–photo provided by BIANCA BETANCOURT

–photo provided by BIANCA BETANCOURT

As of 7:10 PM, Chicago time, on this Wednesday evening, I am 19 (but essentially 20) years old. It was at this moment, however many years from whenever you finally read this, that I for the first time, I understood my own mother.

I was 17 and ridiculously in love. So in love that I would come home from his house every night practically floating up the stairs to my bedroom, flouncing into my blankets and sheets with the stupidest smile across my face ready to think of him, and our day, and our future all until it consumed my mind and commanded my thoughts so effortlessly that I eventually drifted off to sleep.

I also remember countless nights crying. Crying over him—over frivolous things between us,  over serious things that we were both far too young to truly understand—and I remember never understanding why my mother scolded me every time she saw the first sign of a tear stroll down my face.

I was a righteous romantic. Juliet had nothing on me. I would march into my mother’s room and scream into her face about how she understood nothing about me, nothing about him, and especially nothing about love. I was so blinded by my relationship’s static states of bliss I completely ignored how I truly felt inside at times—which at the end of the day was simply, hurt. But no, no, my boy wasn’t the one doing this to me, I was certainly crazy, I was certainly insane, jaded, jealous, and every other adjective that I could use to crucify myself in order to make him still look the best he could, when the emotional stress and pain he was inflicting onto me became increasingly prevalent to everyone else.

I eventually learned how to hide my pain—tighten my throat so I wouldn’t tremble, blink ferociously in order to evaporate the tears, and raise my voice an octave so I sounded completely at ease when I spoke—or I would just pretend I was tired.

And though at first I was confused…and though I had nothing to say afterwards…few images have stayed embedded in my brain so vividly as the time my mother cried with me and admitted the pain she felt watching me cry.

“Young girls should be happy,” she said. And I always knew she was right.

I’ve laid in my bed too many times never wanting tomorrow to come—never wanting to remember the day before, the feelings from yesterday, the pain that just never seems to leave my heart because everything I ached for was everything I couldn’t have---but for the first time, in all of my life, my soul seemed to settle when I thought of the idea of you.

As of now, you’re a complete fixture of my imagination, but tonight was the first time I saw your face.

You looked like tenderness, curiosity, adventure…and potential.

The potential to be everything that every mother wants their daughter to be…smarter, braver and better than she.

Don’t be fooled by what they’ll teach you in science class—it ain’t the sun that makes this world go round, darling, it’s love.

We search for it, find it, treasure it and chase it long after it’s already left. We run around in circles for it because it’s one of the only things that help us feel alive, and the chase is necessary because of what we learn along the way.

Love’s sting—heartbreak—is much like death in the fact that’s inevitable. But like we need love to feel life’s bliss, we need pain to remember to come back down from the clouds. I do believe a love can last a lifetime—it’s finding two people who want to do the work in order to do so that’s the trouble.

I wish I could say I’ll protect you from the pain and no boy will ever make you cry as long as I’m around—but I’d be lying because it’s something I’ll never be able to do.

Incapable of stopping you, you will dive head first because it’s what will feel right. And to a sense—it is right—as long as your head is screwed on tight too.

I actually cannot wait until the day you ask me about him. What he looked like, what he wore—and I would tell you tall with curly dark hair, wrinkled button downs and worn out dress shoes—our first kiss was awful all thanks to me—but that he thankfully gave me another chance.

I hope he and I straighten our shit out so you can even meet him—and have him be the complete opposite of what you imagined in your head—in a good way or bad—and maybe even think your dad is so much better.

Honey, there’s a big chance he could very well be your dad, that’s how convoluted we are—and probably always will be.

But throughout it all, I’ve never once regretted him. And I will never reprimand you for loving yours.

Because all young girls should be