Things I Thought Before I Knew

Things I Thought Before I Knew When I was a girl, I had expectations about being an adult. Mine were not grand dreams of being rich and famous, rather basic assumptions about adulthood. You know, grown-upy stuff.

I knew that the way my face scrunches up when I smile would leave some cracks in my skin. I was certain I would wear those laugh lines with pride, and be happy about the proof of a lifetime of happiness.

I did not know that by my mid-thirties, the deepest lines on my face would be from furrowing my brow and pursing my lips. That the most prominent marks of my emotions would be those of annoyance and disdain. Maps of irritation, rather than joy.

I knew I wanted to travel, and that I wanted a family, and I would go to college to ensure we had the money to be securely middle class.

I did not know how broke middle class could look.

I knew that important jobs paid well.

Hahahaha…nope. Hedge fund managers are riding unicorns to work while teachers are taking out loans for school supplies, and working part-time retail jobs to make ends meet. A paycheck is not a measure of worth, and noble endeavors are rarely rewarded financially.

I knew I would be a mother, and I was certain I would sometimes yell at my future children.

I did not know it would be for things like how they chew, and because they wouldn’t stop making that noise like a dying pigeon, already.

I knew other people would see my children differently than I would. That the magic of motherhood would both soften the edges of my looking glass, but also put a microscope on the humans in my care.

I did not know that sometimes I would let the incorrect judgment of others impact the way I would see my kids, or how awful it would make me feel. That, more than anything, I would want my children to be understood. For them to be seen.

I thought as an adult I would just know. Know what I wanted to do with my life, know when something was a bad choice, and know how to shake off negative influences and toxic friends.

Now I know that very few people have a clear vision and a clean path. Life is messy, and tricky, and there often isn’t one right answer. Sometimes people treat us badly, and sometimes we allow it. Our loved ones are flawed, but we are, too.

I still don’t have the answers, but for a girl who doesn’t love surprises, I am more and more comfortable with the mysteries of life. My goal is the same as my father’s before me, to “screw my kids up just a little less than my parents did me.”

Only time will tell.

28 thoughts on “Things I Thought Before I Knew

  1. Oh Amy! First can I tell you how much I love the line about hedge fund managers riding unicorns to work? As a dancer and teacher and writer and mother who has never made much money; and because at least two of those things depend on what others think, this piece really hit home for me. I never thought my adulthood would look like this, but I am trying to do the best I can, and to accept my flaws. Trying to accept that I am fine, that the path I took is okay. Thanks so much for this!

  2. Totally started bawling reading this. For so many reasons. Mostly because you nailed it. ALL OF IT. This line right here: I did not know how broke middle class could look. Times a million. Isn’t it crazy to think that we are grown-ups and yet I still feel like a kid in so many ways. Amazing post.-Ashley

  3. It’s funny how I had so many ideas on parenting…until I became a parent. Now we wing it all the time and I’m good with that. At least once a month my kids do something and the first thought that goes through my head is “what am I supposed to do about that?” It’s always an adventure when you’re a parent!

  4. OH, hits such a chord. I thought by this time I’d have adult-y furniture, not still look like an ikea warehouse. I thought I’d be staying home with the kids and packing their lunches; I am the breadwinner and I’m lucky if I see my kids in the morning. I thought I’d have all the answers as a behavior specialist; all I have are more questions.
    Love this post.

  5. How very wise you are, and how eloquently you share your wisdom with us. I so identify with this, especially about the kids. You could teach so much to many parents~

    1. Thank you, Michelle. For sharing and for your kind words. So much of what happens to me makes me think, “Huh. I didn’t see that coming.” In a good way, usually.

  6. ” Life is messy, and tricky, and there often isn’t one right answer.” #Truth!

    This is such a great post. I could go through and comment on every line, but instead I’ll tell you that I was nodding my head the entire time. <3

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