp the window sill above our bed.
Let the neighbors see
the love that we share.

The cool air caresses our naked bodies
individual but connected.
My knees hug your sides
as we rise and fall together.

My fingernails graze
your back and shoulders
as your powerful release
melts inside me.

Stardust in your eyes
and radiating from the sheets.
A release of frustrations
replaced by this satisfying moment.

World peace is impossible
but in our universe
of endless demands,
this is pretty damn close.

 

Initial Attraction – Person vs. Gender

I am having trouble putting my thoughts into words with the question I have.

When you are first attracted or become romantically interested in someone, which is more important — something that makes them interesting as an individual or their gender?

I consider myself mostly straight and I am married to a man. I fantasize about men a lot, but I fantasize about women a fair amount as well. Unfortunately, I do not have enough experience with other genders.

I guess I sort of have a type — I like men that are nerdy, smart, and older than me, but really I have been attracted to all sorts of people. I feel a unique feature or interesting personality pulls me in more than anything else.

I’ve just always felt that when you fall in love with someone that it’s with the person and maybe at that point, their gender doesn’t matter as much.

But what about when you first meet someone? What matters the most? For me, if it was person vs gender, I think person would win every time. 

Am I making any sense? Does anyone else feel this way?

Day Drinking and Writing – Erotic Poetry

With Covid-19 and a lack of work, I’ve been spending a lot of time day drinking and writing. I’m not going to lie — it’s kind of nice. However, I’m scared that when this is all said and done, I might be out of a job. The mental health board gives us the grant that funds my job, and I know they’re going to be making cuts. With everything going on, how could they not? My job is running an arts program and we all know the arts go first. I’m worried but trying to focus on the here and now. Right now I can write as much as I want, so I have several projects I’m working on. 

I’ve shared a couple of the projects I’m working on, and I’m making a lot of progress, but I don’t think I’ve told you that I’m writing a chapbook of erotic poetry. It is so much fun. 

I want to share a couple of poems I’m working on. (Don’t worry — nothing too raunchy, and yes, I like bald men.) 

 

Softness and Torture

Smooth head,
strong hard-working hands,
and a shy smile —
I love being naked
and watching him touch me
for the first time.
My body is full-fledged
but I’m a shiny new thing to him.
He teases
examining every inch of me
with his careful touch
from my neck
to my anxious hips.
The world dissolves around me
as my body spreads wide
in the nothingness.
We’re alone in the abyss.
He takes command
of my vulnerable state
as my fingers cling to the sheets —
my only anchor to reality.
My fantasies are outrageous
but the way he makes me smile
is genuine.
This stranger takes me
to another world
and I surrender to the
softness and torture.

 

Woman

I wonder what your blonde curls smell like
when I twirl them between my fingers —
beckoning vines pulling me in with every breath.

I wonder what your crimson pout tastes like
or what I will look like with your lipstick smeared on my face.
Give my sheltered life a little more color.

I wonder what it’s like to touch your powder-soft skin
or to kiss the secrets you hide from the world.
I wonder what it’s like to feel your warmth from the inside out.

I want to satisfy my teasing curiosity —
slowly, with all my senses.
I want to celebrate your curves and make you smile.

My husband doesn’t mind.
He’ll leave us alone
because he wants me to love without restraints.

I want my fantasies to be memories and not “what if’s”.