There are some things I want you to know and try to understand before you head out into the world you think you know. You won’t always take the easy path, you won’t always be liked, you will get your feelings hurt, and life is harder than what you’ve been told. No one will prepare you for the real world. Looking back, I can’t believe I went into the adult life with a baby on my hip and no idea how to balance a checkbook. The only things you know about adulting are fantasies you’ve created in your head based on hope- not fact. Oh Stacey, Stacey, Stacey. You are in for a reality check sister.
Your 10 year plan in your Senior book will include: getting married to your high school boyfriend, having 6 kids and working for the FBI.
You’ve had a boyfriend ever since you can remember and for some reason they’re all so serious. You never just date. This will come back to haunt you, so slow down. Your senior year, you and your best group of friends are going to have a picture taken together but you’ll want to skip it because you and your boyfriend are fighting and all you care about is him. Take the picture with your friends. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Trust me.
You do well in school, fairly popular (given there’s roughly 70 kids in your senior class), and you play volleyball and run track. You haven’t taken much seriously to this point and soon you’ll tell your volleyball coach that you couldn’t come to practice because you had a dentist appointment. She finds out you’re lying, calls you out and puts you on the JV squad. Out of pride, you’ll want to quit- don’t. This could be your first lesson in taking responsibility for your actions but it won’t be, if you quit the team like I did.
I know, right now, you think you and your boyfriend will be together for ever. You won’t. I know you think that you’re going to get your own place and it’ll be cute and super fun. It won’t be. You’re going to move to Scott street and realize you made a mistake when a lady gets shot that lives about 6 houses down from you. But it’s yours and your roommates are ok. It has to be better than being 18 and living at home, right?!? No. Stop it.
Fast forward to marriage and babies. Everything you see will tell you that having kids is cute and wonderful. And it is, at times. But it’s a freaking job raising little humans. It’s tiring, expensive and a job. They are the first people you love unconditionally and you will scratch somebody’s fucking eyes out if they hurt your babies. They don’t call us mama bears for nothin’. But it’s hard. You’re disorganized, your car will be a disaster and so will your house. It’s ok. So is everyone else’s. They just make you believe it’s not. Don’t make anyone make you feel like you’re not doing a good job because you are. At times, your best won’t be good enough but it’ll still be your best. Your kids are happy and you are being the best mom you know how. You’ll grow and learn from mistakes- even though it’ll take a few times to learn every now and then. When your kids get older, they’ll tell you you’re the best mom in the world. Believe them.
Marriage. Geez. It is not a lovey, dovey, constant cuddle. Your husband is not going to lay his coat across a mud puddle. He isn’t going to carry you either. If it’s raining-he’s going to run to the car just as fast as your are. In rain, it’s every man for himself. There will rarely be breakfasts in bed. It’s not entirely a myth but it’s pretty close. Your husband will not just get up and help you clean, you’ll want to stomp around and let him know you’re pissed. Don’t. I’ve learned all you really have to do is- ask for help. And lastly, the Unicorn of all myths: Your husband isn’t always going to console you or “understand” you when you’re upset. More than likely he won’t get why you’re so upset and he most likely isn’t going to care enough to “talk about it”. He’s afraid of your emotions and how in some way, whatever you’re feeling is going to require him to take the blame. Whether the tears are about him or someone else, it’s going make him uncomfortable. Don’t take it personal. It’s not just your husband, it’s the way God made man. Marriage is not what you see in movies. Its not The Notebook. Most men aren’t going to follow you around begging for a date and then wait 10 years for you. Just because your husband doesn’t do or rarely does any of these things does not make him inadequate. It’s just not reality. Get a grip Stac. You’re no prize all the time either.
I can tell you what marriage IS. Marriage is making some else coffee, or arguing over cholesterol, making fun of each other and at times not speaking for a few days. You’ll live alot of years believing that when you fight with your spouse, it’s critical every time, all or nothing. It’s not. You’ll learn this with Robert. You’ll both have reasons to quit on each other but you won’t because you’ve learned it’s worth it to stay and work on things. You’ll both be stubborn and steadfast but eventually you’ll come to understand that there is a way to solve things other than divorce. Divorce. It’s an easy word to throw around and once it’s said- it sticks. Even when you make up, it hurts. Don’t say it.
Marriage will never be the fairytale you think it is. It can be better than that- because it’s yours. You may not get butterflies when you see your husband but you will be happy when he gets home. He may not bring you breakfast in bed but he will take you out to breakfast. And it’s ok to ask him to take you! Don’t sulk because he doesn’t come up with great, romantic ideas for a getaway- it’s probably going to fall to you to make the arrangements 1) Because men are easy and just want you to be happy and 2) You really want to make the decisions anyway. *shrugs* He may not put his coat over the puddle but he will drop you off at the door or bring the car up to get you. Sometimes you might have to say “Dude. Go get the car!” But he’ll get the car so you can stay dry. It’s still sweet and charming- just in different form than what you’ve read in books. He may get on your nerves but he’s yours and he loves you even though you can be a crazypants. Please let go of what you think marriage should be and let your marriage be what it really is. Because that’s where the good stuff is.
Be easy on yourself. You will do the best you can. You’ll have regrets, no doubt, but you’ll realize when you’re older that you are bold enough to try new things, old enough speak your mind and you’ll be the most honest version of yourself you’ve ever been. You will learn through mistakes and failures. Most things are only learned through personal experience, the human eog’s fault, I suppose. We think we can do it better or differently than the advice we’ve been given to avoid the pitfalls in life. You won’t listen, although you should have at times.
Forgive yourself. I mean, you didn’t kill anybody but you’ve definitely messed things up at times. (whispers* I won’t tell your secrets) Then- forgive everyone else. Girl, if you keep holding onto everything everyone has ever said about you or any time someone’s done you wrong- you’ll waste a lot of life. Let it go. It’s really that easy. Just.Let.Go. Once you really let go of the past, it’s freeing. It’s starting over with yourself and making yourself happy. Don’t put that responsibility on someone else. It is up to YOU to handle your happiness or lack thereof. If you count on other people to make you happy, you will constantly be disappointed. It’s no one else’s job to give you joy, except you & God. Learn to love yourself, do things that make you happy and start by being kind to others. It’s amazing what happens to you on the inside when you just let go of hurt and pain and are genuinely kind to other people. It builds joy in your heart. You will learn to embrace your faults and… own them! There’s a certain level of happiness that comes with being able to make fun of yourself about the things you used to feel self conscious about. Don’t let other people have that kind of power over the value of your life. I wish you wouldn’t wait until you were 40 before you learned his secret- but you learned it and that’s what matters.
Lastly, your friends matter. You won’t be BFF’s with your high school friends but you will remain in touch (mostly through Facebook). You will go through a period of feeling like you don’t have any friends or not in the same place in your lives and it’ll hurt. It’s ok. It’s normal growing pains. You’ll meet new people at a job, you’ll meet new friends through old friends and become close with a group of awesome women. This core group of women you have in your squad are freaking awesome! All of them different in so many different ways but each of them are powerful, strong, smart, generous and encouraging. Women that are good to other women. That’s your tribe.