Growing Up Backwards

It seems like I set out in this life to do things my own way and in my own time - no matter what was wise or prudent or tried, tested and true. And, regardless of the advice I give my own daughters, I continue to 'grow up backwards.'

To my daughters I say things like:

"You have all the time in the world, enjoy now, figure out what you want and who you are before you begin to think about starting a family."

"Take your time - get into a relationship because you WANT to, not because you feel you NEED to."

"Listen to your gut, your 'inner bell'. Do what makes you feel full of life and secure in the knowledge that you're where you need to be at this moment."

"Don't look for a man to complete you - look for a man to complement you."

"Learn how to make yourself happy - never expect another human being to take on that responsibility."

And, I'm right, I know I am - doesn't every mom know that?

Thing is, it took me two marriages (and subsequent divorces), six kids and living as a single mom for five years to learn those lessons. Most kids (at least when I was a teen) grew up, graduated high school, went to college, dated, had fun, and THEN settled down to have a family.

They gave themselves a chance to spread their wings and find out who they were and what they wanted before they allowed their wings to be clipped by marriage and parenthood.

Not me.

I got married at 17, first child at 18. Now, at age 40, I have six children ranging in ages from almost 22 to 12 and am in my sixth year of 'independence.'

I have finally learned the lessons I'm trying to teach my own children. I know my words are true because I'm living both the results of learning their wisdom and the results of ignoring it. I did it backwards. So I know what it's like from both perspectives.

I know that my own happiness is dependent upon me - no one else. When you burden another human being with the responsibility for your own happiness, you're setting them up for failure and yourself up for pain.

I've learned that when you look to someone to complete you, you drain their very being. Most folks have enough problems dealing with themselves - their own dreams and fears and flaws and responsibilities. When you find someone to complement you - then you can find out what real friendship is, what real unconditional love is - what real peace is.

I've learned that I don't need a man. Sure, there's a lot I miss. I miss the hugs, the laughs, the strength, the partnership, the feeling that I'm not always in this 'all alone'. And it's ok to miss those things. But I don't NEED one. Someday I will probably want another relationship. But I don't have to have one now - because I'm finally learning who I am and what I'm capable of - and it's much more than I ever gave myself credit for. And that is super cool.

I know that I've lived the majority of my 40 years for someone else - a parent, a husband, a child - and that's ok - it taught me, molded me, strengthened me. I wouldn't change the pattern of my life if I could. But when you finally figure out who you are - and further, figure out that you LIKE who you are, the difference in the level of chaos inside is absolutely astounding.

I am me, I like me, there's things I am working to change and there's things that I'm very proud of - but no matter what, I like me - no matter WHAT someone else thinks or says.

That is the ultimate freedom - and one you can't teach your children - they just have to learn it - maybe backwards. And that's ok, too.

Dee is a Certified Aromatherapist, Certified Reflexologist, and Reiki Master. Her site is" target="_new"> - a source of quality aromatherapy, herbal and reflexology information and products.


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