Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011


River City Jules: Will daughter’s self-image be healthy? Outlook good

August 1, 2011


One of my biggest sources of stress as a mother is thinking about the future. Not so much the endless laundry to wash and fold, the roughly 11,000 meals left to plan before they all leave for college or wondering how much gas will cost by the time I’m done hauling kids around town. That’s the easy part.

Much more stomach-churning is second-guessing every decision made, word spoken and minute spent that shapes our four kids into the hopefully contributing and respectable adults I, on my most optimistic days, envision them becoming.

Will they move away? Will they willingly come home for the holidays? Will they avoid drugs, venereal diseases and mug shots?

Our oldest three have big dreams that, thankfully, do not involve living with us forever, but our baby, Caroline, had never seemed too concerned about the future until this summer, when I overheard her interrogating her Magic 8 Ball with a couple of friends. I found her questions to be very telling.

“Will I be a really good singer,” she began, “as good as Taylor Swift?” As I listened to the blue water slosh around inside the ball, I chuckled remembering having the same wish as a young girl. Of course not about Taylor Swift, more like Bonnie Tyler. Or even better, to be the keyboardist for the Go-Go’s. Instead I went on to perform in some pretty outstanding late night sing-a-longs around the piano at the Delta Upsilon house in college, which was probably even more fun.

“It is certain!” she sang with glee.

The next question threw me a little. “Will I be really pretty someday?” I heard her ask.

Where had I gone wrong? How could she not know she was beautiful after the past eight years together?

“You’re pretty already!” I called from the next room over hoping with everything I am that she will grow up with enough sense to reject the seedy advances of bar-hopping cheeseballs from exotic lands like New Orleans with their weak pickup lines, trophy triceps and whiskey breath all because her parents instilled such an unbreakable sense of self-worth and confidence that would rise above any attempt to be randomly bedded in exchange for feeling pretty.

“Your dad and I love you!” I pleaded again.

“Without a doubt!” she happily chirped, oblivious to my fears.

I was just about to burst into the room belting out Pink’s (extremely) perfect song, when I heard something unexpected come from Caroline.

“Will I ever grow facial hair?” she asked her 8 Ball in a voice that closely resembled Billy Bob Thornton in “Slingblade.”

The sound of the shaking of the ball was drowned out by the laughter of little girls who immediately brought me back to 2011, where Caroline remains 8 years old and finds herself to be hilariously magnificent just the way she is, as do I.

Still, I think we both breathed a sigh of relief when the Magic 8 Ball answered, “Don’t count on it.”

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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