To Parent or not to Parent?

Before I go further to talk about what happened after I left California, I want to go back to an important topic. Having children.

I beg of you, if you decide to have kids, let them be kids! Your children were not put on this earth to pick up the slack or handle the overflow of responsibilities you chose for yourself. How is it your child’s fault that you are overwhelmed with adulting?

Can’t pay your mortgage? Not their problem and you shouldn’t take it out on them when they ask for $20 to go somewhere. Your kids need braces and you can’t afford it? Don’t let me see you with hair highlights and gel nail tips. You can’t afford medical insurance but you can afford a boat? Interesting.

My medical and dental bills as an adult have been unmanageable at times because I’ve had to address medical issues that were ignored in my youth including periodontal disease and an auto immune disease. I see 3 medical specialists for my auto immune disease that was diagnosed when I was 13 and left untreated. When I think about the hours of dental surgery I’ve endured over the last 5 years without sedation, it makes me want to throw up. I couldn’t even think about getting my teeth fixed until after I got married and that is because my husband’s insurance finally covered me. When I went in to get checked, the dentist found an infection deep in my jawline that was so bad it was considered life threatening. I had to have a 3 procedure root canal to fix that. It was painful and traumatizing.

I’d like to take this time to thank my husband for the health and dental coverage he provides for me through his job. It’s not something I take for granted! I’d also like to thank him for contributing a minimum of $8,000 over the last 5 years to restore my oral health. It was something I could never afford to do on my own. My dad would probably get offended at this (I can’t apologize, though) but I feel like health and dental insurance wasn’t as important to my dad as playing blackjack in Reno. One could assume it was too expensive but that sort of makes the whole Blackjack thing bothersome. Blackjack is really expensive if you play a couple weekends a month in Reno, right? I get a little angry when I think about the cost to me as an adult due to years of neglect when I was a child. I can only remember having my teeth cleaned twice as a kid. I’ve had a torturous dental and periodontal work and dreading 2 of 4 major gum surgeries I have left. I’ll be relieved when it’s all done.

On a side note about healthcare: if my dad and mom paid an employment tax back then that went toward a pool of funds available to cover healthcare for us, I would have been a healthier child. I certainly wouldn’t have the medical issues I do now as an adult. If they paid into a common pool, along with every other American, and we could have seen a doctor to treat my issue without unmanageable out of pocket expense, wouldn’t that have been awesome for me?? I think so.

One could make the argument that my dad should have planned better financially so my healthcare point is moot. What I say to you is this; you are right, my dad should have planned better. My argument is that I have inherited the financial burden of his bad decision which affects me financially today. It was his responsibility, he didn’t handle it so now it’s mine. Fabulous! On a broader scale, it is now more costly to the insurance companies who have to cover my medical conditions which are more advanced due to lack of treatment 28 years ago. If I was covered from the time I was born, my parents may have been more proactive with my healthcare because their tax dollars (before Reno fun money) paid to cover me. Then, I wouldn’t be dealing with the expense and aftermath of reactive treatment. Just one reason I weigh in heavily on the whole healthcare debate. It actually matters to all of us. It matters to your children and future children too.

You can’t afford daycare? Why is that your older child’s responsibility? You want to go gambling and boating every weekend? Too bad. You should have thought about that before you had children who want to learn, thrive and grow. Telling your kids they can’t play sports because you don’t want to give up your evenings and weekends is just plain selfish. I spent my early childhood with a babysitter who had 2 kids close to my age. They played baseball and soccer. I watched every practice (which my parents picked me up from directly after work) but I could not play because my parents wouldn’t make the commitment or investment. I asked several times. The answer was no. Thinking back, this might have assisted with my obesity issues. Wow, lol.

By the way, as a kid sitting in the stands at little league games listening to parents argue over league politics, I say shame on you. This is little league baseball. Quit fighting with each other and let your kids play! OMG the drama over scoring and running the snack bar. Ridiculous!

You had children. You gave them life. Your life should be about teaching them and guiding them to be the most successful person they can be. Your evening and weekend plans have now changed.

I was 11 years old and our dishwasher broke. Water flooded the kitchen and I had to use every towel in the house to clean it up. After I got yelled at for “making a mess,” I explained that the dishwasher was broken and asked my dad to call someone to come look at it. His response? “I don’t need a dishwasher, that’s what I have you for.” He wasn’t kidding and that was his mentality. Being a part of the household meant doing “my part” and that was much more than my friends parents expected of them. I noticed believe me but I never dared to make the comparison. Pointing out how unusual our situation was made him very angry and he argued that it was our reality and to deal with it. He definitely wasn’t a military man but he expected us to “soldier on!”

Give your kids chores. Teach them responsibility. Help them earn money and teach what it means to pay their way and do their part but, please, don’t make them your housekeeper, daycare provider and personal chef. Don’t put conditions on every dollar you invest in them. It will destroy their soul. There is no deeper guilt than knowing how much your school clothes cost and how hard your dad had to work to put them on your back. It’s a reality and a life lesson that can be taught without installing guilt. I didn’t ask to be born. I didn’t ask to need an education. I didn’t force my foot to outgrow my shoes he just bought 3 months ago. I had needs. Kids have needs and when you choose to create life, you choose to be responsible for another human and their needs. Having a child is a huge choice as a woman and it’s a lifelong sacrifice, especially when your partner isn’t committed. Choice is a good thing and we should use it wisely. The quality of parenting you provide sets the pace for generations to come. Babies are not just this cute, cuddly ball of love that you put cute outfits on and show off at family gatherings. They mean committing yourself. If you don’t want to commit yourself, that choice is ok too. I so often wonder how deeply people think before making that very gigantic choice.

I have always loved kids and when I was a young teen I was a baby magnet. If there was a baby in the room, I was holding them. If you asked anyone who was around me when I was young, even into my early twenties, they will tell you they are shocked that I don’t have kids. Some will tell you they think I’m still going to have kids and I just don’t know it yet. To them I say, “NO F’ing way!” Here’s the thing…

I was robbed of a traditional childhood. We were not starving, broke, beaten or homeless and we had our share of good times but it’s very safe to say that there was minimal active parenting. We were getting by in the form of a daily routine which I can safely say was survival mode. We ate, slept, went to school and he went to work. By the time I was 13, my dad left town most weekends. I was responsible for my sister and we werent allowed to have any friends over while he was gone. (I did have some kick ass parties in his absence… with live music!) Everything in between was surviving. My dad worked full time and after a work day he was agitated, tired and defeated, especially in the summer time because he physically cannot tolerate heat due to his condition. It just was a better idea not to ask for much in the evening. He wasn’t going to give it to you anyway and sometimes the wrath that followed was unbearable.

Night time teeth brushing followed by stories? No. Check my backpack for teacher notes or to see if I had homework? Not that I can remember. I better pass my classes, though! Taking me to participate in group activities like sports? No.

Dad, please sign my permission slip for school. “Remind me later.” Dad, can I go to the movies? “Do you know how many hours I have to work to afford a movie ticket?” The lecture wasn’t worth it, believe me. Keep in mind, I asked if I could go to the movies. I didn’t ask for the money.

Dad, my friend’s mom bought her 2 tickets to see Bon Jovi and she invited me, can I go? “Really? What kind of parent takes their 14 year old to a rock concert? I’m not sure that’s the right environment for a young lady. There are drugs and low life’s…blah, blah, blah…” Thanks for the judgment, oh moral one.

Irony? My dad was a huge pothead and he drove around smoking a joint or out of a small metal pipe which he always kept in the center console of his van until I was in my early 20’s. This was all the time and with the family in the car. He was always involved in buying, selling or growing pot and it wasn’t unheard of for me to come home to find him and his friends weighing out bags at the kitchen table piled a foot high with weed. This was like a normal day to me. I don’t care about that part. I’m a self-proclaimed pothead and I dare anyone to judge me for it. Judge away. I’ve never been unemployed because of it and it’s never prevented me from passing a pre-employment drug screening. Using responsibly. It’s a real thing. Wake and bake just makes for a better day 🙂

What I care about was the hypocrisy. All I heard about my whole life was to be responsible and take care of business. For him, I guess that meant selling drugs to make money? (He always had a real job too, please don’t misunderstand)

Ok,  he wouldn’t let me go to rock concerts with a friend and her mom because of the low life’s and drugs that I might be exposed to. He was quick to assume my friends mom was irresponsible because what respectable adult would take their 14 year old daughter to a Bon Jovi concert? He must have thought he sheltered me when we listened to Led Zeppelin in the car and sang the lyrics, “squeeze my lemon ‘til the juice runs down my leg.” I love me some Zeppelin but if Bon Jovi is a sin, poor Robert Plant is hell bound for sure!

By the way, my friend’s mom didn’t drink. She just liked Bon Jovi too and loved taking her daughter to concerts with a friend. She was not irresponsible or doing drugs in front of us. She wasn’t drinking and driving us home. I’m not sure what his real reasons were for saying “no” to these types of outings but I know it usually revolved around his judgment of other parenting styles and who and what I would be exposed to by attending. The truth is, that mom knew how much I struggled with weight and she taught me how to make chicken and vegetable stir fry as a healthy choice for myself that I could easily prepare at home. I grew up eating chicken fried steak, pinto beans with fried potatoes and cornbread, and biscuits and gravy. You know, all the stuff that helped me thrive and be healthy. They fed me that. She and her chicken and vegetables… they were BAAAD. I can still cook like a southern girl or a vegan vegetarian. Take your pick.

In reality, my home life had already made me numb to the concept of drugs. It was quite an experience going through the D.A.R.E. program in school and hearing them talk about the dangers of driving intoxicated and using drugs then coming home to your dad weighing out 5 lbs. of marijuana on your kitchen table. Let me clarify, in the 80’s and 90’s we were taught that marijuana was a drug so I am referring to it in a way that was appropriate for the era. It was taboo and not ok to use, possess or sell.

My dad is amazing in so many ways and as I go further into my story, you’ll learn more about how inspirational of a person he really is. During this period of his life, self-awareness was not his greatest attribute. It is because of my upbringing that I have a very low tolerance for hypocrisy and I usually can’t help myself from calling it out. My tolerance for parents who provide for their personal wants over their children’s needs is even lower. I used to think I was a big mouth for speaking up when witnessing incidents of hypocrisy. Now I’ve realized most people see more than they are brave enough to say. Me? I’m not afraid of shit! The truth is the truth. If someone can’t handle the truth, the problem lies within them.

In his desire to instill very strong values, my dad was overbearing and not open to hearing me about anything. When I made him angry, he gave me the silent treatment. Today, the silent treatment is the worst form of punishment you can give me. Giving me the silent treatment hurts me so deeply that I short circuit and make an embarrassing ass of myself because of my uncontrolled emotional response. It’s awful and I hate when it gets the best of me. The only alternative I’ve found to an emotional outburst is an angry one. It’s a really ugly side of myself and not one I am proud of. I already admitted, I’m a work in progress. I’ll get there.

It was his way or the highway. My feelings didn’t matter. My opinion was irrelevant. He actually told me my entire life that the only thing I was guaranteed in this life was food, water and a roof over my head; that everything else was a privilege. He had the mentality that anything that was in his house was his belonging. That meant anything I owned too. He took away whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted when I didn’t do the dishes to his satisfaction or got into an argument with my sister. You know, kid shit. I’m not talking about taking away the TV or radio for a week. I mean, making me strip the walls of my 80’s metal posters or decorations until my walls were blank and hiding them from me. These things were “privileges.” Nothing was ever MINE and nothing was sacred.

Perfect example; I bought my own car. It was a 1980 Buick Century Limited. It was a big green bomb of a car! This was my 3rd car in fact. I paid my own insurance (on my own insurance plan because my parents didn’t want me on their policy due to the liability as a new driver.) I paid for the fuel in my gas tank. I owned the car in full and my name was on the title. Nobody helped me buy it.

I went back home for 2 months during my couch surfing phase because my grandmother upstairs allowed me to stay in her spare room. One day my friends pulled a prank and filled my car with foam packing peanuts so when I came out and opened the door they spilled out and blew throughout the neighborhood. Of course I cleaned it up but there were pieces I could not catch. Do you know that he took my car keys away for a week because I was irresponsible for leaving my doors unlocked, allowing my friends to do that? I had to walk to school, walk to work, then walk home that whole week. School was not far but work was about 7 miles. I had a friend who gave me a ride, thankfully. Ok, let’s just put this out there. It was MY CAR! I earned every bit of it. “His” address was on the pink slip so he had a right to take it from me, according to him.

That is how I was raised. Kids were to be submissive, respect our elders, be responsible and don’t question authority. The adults could party around us and carry on with infidelity, drugs, drinking, and kicking us out of the main living area so they could watch football, get stoned and eat snacks. They would watch adult comedy then yell at us for walking through the room because we weren’t adult enough to hear it. The point is, instead of creating a family friendly environment, he carried on with his lifestyle and expected us to shut up and accommodate it.

I come from a huge football family and I HATE football and sports in general. When sports were on in my house, my dad and his cousins were screaming idiots who didn’t want us around. We could bring beer refills or nachos but we were to be seen and not heard. It makes me sad when I think about all the kids that grew up watching football with their families as a tradition and still do it as adults. That means those parents shared the experience instead of treating their kids like a nuisance. They let them be a part of watching the game instead of sending them to “go play.” It surprised me to hear my dad tell my husband about 4 months ago that he was a jerk about sports and terrible to us during football season. It doesn’t fix what happened but sometimes knowing he knows brings me some peace of mind. I don’t have any desire to catch up on what I’ve missed in the football world.

I can remember many lessons I learned in respecting authority and him as the head of household. I can remember a time when family member told me they sent me a present addressed to my dad for me. I was expecting the package so I pulled it out of the mailbox and opened it right after school. When my dad got home from work and I showed him the package, I got in trouble which always meant being grounded and things taken away. I got a lecture because the name on the package was addressed to him and he was angry that I opened it without his permission. His point was that if it was meant to be opened by me, it would have been addressed to me. Point taken. It just sucks that receiving a gift turned into a reason to get in trouble. I’m sentimental and can remember everything anyone has ever given me but in this case, I don’t remember the gift. I don’t even remember who sent it. I just remember how I felt after getting in trouble for opening a gift. That gift turned into a lecture on taking things that don’t belong to me. But… It DID belong to me. It just happened to be under his roof where kids respected authority. My husband and I were together for 5 years before I ever opened a piece of mail with his name on it and I asked for permission in that case. I don’t think he really understood until I explained it to him. I still hate opening his mail.

Get over your childhood, they say. Move on and grow up, they say. Sure, I’ll get right on that.

There is a fine line between setting boundaries for your children and being an ass. He had a master’s degree in being an ass. I remind myself of this as my skin is getting hot with fury in the middle of typing this sentence,  that we have moved past this. *Breathe*

I remind myself of the quote, “Hurt people, hurt people.”-Sandra D Wilson. At the heart of it, my dad harbored a lot of his own childhood hurt and he taught me everything his mom taught him.

He was raised by a sassy and conservative, southern woman who spent her life married to Mr. Wrong, Mr. Drunk and for periods of time she was a single mom raising kids on her waitress wages and tips. I don’t get the impression my dad had a very strong male role model. I get the impression my dad took on a lot of adult responsibilities early in his life as the oldest boy with 2 younger sisters. He took the values she taught him about “old school” manners and grace (thank you, grandma) and mixed them with every bit of dysfunction within her (there was a lot of dysfunction). She raised her children the best she could with what she had. She grew up a poor cotton farmer and spent most of her childhood in an orphanage. My dad was the product of people who struggled every day too. He lacked patience and didn’t take the time to teach us. He just expected us to step up and get it done! If we didn’t know how we better figure it out. I think that’s what he was forced to do as a kid, though too.

Ultimately, being raised by him made me fearful to speak my mind. It made me fearful to ask questions because I didn’t want to get in trouble for not knowing the answer. It made me feel like I needed permission to do anything. He made me feel inferior to men. He made me question my own instinct and train of thought which even today is nearly the same when it comes to the matter. He didn’t pay much attention to what was going on with ME but he definitely wanted to control who I talked to, where I went, etc. I don’t mean in a parental way. I mean an overbearing, judgmental and cruel way. I couldn’t breathe without permission. Up until I was 11, I got in trouble for helping myself to food in the cabinet without asking.

My mom was not completely absent so I need to give her some credit for being front and center for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday. You know, all the fun days but not the days when I needed someone to take me bra shopping or talk about my period. No, on those days she was not present. God forbid we didn’t have a huge Christmas that looked functional to everyone else. Huge flocked Christmas trees with so many presents in the room you couldn’t see the floor. Our Easter baskets were hand crafted and built around some high dollar gift (such as a Cabbage Patch Doll which were spendy back then) and she wins for giving the most thoughtful Valentine’s Day presents, hands down!

She was the opposite of my dad. He was overbearing and his opinion ruled. My mom didn’t speak up about anything. She didn’t question circumstances and just went with the flow. She would offer to pick us up here and there but by this time I was a teenager and staying with her meant spending my whole weekend at her house. She lived 30 minutes away from my friends. It was always filthy and overrun with dirty animals, especially cats. I am still NOT a cat person today. I just can’t do it.

I had no personal space at my mom’s and slept on her thrift store loveseat in the middle of the living room when I visited. She lived in a small 2 bedroom mother in law unit inside a trailer park in unincorporated San Leandro, CA off of East 14th. Later she moved to a different house, same neighborhood and still 2 bedrooms. (She moved a few times after that but I won’t go too far into that story yet) My sister had her own room at my mom’s. This is because my sister went to live with my mom before I moved out of my dad’s house. She and I did not get along well and sharing her room was never a choice. That was her space and if I wanted to sleep in it, it was under her terms. That’s a topic for a different day but I will share that she always had animosity toward me and I truly believe it’s because I could not replace my mother. I did the best I could to be there but I wasn’t her mother and she hated me for it.

In addition, it was likely my mom’s boyfriend would be visiting while I was visiting. Did I mention Mr. Wonderful was married to someone else? Did I mention that the pig took every opportunity possible to grab side boob when he hugged me or tried to be sly about “accidently” touching me inappropriately through my clothes in passing? Yea, she wasn’t hearing any bit of that. He was a saint. No, he was a disgusting pig!

My mom left my dad for this man when I was 10 and the relationship ended when I was 23. He was married the whole time and as far as I know, his marriage lasted beyond the breakup. As a little girl, it’s hard to respect your mother when you witness her in this type of relationship. Just like the men working in the warehouse assumed I was young and incapable of comprehending their banter, my mom underestimated how much I understood about her situation. If you are a single mom and you have a revolving door of men in your home, just know your daughter is watching and you are teaching her that this is how she should behave. If you have a son, you are teaching him that this is how women live so he should treat them the way these men are treating you. If you are a cheater and you’ve left your spouse to be with someone else and your kids are part of the aftermath, they will remember. If your kids tell you that the new love of your life makes their skin crawl. Please listen. They are begging you for protection!

You haven’t had a real “what the F*CK” moment in life until your mom tells you she just took care of her boyfriend’s Christmas shopping for his wife and daughter. True story, my mom used to handle this assholes holiday shopping for his family. My mom bought a diamond tennis bracelet for his wife, from him. She wrapped and put a pretty bow on it and that bastard gifted it to his wife for Christmas. No words. Just vomit. I’m mortified all over again and this is just one incident. I could write a book on gullible women who cater to married men based on this experience alone.

My mom lived in a way that always puzzled me. It was like life was happening around her and she was just along for the ride. There was no sense of urgency. There was no sense of what full time parenting was. She liked to be a part of everything fun and exciting but the day to day stuff was not her thing. What’s weird is, she wasn’t very social overall so any fun she had was with people she knew well. She was present but not very conversational, especially as she got older. She was not one to put herself out there. She worked long hours, read an unhealthy number of romance novels (2-3 in a weekend, easily) and had a rotation of TV shows. Do you know that I can’t remember a time in my life when I was sick and she sat next to my bed or held a puke bucket? It just never happened.

Why didn’t I have kids? Because during the prime age when most people were settling down with a family, I was traveling up and down the west coast trying to figure out life. I was not in a stable position to bring life into this world in my twenties and I waited until I was 36 to get married. I’m only doing it once and it was important to me to get it right. I am the only person in my family, in my generation, which did not have children out of wedlock or with multiple partners. I have made many bad choices but to me, having children is the biggest decision of your life and not something you do because everyone is having kids and you want one too. That’s just dumb. I hate when people ask me who is going to take care of me when I’m old since I didn’t have kids. OMG, I’m not in the mindset that kids were put on this earth to do my bidding, remember? Neither are yours!

The fact is, I have never been in a stable enough position as an adult to raise a child and give them everything they need and deserve. I do know what is required. I understand all about losing sleep, holding puke buckets and leaving work on time to pick up a child from daycare. I have taken on that role from a young age. I took it on again when my sister had her first baby. When he was an infant, I was there.

As a non-parent I realize it annoys people that I have an opinion on parenting. I have this opinion because I am the product of selfish people who chose to have children. Children are not suitcases that you pack up and drag along with you on your messy trip called life. Children are something you chose and they are your greatest gift. I’m only encouraging you to really treasure your greatest gift.

Am I capable of raising a child? Absolutely! The truth is that I am selfish with my time because I finally have time to be selfish with. The truth is I like to get stoned. The truth is I like to travel on weekends and stay out at bars until 2am sometimes. The truth is, I am not in a position, emotionally or financially, to be that amazing parent, so I responsibly choose to refrain. Guess what? I am not judging parents who do any of the above. I’m suggesting that I would prefer not to raise my children in an environment surrounded by the behavior I’ve described in this paragraph. Parents can do any and all of those things and it’s no big deal with babysitting coverage and providing your children a place to go that allows you the freedom to let it all hang out. I don’t want to deal with babysitting coverage and planning my life around soccer and baseball games. I’ve already given most of my life to protecting, raising or caring for someone else and put myself last in the process.  I simply don’t have enough left to give.

Please, please stop telling non parents they are going to regret it. Please stop telling non parents they just don’t understand that kind of love. It’s so rude because you don’t even understand the reasons behind their decision. People who choose not to have children usually have a very specific reason. It’s important to respect that and not assume that your white picket fence is their ultimate goal in life. I don’t want to raise another human. I want to live the rest of my life in the way I want. I deserve that.

I have 2 nephews by blood but more adopted nieces and nephews than I can count. They range from age 9-24. I am very protective over everyone’s kids and I always pay attention to who looks sad, alone or confused at home. I make myself a safe person to talk to. My rule is that any conversation with me is confidential as long as it is not life or limb or something so serious that it would be morally wrong to withhold from their parents. I have helped guide teens through pregnancy, drug addiction, gang issues and bullying and all without judgment. Kids need to be able to talk to someone about their most difficult challenges in life, not just the surface stuff. Sex and drugs is a real thing and we can’t tell them to “just say no.” You know sex is awesome and drugs can be a good time! Don’t be naïve and think they haven’t or wont figure that out too! Be realistic and guide them through it.

When the kids in my life remember me, I want them to remember FUN and being a kid. I want them to build things and play in the sunshine. I teach them anything I know if they want to learn it. We cook, we bake cookies, build gingerbread houses, and take day trips. We make pizzas and learn about wild animals. When they are with me, we live! We don’t spend much time in front of the TV or buried in an electronic device, especially in a restaurant. We engage, we play and we laugh. If I take the kids to dinner, we aren’t youtubing.

In between fun, there are basic rules. Say please and thank you. Use your manners. Clean up after yourself. If someone cooks, offer to do dishes. Hang up your towel after the shower. Hold the door for others. Be kind to one another. You know basic life skills. As long as they do their part to be a good and courteous human, I let them relax and LIVE when they are with me. Buying things for kids lasts about as long as the wrapping paper they ripped off the box. How much TIME did you spend on them this week? That $5 toy from Walgreens didn’t satisfy their soul, I promise.

I’m not a parent. I am not discounting the difficulty of parenting by any means. I am telling you as a product of parents who could have done better; if you are not treasuring these years and creating experiences, you are cheating your children. If you are more worried about having pretty hair than paying for braces, you totally suck. If you spend more time at work than you do with your family, they will get used to you being gone. Needing the money is one thing. Being a workaholic by choice is another, especially if you live comfortably and all your wants and needs are met but you can’t break away from the office until you’ve put in your 12 hours. Your kids are missing that time with you. Go home and have dinner with them instead. If you drop your kids off with your parents more than you have them in your own home, they will hold you accountable later. Kids are not dumb and everything you invest in them will come back eventually. Are you investing wisely?

If you don’t have kids and you feel a constant pressure from your peers, don’t! If procreation was taken as a serious responsibility rather than on a list of something you are supposed to do in life, I believe we would have fewer lost and neglected children in the world. Even more, we would have less angry and confused adults just trying to get through the day without hurting another person in the same way someone hurt them. Life is a cycle. Are you comfortable with your parenting decisions coming back to you? Are you setting your children up with the tools they need and building their self-esteem to survive this cruel world rather than piling on the cruelty? Gosh, I really hope so for their sake.

My choice? Be the best person I can and turn all this nasty hurt into something productive. Help people understand that a selfish choice today hurts for a long time and not just you. My choice is to help any child I can along the way, even if it means just listening to them when they think no one else will. I’m not a victim at all. I am simply well suited to help others because of all this. That’s what life is about. Learning, loving and living better than you lived yesterday. If you can help some live better along the way, that’s icing on the cake! 

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