Challenge Day 05: Something you hope to do in your life
There are so many things that I still hope to do in my life; so many places that I still want to see, people that I still want to meet, goals that I still want to accomplish, and dreams that I still want to dream; that it makes it a little difficult to focus on just one. That’s the thing about these challenges though; they are designed to make you think, and if you’re like me, introspection almost always leads to discovery. Self discovery is good.
I’ll be honest, when I first looked at this list of challenges I thought, ‘hmm… easy post prompts. This should help me meet my goal of a post a day minimum without taking up too much of my time.’ I was, as I often am, wrong. Each prompt has ended up being the recurring theme of my day’s thoughts. A few of them took me most of the day to even answer since I am striving with them to find the balance between honesty (with myself and with my readers) and over sharing. This is a fine line that I have never walked with much grace. Still, today’s prompt is easier then a few I’ve already faced, and much easier than some of them still to come I imagine, so let’s just get to it.
The most important thing that I have left to do with my life is in regards to my girls. (For those of you just joining in, I have two of them – 11 years and 22 months – and though I don’t typically like to talk too much about my family online, I cannot answer this question honestly without doing so now.) Now my girls are my pride and joy and I couldn’t possibly love them anymore than I already do. Obviously, it is my job in life to make sure they get all of their basic needs met, but my responsibility goes a lot further than making sure they have clothes and food and shelter. While the answer to this question is encompassed in the overall bubble of making sure I do a good job in raising them, I want to focus on just one little piece of that job; ensuring that they, specifically as girls, have all the tools they’ll need to face the world around them.
Yes, I am a woman grown now, but I was a girl. I was a little girl, I was a teenage girl and I was a young lady trying to find her footing in the world… all three of these stages came with challenges and varying degrees of difficulty. My own parents neglected to supply me with the appropriate tools of survival and because of their shortcomings as guardians, I had to figure everything out the hard way. This would have been complicated enough had I been born average to begin with, but I have never been anything remotely like average. I am an extremely sensitive person – I feel actual pain when I see pain around me, even when it is not inflicted upon me. I feel things so deeply that there have been more than a few times in my life that I thought the weight of that awareness might crush me. In fact, it nearly did. Couple this with the fact that I am (as discussed earlier) a very emotionally driven person (i.e. I have a tendency to act on my emotions without giving my mind the opportunity to reason me out of my impulses) and then throw in the facts that I was born into less then ideal circumstances, and that I was not born tough. I had no natural armour, I was just all hugs and love and trust and impetuousness. And I was a girl. The world can be a very, very difficult place for anyone, let alone a little girl who wears her heart on her sleeve and trusts blindly in the kindness of others.
Now when it comes to my girls, each of them appears to have taken a different side of my personality. The oldest is incredibly emotional; she feels everything in the world and is often staggered by the injustices she sees around her; she has a huge heart and is always reaching out to help others in whatever way she can. My youngest – while I’m still just getting to know her personality now – appears to have taken my impulsive side; she’s afraid of nothing, she doesn’t seem to feel pain and she’s a little on the crazy side at times… some of these are things I didn’t even discover about myself until I was older, so it’s quite curious to watch this part of my personality manifesting in such a young child.
Two girls, two very separate personalities; this could prove difficult as the years go on, but at least (for now) I’m content to see that neither of them have both of these traits rolled into one – that would most definitely be worse.
I look around at the other parents I know in the really real world, and it is quite obvious that I have chosen a very different method of parenting. Only time will prove if my way was superior or not, and there is every possibility that I am deluding myself into thinking there’s a chance that I won’t screw up my kids like parents around the globe seem eternally fated to do.
My method is to stay honest with my girls – more so with my eldest, obviously – while keeping in touch with the little girl still inside of myself –always remembering where I was at their age, the situations I was faced with and the pressures I felt at the time. I think it’s a lot tougher to be a kid then most parents are willing to remember, and I never want to be one of those parents. I encourage them – again, mostly my eldest – to always stand up for themselves, their feelings and their beliefs, to choose strong female role models (which in today’s ‘Paris Hilton-Britney Spears-and-what-the-hell-is-a-Snookie?’ society can be very difficult) and daily remind them of the fact that in this life, the only person they have to live with forever is themselves. Basically stated; don’t let yourself be forced into anything you’re not 100% comfortable with, don’t be a follower, don’t idolize women who clearly don’t respect themselves, and be willing to live with your choices because at the end of the day, you’re the only one that has to be happy with them. My goal with these lessons is to ensure that they are strong enough mentally and emotionally to face the world on their own, but we’ve also recently begin delving into a more physical sense of self-defence – just for those moments in time when circumstance tries to steal a woman’s power away from her. And all of this I try to keep delicately balanced with maintaining as much of their innocence as possible, which is yet another very fine line to walk.
Though I’m not about to go up to my kids and start telling them all the wonderful stories about my own screw ups in life, or about every negative experience I’ve ever had, when a subject is broached – even when I am not entirely comfortable discussing it – I strive for complete (appropriate) honesty. We’ll sit and have a long conversation about whatever the topic du jour may be, I’ll offer my own life experiences and sometimes even ask how they might have dealt with the situation differently. I want them to always be able to see how our choices define us and perhaps be inspired to think things through a little more thoroughly then they would’ve otherwise.
Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing a good job as a parent? I have no idea, but I am doing what I feel is right. Will this stop them from having their feelings hurt or their hearts broken? Of course not – that is a right of passage that all of us has to face at some point or another, but if I do my job right, perhaps my girls will know how to pick up the pieces and move on in healthier ways than I ever did. Will this stop them from making mistakes? Hell no, that too is a right of passage, but if they truly believe that they don’t have to answer to anyone in this world but themselves, maybe – just maybe – they can lessen the extremity of their mistakes since they will never live to please another person more than themselves… and really, that’s what I think it all comes down to for each of us.