I grew up wearing hand-me-downs and eating from dollar menus, and I was often left wishing for more toys under the Christmas tree. You'd think I'd say I didn't have much -- I lived in a trailer home, I shopped at thrift stores and my family survived off food stamps. But the truth is different.
I was miserable for the first 10 days of my child's life. Breastfeeding was hard, but you were supposed to see it through, you shouldn't give up. It would get easier. It would become natural. On Avery's eleventh morning, she had a meltdown after I nursed her for two straight hours.
Motherhood is humbling. I think my experience has been compounded by the fact that I did not become a mom until I was 35 years old. I thought I had learned most of the more important lessons on management, but attempting to "manage" my three sons has taught me a lot.
If my dad has to pee, he will walk into any building anywhere and use their bathroom. If I run a 5K while my dad is in town visiting, he will join me in the "runners only" beer tent and enjoy free beer while wearing a sweater vest. My dad does not think it is inappropriate for him to be anywhere.
"Daddy," he said, turning toward me, the palms of his not-yet 3-year-old hands up, arms spread. "I really need a fish in my life." He squinted his eyes, the wrinkles in his sun-kissed face pressed for an appeal.
Without the confidence she exemplified, I would not have learned the significance of loving myself, and in turn, teaching my daughter to love herself, too. Through my mom, I learned loving yourself is the beginning of all victories.
It was the late '70s when my dad first showed me those boxes of Lionel trains being stored in the basement behind the furnace. These trains belonged to my father and my uncle when they were kids. These trains meant everything to them. My dad told me these trains were now mine.
As I turn the corner in our neighborhood, I catch sight of my pink and purple Rainbow Loom bracelet against the steering wheel; it is one of the first Zoe made. It stays on my right hand as a reminder not to underestimate my girl, and all she has taught us along the way.
My husband's been after me for years to share some of the notes I took as our daughter grew up. On my first pass through them, we savored those highlights together a few evenings a week. Now that Katie's in college, I'm sharing some of them on Twitter.
My child would not have learned this empathetic response if I had remained a yeller. Because yelling shuts down the communication; it severs the bond; it causes people to separate -- instead of come closer.