When I became pregnant with my daughter, I was unmarried (engaged). The image I had of parenthood was idealistic. My child and I were going to be close. We were going to be open with each other. I would never have my child feeling like she couldn’t talk to me. No, we wouldn’t be “best friends”, because that’s not what parents are. But…we would not be afraid to speak openly. That baby was going to be my world and would always be my world.
Part of the above came true. She is my world and will always be. I will always be proud of her and be amazed at her awesomeness. This world is a better place with her in it, because, let’s face it. She’s amazing.
Other parts never happened.
We struggled with bonding from the get go. After being in labor for more than 24 hours, I had to have a c-section. They took her away immediately afterwards and gave her a bottle. When I tried to nurse, she would have nothing to do with it. She would just beat my engorged breasts with that damned splinted arm (they had to give her an IV because my water had been broken for so long before she was born). This child that I loved with all of my heart from the moment that I found out I was pregnant…she couldn’t stand me. It sucked.
But Dad? Oh my god. She adored her daddy. I would hold her and she would cry. He would pick her up and she would be as content as can be. Bastard. (By the way, we did get married, dad and I. We are still together.) I cannot tell you how envious I was.
It took time, but she came to like me.
I have always tried to be open with her, but I will admit…I perhaps should have been a little more open. I do not like confrontation. At all. I fought a lot with my mom and I didn’t want that with her. So, at times I just clammed up. I didn’t want the conflict, so I kept quiet. In retrospect, that was the worst think that I could have done.
She moved out and didn’t bother to tell us. We didn’t find out until two weeks later. We haven’t spoken to each other since Christmas day. She’s stopped answering texts or her phone.
Like mother, like daughter.
Oh sweetie, don’t be like me.
Ignoring things leads to anxiety…and anxiety…she’s a bitch. Don’t go down that road.
Anyway, my mom died when I was 16. I never got to talk with her about some of the most important things in life. Not that I would have if she were there…I was also very private with my family. I talked with my friends about things. But friends don’t always know all the answers, especially about things that will only be understood through experience. So, knowing that, I wanted to share some bits of wisdom that I have obtained along the way:
1. Be happy. Trust me, this is not always easy. In fact, it can be downright hard. Sometimes it seems almost impossible. It may feel like the world is falling down all around you and there isn’t a damned thing that you can do about it. Find something, no matter how small, that makes you feel good. Watch the sunrise, take a walk, appreciate the beauty of a flower, something. As long as you have that something, it will all work out.
2. Be honest. Be honest to yourself and others, even if it may disappoint or anger them. Otherwise, it will fester and come to bite you in the ass. Trust me. It’s not worth it.
3. Have fun. Enjoy life. Have fun with your friends. Have conversations, dance, party. Life is too short to waste it. Enjoy it to the fullest.
4. Do stupid things. But don’t be an idiot. If you drink until you throw up, that happens. Learn from the experience. But don’t do it to such an extent that you need your stomach pumped. Don’t get into a car with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs. I’ve known way too many people that cut their life short that way. I wouldn’t recommend anything harder than pot if your are going to do drugs. Pot won’t kill you, but other things will. I certainly wouldn’t take any hallucinogens. You have some of my anxiety issues and that is just a really bad combination. Trust me.
5. Be polite. Hold the door open for others. Pick up things that people drop. Greet people that you walk by on the street. Good deeds bring good kharma.
6. Be smart regarding boys. Seriously. Make sure they like you for being you. You are drop-dead gorgeous, but that isn’t necessarily to your advantage. Being beautiful in many ways can make you a magnet for assholes that are only interested in one thing. Make sure that the guy you are with would be just as happy with you when you have no makeup on, messy hair, and snot pouring out of your nose. Make sure that they are attracted to the awesomeness that you are, not the outer shell. Be treated well. You deserve it. If they make you feel bad about yourself, leave. If they ever raise a hand to you, leave. If they cheat on you, leave. If they force you to do something that you don’t want to do, leave. And then report the son-of-a-bitch. Fall in love. It’s worth it. If it doesn’t work out, then it just wasn’t meant to be. Regardless, appreciate the good times that you had.
7. Go on a road trip. Take time to see the world. Don’t limit yourself to tourist attractions. Enjoy the ride and discover everything that this planet has to offer you.
8. Honor commitments. If you make an agreement, stick to it. If you want to get out of it, talk with the person, don’t just ignore the situation. That’s not fair, and it will make others think you are untrustworthy.
9. Be responsible. Again, easier said than done. Being responsible means not just paying your bills, but conducting yourself with dignity.
10. Be respectful. Think about others. If you think that you may do something that might hurt others needlessly, rethink your options. If you treat others with respect, that respect will be returned to you.
11. Respect yourself. Acknowledge everything that makes you amazing. You have a lot, but I don’t know if see it always. You should. You are kind, creative, funny, expressive. So many things. Don’t forget that.
12. Ask for help. It’s ok to need help sometimes. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It makes you human.
13. Help others. On that same note, help others. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, give it to them. It’s the decent thing to do.
14. Don’t shut people that love you out of your life. Your family will always love you. Accept that. They may not be the family that you want or think that you deserve, but they love you. You don’t need to tell them every detail of your life, but keep them in the loop. Even if you don’t feel comfortable telling them out loud, don’t. But send a text, write a letter, something. We won’t judge you. I’m begging you…if you are ever planning on getting married, tell us. Having a kid, tell us. I don’t want to find out I’m a grandma when the kid is three. By no means am I suggesting that you anything like this is even on the table, but someday it will be.
I’m sure there are more things to add, and I will.
Dang, who would have thought that being the parent of a 21 year-old would be harder than when they were a toddler?