I have a daughter that will be turning 30 this year. The lamenting has already started:
“I thought I’d be an adult by now.”
“I just want my life to be more together.”
“I’m not where I wanted to be at this age.”
“How can I be almost 30 and I still haven’t ____________?” (insert any number of statements, from graduating college to bought a house to opened my own business)
My daughter looks at me as a voice of reason, a mature, accomplished professional, and a kick ass parent. (Why she still ignores my advice is anyone’s guess. Stubborn as a mule, she is.) Anyway, I am all of those things, thankyouverymuch, but I’m sure in reality not to the degree that I’ve achieved in her head. I think it’s about time, though, that I introduced her to the 30 Year Old Me.
The 30 Year Old Me wasn’t yet comfortable in my own skin. I had no confidence in my opinions, my style, or my standards. I changed like the wind.
The 30 Year Old Me was volatile and hot headed. I hadn’t learned to manage anger, and my behavior when I was angry was abhorrent. Yes, even towards my children.
The 30 Year Old Me was incapable of having a strong relationship. Since I was insecure with me, I was insecure in my relationships. That means I spent more time trying to craft arguments and conversations to get the reaction I wanted than I ever spent truly working on building a relationship.
The 30 Year Old Me lacked discipline. I’d get tired of trying to make everything work the way it was supposed to on paper, and would end up intentionally sending the electric bill payment to the phone company and vice versa so I could buy some time and blow money at Chuck E. Cheese.
The 30 Year Old Me couldn’t see the forest for the trees. As much as I preach to my kids now about how time flies, I lacked the patience and insight to slow down and enjoy how precious the days were. I worked like a dog, and while others would look upon that admirably, in truth it was a defense mechanism. I felt like my whole life was out of my hands, but I could certainly control things in my job.
The 30 Year Old Me was a closet drama queen. I say “closet” because there was no one to be dramatic in front of, but every obstacle that I came across was devastating and the end of the world.
The 30 Year Old Me had no plan past the next 72 hours. I let life happen to me rather than take control of it. I lived paycheck to paycheck, hoped some better job would fall in my lap, and prayed the transmission didn’t go out in my car.
The 30 Year Old Me had no confidence in my parenting. I would issue a directive, and get the lashback that parents get, and I’d cry myself to sleep for days on end because I was sure I was the worst Mom EVER.
The 30 Year Old Me didn’t know how to say “no”. I volunteered for everything. I gave away my time, my money, my attention, and my effort to anyone who asked for it because I thought that made me a “good” person, and I desperately craved approval from others.
The 30 Year Old Me drank way too much, way too often, and justified it with the “single Mom” mantra. Add the anger issue in there, and I’m lucky I didn’t end up in prison.
The 30 Year Old Me was seriously irresponsible. I didn’t change my oil when I should have. I didn’t return library books on time. I didn’t return phone calls. I piled up debt. My laundry room was a disaster, and my lawn was even worse.
I wish that someone had told the 30 Year Old Me that it was going to be ok. That I was ok. That it was alright to be scared and confused and insecure. I wish there had been someone that I could have been completely honest with that would have given me guidance. Actually, I had plenty of those people around, potentially, but I was too concerned about them being disappointed in me to show them the reality of the confusion I was living in. I was always fine, the kids were always great, the job was always perfect, the budget was always right in line.
I wish that someone had occasionally told the 30 Year Old Me that they were going to kick my ass. That I was important enough to risk me being pissed off by standing up to me and not letting me be stupid.
I wish that someone had told the 30 Year Old Me how to get from Point A to Points B, C, and D. That who I knew, what I knew, how I spoke, and where I was going would be shaped by whom I surrounded myself with. To expand my circle.
What happened to change the 30 Year Old Me into the woman I am now? It wasn’t accidental, and it wasn’t instantaneous. It was a series of watershed moments in relatively quick succession. Those moments are for other blogs at other times, but everyone is capable of making the changes to become the person you want to be.
What I want to tell my 30 year old daughter is that I’m trying to be the person in her life that I wish I’d had when I was the 30 Year Old Me. I want her to know that even when I’m in her face, when I’m being confrontational, I still love her and appreciate her and admire her. I want to let her know that she’s doing better at this point in her life than I was at her age. I want to tell her that she can control what happens in her life, and not just play every hand that’s dealt to her. I want to tell her that I know there’s a lot of scary confusion underneath that perfectly colored, perfectly curled, Princess head of hers.
I better hope she reads this, because Hallmark hasn’t made that card yet.