Today my daughter turns 17. 17! I remember the day and the days ahead were filled with concern as to how I would survive this world with a child and as a single parent. I look at her and think, “Wow. You’re actually okay. I am doing pretty good as a parent. Somehow. It’s a miracle!” Somehow by the grace of God, the foundation of firm principles laid by my parents, wisdom I ask for almost daily, and through trial, error, and experience she’s a pretty good young lady. There is no perfect parenting because there is no perfect parent. However, I try to make sure I am doing the best I can.
I take an active approach to improving not only myself as a person but, myself as a parent. Am I being the best parent I can be? What can I learn to help me? What can do differently? Did I say I was sorry? Did I say I was wrong? I read. I pray about it, too and ask for guidance. I approach every year by trying to remember what it was like to be 17. I read any article about being 17. I stay up on trends and current issues. I like to be “in the know” about what she knows. And I do my best to guide this leg of her journey. However, I have started to prepare myself for letting go and being more of the guide and not the driver. I think I may have started her first year in high school more so than middle school. (It’s never going to be easy no matter how much you prepare! And you’re never going to really let go!)
Some parents seem to believe that when their children turn 18 they are an adult and you let them go. You turn them loose. You let them do whatever they want to do. You are done. I beg to differ. They need you all the more in their young adulthood but, in a different capacity. Whether they listen or not, is totally up to them. Hopefully, we have established a good enough relationship, and I believe we have, that we can at least have the conversations needed in certain times. She’s pretty honest about how she feels. I asked her how does she feel being 17. Nervous? Getting close to being independent? She said yes. I told her she will be fine. I would be there to help. To push. To prod. To fuss. 🙂 To teach. To learn with her. Things have changed. We have to adjust as parents and we have to know when to hold to certain principles, values, and morals. I am thinking person. Analytical, logical, and emotional. (Ha!). And because we have to do so much as a parent other than clothe, feed, and shelter, this is why it’s impossible to get everything right.
I picked my daughter up from school and as soon as she got in the car I knew something terrible must have happened that day. I said “What’s wrong?” She said “A girl tried to fight me today.” I won’t go into details about the ordeal, but I will tell you one thing that made me proud. My daughter said to her “I don’t fight. I don’t fight unless I have to defend myself. I don’t believe in being violent. That’s not what I do, but if you want to talk it out we can. But, I am not going to fight you.” Then she said the girl kept it up (the teacher was out of the room) and my daughter said she got up and left the classroom. My daughter was so angry her head was hurting. She was so upset, stressed, that she talked about it for an hour. I was angry, to0. BUT, I had to be a MATURE and RESPONSIBLE PARENT and not let my emotions of someone causing my daughter turmoil get the best of me.
She asked, “Was I wrong for defending my friend?”
My response: No, but the best way to defend your friend when someone is talking about them is to REMAIN their friend in spite of. The other girl has a right to say whatever she wants to say about anyone. It’s her right to be a gossiper, a liar, a mean girl. Sometimes it’s a reflection of parenting and sometimes a parent has no idea their child is acting this way. Though, I suspect, they may have some clue and ignore it.
She informed the hall monitor, the hall monitor sent her to another classroom and the teacher in that classroom welcomed her in. Once things were offer they went to the original classroom, to let the other teacher know what happened. In the end, the teacher took care of the situation and she has not had any problems this week.
Another thing that bothered me was my daughter said she knows people talk about people. She knows people even talk about her. However, it seems as if this year, she is more aware of it as she can actually hear them saying things about her. You know, she’s weird or she basically is a student with good conduct and good grades. A nerd, so to speak. Ahhh, I can relate to those days. Plus I had red tha stood out in the midst of African American children. I was called names from Elementary to High School. It did affect my self esteem. She’s also an artsy, do your own thing, don’t follow the crowd type of girl, which I raised her that way from a toddler up until now. I realized a long time ago, my daughter is her own person. But, I also raise her to respect others, let others be themselves, don’t force your religious beliefs on others, don’t put people down and talk about them, and to be kind and tough when you need to be. And to please think before you act and think for yourself! She is not perfect…but who’s child is? Obviously, the mean girl is not perfect. However, some things you just EXPECT from your children. Kindness and nonviolence should be two of them.
To sum it up to her: “I know this was a terrible experience. A worse day in high school history. This will not be the last time you encounter mean girls. Mean girls have self esteem issues. Mean girls are trying to find their place. Mean girls may have family problems. Mean girls can sometimes, after life forms and shapes them, because their parents wouldn’t, can become nice girls or women in the long run. However, when you start working and living in this world, you will find some mean women who are still the same mean girls. Sadly.”
I know I had plans for my life at a very young age. Some people at a young age were dealt a blow that would change their course very early and some seem to have set their goals and achieved without much hindrance. We should have enough common sense to realize and comprehend that we all start our journey from different points with many things to factor in from the supporting parent to the non supportive parent. From a prestige education to surviving an environment where a parent didn’t care if you made it through school or not. It’s clear to me how these things and many more things affect each one of us differently. This blog is for those of us whom have had a series of unfortunate events.
Overcoming a series of unfortunate events in your life is not an easy feat. I have learned not to expect it to be. I can’t tell you why some are born and seem to have things knock them down back to back to back with barely enough room to catch a breath. I can only offer my philosophy like anyone else. I do recommend taking a philosophy that helps you to become stronger and to persevere verses one that teaches you to blame yourself without forgiving yourself. I can tell you what I did that probably brought Rheumatoid Arthritis out of remission but, I can’t tell you for sure why I developed Juvenile Arthritis in the fourth grade. I could say it was my lot in life. I could blame myself for the Rheumatoid but, that would only keep me in a state of stagnation. You could blame yourself, God or others for what happened to you or where you are but, that will only keep you in a state of stagnation. In other words, you won’t move or progress. Even if you manage to achieve great things in the realm of education and career, you will still be stagnant emotionally/mentally destroying relationships and self carrying anger or resentment.
During unfortunate events in my life, here is what I have learned so far in no order:
Cry. Don’t cry. Be upset. Be angry. Yes, feel and then make a deliberate decision to take the necessary steps to heal.
Do I need to know why? Yes. I find my why. I decide to acknowledge it. Learn from it. Sometimes I feel bad about it but, I move on into a productive action. Sometimes swiftly, sometimes eventually. If I am stuck I seek help. From God, friends, therapy, meditation, a book on what I am going through, etc.
Do I need to know why? No. Just keeping going I tell myself. The why will come later or it may never come. I still must keep going.
It just is. Deal with it now or later but, you must deal with it.
Do I know better? Then I must do better.
Helping others go through what I have experienced makes me feel good.
Survive the ordeal first then thrive.
Baby steps can turn into a brisk walk then a jog, then a run and then leaps and bound and now you are flying!!! This is thriving!
Dang, I’ve been through so much. I am still here. I am strong.
I don’t have to be strong all the time.
To love myself and to love others after what I’ve been through, going through is what being strong really is about. Bitterness makes me ugly. It makes me vulnerable to hate. I can hate what happened but, I can’t let hate reside in me.
Eat, Love, Pray, Meditate, Create.
Pain is energy. Energy can be transformed.
Let go. If it’s negative, bad for you.
Hold on. To yourself. To your children. To God. To Peace. To laughter.
Healing hurts. But letting a wound go unhealed hurts worse and could kill you dead (ha).
Some unfortunate events can lead you to a fortunate journey.
It’s not possible you would know everyone who walks along a crowded street or those standing with you at a concert.Crowd funding consists of strangers and a few people you know contributing to your cause or project. It’s not likely those people know you from the eyes of a good friend or the perspective of a wonderful family member. So, in this life why do we seem to crowd fund our self esteem? I know I am guilty of this from time to time but, oh I remember the days where I relied heavily on the opinions of others and even sought after validation. Thank God! Thank God because I did the hard work and made it through the mistakes to get to this point to talk to you, unashamed, about crowd funding your self esteem.
What people don’t understand about those who struggle with self esteem issues is it didn’t start yesterday. They also don’t understand the complex journey it takes to go back in your life and discover where the seeds were planted and the hard work it takes to cut the roots of low self esteem. Crowd funding your self esteem is when you rely on the contributions of others opinions to fund how you feel about yourself. You should cancel this fund raiser (thought) each time it pops in your mind. I could go through a bunch of steps on how to do this but there is this one saying that sums it up and you could tape it to your forehead or mirror. Which ever is more fashionable for you!
The quote is: Comparison is the thief of joy-Theodore Roosevelt
Why are you sad now? Why are you feeling defeated now? Why are you feeling bad about yourself now? You just compared your progress, success, where you are, to someone else’s progress, success, how farther they are in life than you are and now your joy has been stolen by comparison. Stop that. Learn to admire others and set your OWN goals. If June buys a million dollar home don’t try to buy a million dollar home simply to measure your success by June’s. Look at your bank account, do the math, and buy what you can afford. If Courtney just ran her first marathon and you just made it running a mile, how UNFAIR is that to compare yourself? Your diligence and her diligence is simply diligence. I tell you “a truth” as Jesus said in the Bible when he was about to introduce a new concept: If you learn to CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES AS WELL AS OTHERS you wouldn’t need to crowd fund your self esteem.
Don’t compare yourself with others. Instead, celebrate yourself and others.