Earlier today, my husband and I bickered in the kitchen. It probably would have led to a fight, but at this point in my marriage, I don’t have enough of a care factor. I’m miserable and I’m trying to get out.
Later, I drove with my daughter in the car. She sang to the songs on the radio. She doesn’t know the lyrics but it doesn’t matter; she sang and she was happy.
Tears well up in my eyes at the thought of the sweetest little girl in the universe going through the dumb and painful mistakes I made. The pain I have in my marriage is not something I want her to ever experience.
There is so much more I need to teach her than “have confidence” and “always compare expiration dates when buying bread.” Here are the things I’m hoping to teach my daughter.
- Don’t stop at self-confidence. You need self-promotion. You don’t need permission to let others know how great you are and what you’re good at. Promotion isn’t the same as bragging.
- Don’t do anything physically that you don’t want to just because you’re scared to say no. You are always allowed to say no. It might be awkward, but feeling temporarily awkward is much better than a lifetime of regret.
- Learn to fight so you’re not scared. Krav maga type of fighting. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to get you started after this pandemic.
- Guys pay more attention to you before sex than after. That’s when you have power. Don’t feel like if you don’t have sex with a boy, he’ll find someone else. If that unfortunate event should occur, it’s most likely after you have sex.
- Always proof yeast before baking bread.
- Never trap yourself. Lesson learned from your grandmother. Stay employable and have emergency funds.
- Buy property when you can, don’t wait until marriage. You don’t need a ring to buy a place if that’s what you want. If you get married, hold onto that property. Every woman I know who ditched her pre-marital condo lived to regret it.
- People won’t ask for permission to treat you like garbage. You demand how you want to be treated, they don’t dictate that.
- Define your deal-breakers and stick with them. Abuse isn’t only physical assault. Verbal microaggressions chip away at your soul. Know your boundaries.
- Accept relationship sunk costs and walk away. 10 years or 1 year, misery is misery if you don’t see a happy future.
- Don’t think you have to follow the expected path. If your path isn’t a full-time job, marriage, kids, or retirement, then that’s okay. If you have an exciting job opportunity that is completely off your career path, take it. If your heart tells you to explore Spain, do it. The older you are, the harder it is to find an opportunity.
- Don’t send naked pictures to guys. If a guy asks for a naked shot, send him a picture of another guy’s penis. It’s a regrettable mistake that you will never be able to undo.
- Assume humans on the internet (or whatever social media app they’ll have when you’re older) are out to get you. Do not post your real phone number unless it’s for a medical or government agency. If you want Domino’s loyalty points, use a fake phone number that you’ll always remember. Use a decoy email when signing up for accounts that will undoubtedly sell your information. You’ll never regret using a fake name and a fake city when online.
When signing up for anything (again, not medical or government-related), slightly misspell your name. That way, when your information is eventually sold, you’ll receive letters in the mail with the misspelling. You can then toss that junk knowing it’s just spam.
- “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” This may take a while but learn to see red flags from the start, whether it’s with a love interest or a friendship. If it bothers you mildly early on, it will fill you with rage later. If something seems quirky from the start, it will be a hindrance in the future.
- Before getting married, go to couples’ counseling. Have the therapist open every can of worms. It is much easier to end a wedding than to break a marriage.
- At any point in life, feel okay asking for help. You aren’t burdening friends when you reach out. They won’t know to offer. This especially applies to breakups, new babies, and medical conditions.
- Be the friend that offers. It’s difficult to ask for help. When a friend gives birth, don’t ask, “do you need anything?” Tell them that you’re going to the store and you’re happy to pick up extra things. Don’t wait for them to call you after a breakup; text (because let’s be real, no one sad wants the pressure of a phone call) that you’re taking them to a movie that weekend.
- There’s a difference between something making you feel bad vs. something that challenges you. Exercising is a challenge. Public speaking is a challenge. Going to a party where they’re doing things you aren’t comfortable with is not a challenge. If you have an extreme phobia of heights, don’t feel pressured to rock climb. Don’t be miserable if you don’t have to.
- Embrace mistakes. Embrace all the mistakes. No one learns anything perfectly the first time. Embrace relationship mistakes. Embrace career mistakes. You can feel upset. But don’t feel defeated. Life is the school of hard knocks. Make sure to reflect upon the error and figure out how to avoid it next time. If you dwell on mistakes, you’ll never experience progress and success.
- Assuming you don’t get arrested or sell drugs, don’t worry if your choices will disappoint me or your father. I am always here to guide your life but you own your decision. My goal is for you to never live a life of regret.
. . .
I wish I could keep my daughter in a perfect little bubble. In the absence of implanting a chip in her head so that I can guide her through life, I hope I know how to steer her in a direction that leads her to a fulfilling life.
If she learns nothing else, she’ll know to always proof yeast before baking bread.
This post was previously published on A Parent Is Born.
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