Nearly being struck by lightning this past weekend highlighted two very important things for me. First, I am happy with how I have lived my life thus far. I have no big regrets and I didn’t leave my near death experience thinking I need to go change a bunch of things about myself. So that is good. Second, I want to be here to raise my girls. It is stating the obvious but I want to see them grow up! I want to be there for them through all of their ages and stages and, should they choose to have kids, I want to meet them and be a part of their lives as well. Once the numbness of the lightning strike finally wore off, I had a breakdown realizing that possibility almost ended on Sunday. This thought was more than I could bear.
Interestingly enough, I felt compelled last week, before the lightning struck, to begin writing a post on what I want my daughters to know from me at various ages in their lives. Ideally I will be there to tell them these things myself but the third thing I learned yesterday is that it can all end very quickly at a very unsuspecting moment. This post was sitting on my hard drive as I battled it out with Mother Nature and it feels a little eery that I wrote it last week and left it unpublished until now. It seems appropriate to be posting this on September 11.
Without further ado, my advice to our kids at various ages. I plan to share this advice with them as they grow older, but if for some reason I am unable to, I hope this post will aid them through through their life journeys.
Ages 4 – 5
Respect your bedtime.
Treat others with respect.
Do not pick your nose.
Ages 6 -9
Try lots of things to find out what you like.
Continue to respect your bedtime.
Continue to treat others with respect.
Do one chore a day.
Eat no more than one helping of sugar a day.
Ages 10 – 12
Try not to rush the end of your childhood, stay a kid as long as possible.
Make friends who are good influences on you.
Start paying attention to what you really like to do and do more of it.
Respect others, including your parents and sister.
Make sure you learn about drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex but do none of them.
Try new things.
Wear sunscreen and do not lay out in the sun for the purpose of getting a tan. Use spray tan instead.
Help your parents around the house and earn an allowance.
Do your best in school.
Try playing a musical instrument.
Ages 13 – 16
Continue to do your best in school.
Study a foreign language.
Travel to a country that speaks that language.
Pay attention in history.
Write down your thoughts.
Become excellent at something you are passionate about.
Respect others including your family.
Learn how to do your makeup from a professional.
Have at least one good friend who you can trust.
Do not be tempted by drugs, alcohol or sex.
While boys might seem like they are the most important thing, they will come and go so try not to be obsessed by any one boy.
If someone is mean to you, consult your parents, a teacher and/or trusted friend about what is the best approach to take with that person. Maybe just ignore and avoid them. The most important point is to not let this person get you down. Cruelty is a sign of insecurity. If you are secure with yourself, it won’t matter what other people think of you. This is much easier said that done.
Be kind to others.
Remember every day that you are smart, beautiful and special and you have an amazing life ahead of you.
Study for the SAT.
Ages 17 – 18
If you have a boyfriend and you are doing anything more than kissing, get on birth control.
Only date boys who respect you.
As much as you may love your boyfriend, he will likely not be your husband. In fact, I discourage marrying your high school sweetheart as you will change a lot between now and your adulthood and it is difficult to not grow apart as you continue to discover yourselves.
Identify what you love to do and start thinking about professions that match with your interests and talents.
If you need to trade something off, pay more attention to college applications than schoolwork.
Do some form of exercise daily even if it is just going for a walk.
If your friends or boyfriend push you to do something you don’t want to, they are not your true friends.
Just remember, everything will change after high school so don’t get too caught up in it.
Have school spirit.
Have a job of some sort and make some money of your own, however, school should remain your primary focus.
Open a checking account and balance your checkbook.
Get a credit card, put no more than $100 on it a month and pay it off every month.
Take care of your car. Learn to change the oil yourself.
Drive well, more like a responsible adult than your fellow teenagers.
When driving, do nothing more than have a conversation with a passenger or listen to music. (do not text, talk on the phone, etc.)
Travel to Europe.
Try alcohol with your parents if it interests you.
Do not try drugs. Ever.
Do not smoke. Ever.
Ages 19 – 20
Assuming you are in college, take a unique mix of classes your freshman and sophomore years.
If you are not in college, I hope you are doing something you love that is legal.
Begin to identify what you love and choose a major that allows you to spend time doing that.
If you do not want to go to grad school, it would be wise to steer towards a major that sets you up for a career in something that you can find a job that pays decent money.
If you plan to go to grad school, pick the undergraduate degree that most interests you even if it is something unmarketable like Literature or Greek History.
Learn something new every day.
Find friends and boyfriends who are good people that you trust.
Stay on birth control (if applicable.)
If you need to lose weight, avoid fad diets. Instead simply track your calories in/out and make adjustments. If you find you are hungry all of the time, eat more protein.
Get an internship in the summer to try out various professions.
If you have the opportunity, study abroad and learn the language before you go.
Spend as much time with your girlfriends as your boyfriend.
Get an education but also have some fun! This is a unique stage of your life where you are an adult but have almost no responsibility.
Ages 21 – 22
Spend most of your time studying whatever it is you are passionate about.
Stay on birth control (if applicable.)
Do not try drugs or smoke.
If you choose to drink alcohol, do it moderately on weekend nights.
Have fun! Life gets more serious after college.
Do something that scares you.
Pay off your credit card every month. You want to start your adult life with as little debt possible.
Travel to Asia.
Consider taking time off after college before you start your job. It will be much more difficult to take a sabbatical later on.
Consider living in a big city.
Ages 23 – 30
Only marry once you are ready and when it is with a person you are in love with and respect. Ideally they are willing to cook and clean as well (this will make your life much easier.)
There is no rush to have kids. Becoming a mother is the greatest thing but is even more sweet when you are ready for it.
Travel the world if it interests you.
Find good friends who you can count on and ask for advice.
Continue to exercise and eat healthy.
Save for items before you purchase them. If you own a house, make your house payment your only debt.
Listen to your heart.
Ages 30 – 40
If you want to be a mother, have and raise your kids. This will be the single most rewarding thing you ever do. Until you have kids, you have no idea your capacity to love.
Wear mascara on your maternity leave and shower every day. It helps you feel much more put together even though nobody is there to see you.
Do what you need to do to keep a positive self image.
Smile when things get hard.
Ask for help when you need it.
Spend your precious time with those you love and respect.
Take time for yourself.
Use the good china, nice wine glasses, etc. Don’t let them just collect dust.
If you are not in a job you love, find a new job.
Do not be afraid to make changes.
Remember to give yourself a break. You do not have to do it all.
Trust your intuition.
And most importantly, always remember how much your mom and dad love you! We hope we are here to tell you this each and every day!