This is not so much a book review but a prescription. If you haven't read it, read it. If your daughter hasn't read it, read it to her at bedtime. My daughter has the audio-book on her iPod and she has heard it half a dozen times.
I recently had lunch with one of my mentors. She told me she had a party for her son when she sent him off to college. She asked her mentor to say a few words at the party.
Her mentor said, "Son, you know that I am a social worker. And mental health professionals will never go out of business because everyone wonders whether their mother loved them. Son, I know you know that your mother loved you."Tina Fey, Bossypants writer, also knows that her parents loved her. She mentions this in her book and it's implications. At Saturday Night Live (SNL), a male coworker once called her a cunt.
Her response: “NO! You don’t get to call me that. My parents love me and I am not the child of alcoholics who take that shit.”Tina Fey is a funny feminist. She is my daughters role model. My daughter dreams of auditioning for SNL, moving to New York, working with Loren Michael, and doing improv because of Tina Fey.
I could not be a prouder momma.
When a guy in a car yells "nice tits" at 13-year-old Tina, she responds: "Suck my dick."
Normally, I would deem this content inappropriate for my daughter. But she gets the irony of the whole situation. The underlying message of that story is: don't take $hit from anybody just because you are a woman (or from any other oppressed group) and stand up for yourself using your Voice (and humor if possible).
The fact that Tina Fey knew this at 13 is pure awesomeness. If my daughter can learn this now from someone she thinks is funny and has a cool job (not like her "boring" momma - her words, not mine), then a chunk of my job is done.
The choices that Tina Fey has made in her life and career - and the courage, honesty and wit that she is able to draw from to write about them - is a testament to her knowing that her parents love her. Her core belief is, "I am loved." This informs her whole life - her choices, paths, responses, reactions and relationships.
Tina Fey writes nuggets of empowerment with spoonfuls of laughter. It makes you want to find your strengths and be who you are. As I read her collection of stories, I think she might as well be an elder teaching women of all ages about navigating life.
Reading Bossypants reminded me of a Taylor Swift song, Fifteen, that goes like this:
'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love youWhen I first heard that song, I ran to my daughter to tell her that when she is 15, boys or men might try to tell her that they love her to get what they want.
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss Makes your head spin round
but In your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy of the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen
When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now
Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried
'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen, don't forget to look before you fall
I told her not to be so easily impressed and to tell them, "I know I am love-able. My parents love me."
She made a grossed out face and rolled her big, brown, beautiful eyeballs at me, "Oh mom! You are so embarrassing! I'm not going to say that!"
"Okay, you're right. That sounds dorky and you don't have to say it. But I want you to think it in your head!"
Every night I tell my girl how much I love her and how lucky I am to be her momma. I am grateful when she says I love you right back.
Maybe my love for her will predict the size of her future royalty checks? Not because she will think that love must be earned through achievement or money but because she will feel empowered to do exactly what she came here to do and that will bring her success. I will let you know how this all turns out in 20 years when I may be found writing to you from the South of France.
(Full disclosure: That last line is not meant to imply that I am a proponent of elitism, materialism or our consumerist culture. I am not trapped in that oppressive system. I choose to drive an 11-year old Toyota Echo in Los Angeles, for goodness sake. I value freedom and relationships over money. However, I was not being sarcastic about winding up in the South of France.)