I was not a terribly behaved child, nor was I a totally rotten teenager. I have wonderful relationships with my parents now, and I felt like I could confide in them for the last 30 plus years of my life. However, there are more than a few mistakes I've made that I don't want my daughter to repeat, both for my own sake as well as hers.
Hindsight is such an annoying thing, isn't it? In hindsight, I shouldn't have been so shy in college, I shouldn't have driven my parents quite so bonkers in high school, and I easily think of a handful of times I should have been kinder to those around me. But of course, it's so much easier to see those things when you're 10 or 20 years down the road. So instead, I'm putting all my energy into helping my daughter figure things out a little quicker than I did, so she doesn't repeat the same mistakes down the road.
I don't have the answer to how exactly I'm going to keep my daughter from repeating the mistakes I made, but I do figure that identifying those mistakes is probably the first step in the right direction. So for all you moms with a few childhood or adolescent regrets, let's commiserate together, shall we?
How I Dealt With My Parents
Now that I'm a parent, I look back on some of the ways I dealt with my parents or disobeyed them or disappointed them when I was growing up with whole new perspective. Perspective I wish I could have had at the time, instead of 20 years later. All those times I missed curfew, or the time I took the car when I only had my driving permit, I wish (for their sake) I had had the perspective I can only enjoy because I'm a parent now. Some of those mistakes are part of the adolescent learning curve, but for my daughter, I hope she isn't left with some of the guilt that I still carry today about those mistakes.
How Much I Worried
It took me so many years to finally realize that worrying was going to get me absolutely nowhere. I know I spent precious time worrying about grades or homework or having a boyfriend or any number of those things. In fact, it was only a few years into my marriage that I truly let go of at least the minor worries that took up so much of my time.
Now I remember the magnets on my sister's fridge, which spell out, "Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won't get you anywhere." that, friends, is what I'm going to be teaching my daughter.
How Afraid I Was To Be Outgoing Or Brave
I was pretty outgoing and confident through most of my childhood, but when I got to college my confidence was quickly sapped. I went from being a high performing high school kid, at the top of my class, to just about average. It had been so long since I had to make new friends, too, so I felt in over my head.
I wish I hadn't worried so much about fitting in or seeming strange, and had just jumped into new groups of people with a little more bravery. This is definitely something my husband and I are going to try to teach our daughter as she grows, so that she knows it's totally fine to put yourself out there.
How Little Time I Spent Reading
I read like a maniac when I was younger. In fact, I grew up next to a library. But when I moved to Ireland, the library was full of books about Irish people and, honestly, I just wanted to escape back to the imaginary land of America when I read. It drastically cut down on my reading and it's been a hard habit to build back up with so many screens available and many, many other responsibilities that take up time and energy.
Still, I don't ever want my daughter to fall out of practice of reading, and I want to make sure she always carries a love of reading with her.
How I Viewed The World
I spent a lot of my life as the kind of person who viewed the world in black and white. Not racially, but in terms of right vs wrong or good vs bad. It took me so long to realize that the world is just made up of various shades of grey, and that one wrong thing doesn't make you a terrible person. I was the kind of person who literally didn't drink until I was 21 years old. It I had dabbled a little in high school, but when I got to college I became such an annoying rule follower. It kept me safer, maybe, but it also made me a little less fun and a lot more judgmental.
How I Fostered Relationships With My Siblings
For so many years, my sister and I were at each others' throats. All through high school, she drove me absolutely nuts. I wish that hadn't been the case. I'm not sure my parents could have done much more than they did to try to help us get along, but gosh I wish there had been some miracle cure. I wish we had seen each other as the allies and best friends that we see each other as today. My childhood would have been so much more fun.
How Much I Procrastinated
I didn't always procrastinate when I was younger. In fact, some classes in college I was often a few weeks ahead of my work. (See, my no-partying attitude did have some benefits.)
However, when I found myself in a pickle, like the time I was completely clueless and not understanding a single thing in my Politics of the European Union course and waited until after the drop date to tell anyone about it. I hope I can teach my daughter that doing annoying things earlier gives you so much more freedom in the long run. Dropping that class or getting help earlier, no matter how awkward or embarrassing, would have freed up so much more of my mental energy.
How Fast I Drove My Car
I honestly hope we're able to keep my daughter from speeding like I did when I was in college. I got so many speeding tickets, I'll have you know, that my license was revoked once. Not one of my finer moments, but it also showed that I sort of thought I was above the law (in some ways, clearly not in others) and I could artfully avoid getting tickets. Jeepers, I would have saved hundreds of dollars in speeding fines if I had just slowed down, and I hope we can keep my daughter from making that silly and dangerous mistake.
While we're at it, we're somehow going to keep her from texting and driving, too.