Today’s Top 3 Things I Would Like to Tell My Daughter Going into Adulthood:
1. Travel! It’s not always easy to travel because travel takes both money and time, and often times, we have to spend too-too much time to make money. It’s the double-edged sword of everyone’s life, and a fact of one. BUT, traveling and seeing the world should *also* be a fact of life. The only way to understand how this world works, and how different cultures — that unify this world — work, is to go and submerse yourself in them. Reading up on culture and other countries is very enlightening, and no doubt broadens your worldview and makes you a more well-rounded individual; but until you see it, smell it, taste it, and mix with it, you only have knowledge without experience. I believe in *experience*! When I was in high school, I day-dreamt about traveling and seeing the world every single day. I couldn’t WAIT to graduate and get out there and be a globetrotter! But, I found excuses left and right: I wanted my own apartment; I wanted to save more before I went; I was afraid to stay in hostels without someone to buddy system with me; I was afraid of what other people would think if I didn’t go straight to college, etc., etc. I regret this now. Wholeheartedly. I wish I had thrown caution to the wind and taken a summer, or a couple semesters, or a whole year to backpack through Europe. But you don’t have to go whole hog your first time out… You can keep a kitty you fill with $10 a week from your paycheck and watch it grow. While it’s growing, you can research all your opportunities to travel lightly and on a dollar. Sure, we all wish we could experience it ALL when we step foot on foreign land, but it’s doubtful it would be any less transcendent on a dime. You can make foreign friends in America who have trustworthy family overseas who would be willing to host your stay. You can stay in affordable places. You don’t have to go to every fancy restaurant or stay right in the heart of the city where it is more touristy and pricy. There are just many ways to see the world, and they don’t all have to be a “vacation” — you can go and live with the people and get the truest heart of the culture, and it will still be the same experience of a lifetime (if not more). All I am saying is not to put off traveling for that new leather couch you want so badly, or to put it off for another year because you’d rather have the cash to shop in fanciful boutiques — some things don’t add as much to LIVING, some things aren’t the substance of an experience that matter, and sometimes time runs out and then it never happens. Make the time for both travel and yourself. When you work hard, pay your bills, take care of your responsibilities, then it is time to pay yourself. Pay yourself the pleasure of EXPERIENCE. Meet the people you share this earth with; eat their food, celebrate their traditions, hear and learn their language, be awestruck by their architecture, understand their history, and make the unfamiliar familiar. It’s the only way to broaden (your) horizons; by seeing it from every angle of this melting pot planet we co-habitate on. Be safe, be responsible, but experience as much as humanly possible!
2. If you decide to have children when you are older, resist the urge to make them “perfect”. Perfection is a trap, and your children — as much as their maturation and milestones can * sometimes * be a reflection of your parenting — are not a mirror image of you. They came into this world their own creatures. When you were born, you came into this world as an infant with these intensely awesome muscular legs, biceps, and nothing but force. Soon after you were born, you became my “Butterball Turkey” — you had a voracious appetite for life and were instantly on the move, forever curious and strong like a Sumo wrestler! I knew this, innately and maternally, when you were inside my womb. I had made the oath from the day I found out you were inside of me to never put you in those crunchy, uncomfortable, starchy dresses that they sell in stores, but I didn’t know for sure what your nature would be (though I had a veeery good idea). I can remember taking you to story times at the bookstore, Gymboree, and play groups seeing these little babies in perfectly pressed dresses, stark white matching lace ankle socks, little shiny Mary Jane shoes the size of robin eggs, and ribbons and bows festooning lovely locks of soft curls, in precise order. I recall, vividly, thinking, ‘How do they DO that?!’ You, from day one, pulled every barrette out of your hair, kicked off your shoes the second you got in the carseat, and wore absolutely everything you put in your mouth like plastic pop-bead jewelry. For at least 2 years, the only thing I could keep you in was DROOL! ::snicker:: You just were not the prim, petite, little lady — you were what I called a “Tomboy Princess”. You loved dressing up, but you did it with dirt under your nails and mud on your knees. You’re 9 right now, as I write this, and you are still this way. You don’t want to do much more than brush your hair, let alone do pigtails or braids. You like putting on a pretty dress from time to time, but then you go out and dig for earthworms in it. You like to paint your toenails, but before they dry, you pull off the polish because you’re wrecking your scooter. This is YOU. This has always been you. (Something tells me right now, you’re looking at your feet and realizing it still IS you, today.) I never did anything but celebrate it. Sure, you had to be hygienic; and before going into somewhere where it was appropriate, we took a Wet One to your whole body, but you were never “perfect” and that is absolutely what makes you so. Perfection is a trap that tells people it isn’t okay to be the way they innately are. Try not ever look at your children and see them through the eyes of YOUR concern of being judged. Don’t create a stigma that will force your children to judge themselves all because there are some people out there who see your authentic child as a reflection of you. Be proud. All your life, I have been proud of you. I loved you just the way you were (are). I didn’t care how the world saw me; I wanted them to see you for who you were. Those who had their opinions were wrong, plain and simple; and they also didn’t matter. What makes you perfect is that you’re not afraid to NOT be. Perfection is unimaginative… (<– That word has never, and will never, describe you.) Never stop digging for worms. (I am 38 and still do it because YOU taught me well.)
3. Learn to do ‘it’ yourself. In this life, we are given infinite resources and tools to learn how to do things on our own. Don’t just access the tools, but learn how to operate them. You are capable of doing anything from changing your own tire to catering your own party. It is more than fine and okay to hire someone to do it if you have the means to, but life has phases and many of them require you to take care of things on your own. Likewise, it is okay to assign different tasks to you and your partner, but NEVER depend on them. You are just as ready and able to do the same things as anyone else, male or female. When I was a single mother and it was just you and me, I had a pretty decent knowledge of a lot of things from all my different career paths before you were born, but even so, it was still another crash course in independent survival. I exhausted all my resources, did my fair share of “homework”, and asked a lot of questions/for help with instruction. What I didn’t know, I was taught or taught myself. Many times I would have been more than happy to just hire someone out, but I didn’t have the ability to then. It is liberating and a real sense of accomplishment to learn to be self-sufficient. And even if I messed some stuff up and made problems bigger in some way, I had the sense of pride that I tried and given myself a deeper understanding. From mistakes we learn to fix. So, sometimes we’re forced to learn things were not all that interested in. Sometimes we develop an interest we never knew we had. Sometimes we discover that when times are different, we will NEVER do that thing again. ::grin:: BUT, we learned something, neither here nor there, and that IS something. That’s learning to try before depending. It often times turns out so much different than you’d ever think!
… Oh, and I love you more than the flowers love the rain!
~ Heather Angelika
Owner/Founder of Gallant Girls