Why I Don’t Miss My Youth

As I ebb ever closer to my mid-thirties, as I find myself choosing to turn off both music and the TV in lieu of a good book, and as I find myself actually watching Lifetime movies (I’m looking at you, Unauthorized Full House Story), I am aware of one thing: I am getting older. I am aging, like a fine wine or extra sharp and extra stinky cheese.

And I am okay with it. I am okay with push-up bras and granny panties. I am okay with laugh lines and gray hairs, though I only see them between dye jobs. (Hello, pink fetish!)

Why?

Because my youth sucked.

Sorry NKOTB, Backstreet Boys, Salt n’ Peppa, and TLC, but I don’t miss you. I don’t miss my fishbowl haircut (my bob seriously looked like it had been crafted from a fruit bowl), my bright blue beeper, or my jelly shoes. I don’t miss neon, flannel, or my “goth phase,” and I sure as shit don’t miss Scrunchies, “tattoo” chokers, or frosted tips.

It’s not that I have a hatred toward these things (because let’s face it, part of me will always love JTT, Bop Magazine, and Justin Timberlake before he brought sexy back); it is because I don’t miss me, middle school me: the one that was an awkward bookworm, studious yet stupidly naive. The one who had a crooked spine and wore a back brace. The one who wore high-water sweatpants, shirts that were two sizes too big — or too small — and green canvas Keds. The one who let kids copy off of her just so she could have friends.

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A Letter To Me, On The Anniversary Of My Depression Diagnosis

Dear Kim,

I don’t know why I’ve never written to you before. Maybe it is because what’s done is done. Because the past is unchangeable. And because your disease — your depression — is incurable.

Or maybe it is because writing to you means writing to myself. Means believing in myself. Means I must love myself.

But regardless of the reason, I’ve never written to you; I’ve never even spoken to you.

I’ve never tried to say or do anything, because nothing I say can protect you from the isolation. From the anger, the sadness, and the pain.

And for that I feel helpless.

I want to protect you — 17 years later, I still want to “save you.” Yet just because I cannot save you, doesn’t mean I cannot help you. It doesn’t mean I cannot make you feel less alone.

You see, it isn’t all bad. Today is the day you learn you aren’t crazy. Today is the day you learn there is a reason for your sadness, your anger, and your racing thoughts. Today is the day you learn there is something behind the endless tears, and all of your senseless and seemingly ungrounded fears.

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Having Kids Showed Me What My Mom Gave Up For Me

From 12 to 18, my mom and I had a tumultuous relationship. In her defense, I was a total brat and a complete pain in the ass. I started wearing makeup. I started smoking. I started skipping class. I was fighting undiagnosed depression. And I was fighting my mother — constantly. It wasn’t until I became a mom of my own that I really understood everything my mother did for me. My dad died when I was young, and it rocked my entire world straight to its core. For years, I took out my anger on my mom, not realizing grieve manifests itself differently for everyone. But having my daughter changed my relationship with my mom and made me realize everything she gave up for her children, and this Mother’s Day, there’s just one thing I want to say to my mom.

Before I was born, my mother was a businesswoman. She worked a job she loved with people she loved, but when she became pregnant with me, things changed. She resigned, moved hundreds of miles away with my dad, and became a stay-at-home mom. Like so many women before and after her, my mother gave up her job and her career to raise her children. And she stayed at home with me and my younger brother for six or seven years. Hell, maybe it was eight. She did it because she wanted to raise us and care for us, and she wanted to be a constant and present part of our lives. She wanted to watch us grow and she was determined to help us do it.

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To The Mother Whose Child Is “Throwing A Tantrum”

Last weekend, my husband and I went out to lunch. Well, my husband, myself, AND our two-year-old daughter. It wasn’t a birthday lunch, an anniversary lunch, or any sort of special occasion, it was simply a spontaneous trip with the fam to try some new New York food.

Things were going well: My husband and I were enjoying a plate of potato pancakes while my daughter colored and laughed and ate fistfuls of ketchup — along with some french fries — but suddenly the mood shifted. My daughter’s laughter ceased, and my little girl was upset. When I asked her what was wrong she pointed to her pants: She told me she had to go potty.

I should have known it was a rouse. It was a way to get “unhooked” and out of her high chair, but since we are still in throes of potty training, I couldn’t say no. I wouldn’t say no. And so I took her to the bathroom.

Unsurprisingly, she didn’t go. The second we got near the restroom door she tensed up. She locked up. She  told me she didn’t have to pee. When I suggested she tried anyway, she huffed and puffed. She turned to run away. And while I did catch her and place her on the toilet, I knew this meal was about to go downhill.

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Stopping To Smell The Roses — And Play In Puddles

Last week, it rained. It wasn’t a big storm, and it didn’t last long, but it was just enough: enough to feed the flowers and trees. Enough to fill holes in the streets and divets and cracks along the sidewalk.

Enough to wet my sneakers, and soak my socks.

As soon as I felt the cool water between my toes, I became was annoyed. (I HATE soggy shoes.) I was tired and frustrated and had a million things to do. There were dishes to wash and clothes to fold. I had an article due before bed, and I wanted to go inside. I just wanted to get home. But my daughter had other plans.

You see, where I saw an obstacle, my two-year-old saw potential. Where I saw a puddle, my daughter saw possibilities. And so she jumped right in.

She kicked and jumped, splashed and laughed.

Initially, I told her to stop. I mean, she was going to dirty. She was going to get messy. She was going to get wet. But then I stood back and watched her. I heard her giggle and scream with delight. I saw the ear to ear grin on her face, and I stopped.

Dead in my tracks, I stopped: What was I doing? Why was I stopping her?

My little girl is going to grow up so quick — she already growing up too quick — and before long that puddle will become an annoyance. Before long, the rain will become bothersome. And before long, she will loathe wet shoes like I do.

But today isn’t that day.

So instead of stopping her, I let her play. Instead of stopping her, I stopped myself. I suspended “adulthood” for a few minutes and I played.

We ran and laughed and splashed and played. Because innocence is fleeting.

Because life is fleeting.

Make no mistake: parenting isn’t easy and sometimes life happens. There isn’t always time to stop and play in puddles because life can — and will — get in the way. But on this day, and in this moment, I had a choice: I could clean my kitchen or I step back and take it all in.

I could take her all in.

So to you, my sweet baby girl, I say this: May you to always to enjoy the promise of an empty laundry basket or cardboard box. (Seriously. I want you to fly to the moon or sail across the kitchen floor, protecting your father and I from a band of unruly pirates.)

May you always enjoy the simplicity that comes from snuggling on a sick day.

May you always see see animals in the sky. And may you always see potential in puddle.

(Don’t worry about the mess; it’s OK. We can clean it up later. I promise, we can — and will — clean it up later.)

 

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