10/21/2014 01:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Lessons for my Daughter on Life and Love

Jonathan Kitchen via Getty Images

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day my daughter's father told me it was over. I have grown so much in the past year, not in spite of this loss but because of it.  I have grown as a woman, as a friend and perhaps, most importantly, as a mother. As a mother, I have to watch my words and my actions more closely than I ever have in the past. Because, one day, my daughter will be old enough to find those words on the Internet. And the message that is sent to her is so much more important than who was right or wrong or who gets the last word. To me, it has always been about what's best for her, no matter how difficult that may be sometimes. There are so many lessons that I have learned over the past year that I hope to pass along to my daughter and to keep her from learning them the hard way as much as I possibly can.  What would you add to the list?

1. Don't make snap judgements of people, but do pay attention to red flags. Your "gut" is almost always right. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2. No one will ever be perfect. Neither are you. And people will make mistakes. Find someone willing to admit their mistakes and, most importantly, learn from them. Find someone willing to say "I'm sorry" and mean it from the bottom of their heart. Find someone who is aware of their flaws and can laugh at themselves. Always find laughter.

3. Find someone who understands the value of hard work and takes pride in their work but will always value family first.

4. Fight back when it's important to you. Girls are raised to be nice and not argumentative or combative. If you don't respect yourself, your wishes, your beliefs, no one else will either. When something truly matters to you, fight for it. Someone who truly loves you will respect you for that.

5. Never compromise yourself for anyone. Anyone who truly loves you will never ask you to.

6. We are all a constant work in progress. There is always room for growth and improvement and we are all changing every day. From our tastes in music to our ways of communicating.  The man you fall in love with today will not exist in exactly the same way tomorrow or five or ten years from now.  Fall in love with someone for their heart and their soul and find someone who loves those core values in you as well.  Our hearts do not change even if our hair falls out and we gain fifty pounds.

7. Find someone who stands by you in public no matter what. There will always be disagreements but it's important to maintain a united front and stick by one another.

8. Find someone who values your dreams as much as their own.

9. Find someone who treats you as their equal partner; who includes you in business decisions, home decisions, anything that impacts you as well as themselves.

10. Pregnancy and childbirth is the most rewarding but difficult part of being a woman.  Find someone who respects this miracle for what it is and respects the strain it places on you.  Find someone who will rub your feet without you asking, who will never question your hormonal anger or tears, who leaves your food alone and gets you whatever you ask for.  You want your pillow from home at the hospital?  He'll bring back three.

11. Find someone who believes that a smile on your face is more important than if there are dishes in the sink when he gets home.

12. Watch how a man talks to his mother. That's how he will talk to you one day, too.

13. No matter how close you think you are to his mom, she will always take his side when it comes down to it. That's her son, after all.

14. A man's actions mean more than his words. If a man breaks his word to you once, he will do it again.

15. Never make a major life decision like moving in together, having children or getting married until you've had your first major fight.  It will happen.  And how you both get through that experience will teach you so much more about your relationship and your future together then the good times.

16.  No one takes selfies of their hard times. Every couple has them. There will be days where one, or both, of you will want to give up; you'll want to pack your bags and never look back.  Always look at the bigger picture.

17. The kitchen is the heart of the home. Find someone who will loves to cook with you.  And dance with you in the kitchen.

18. No matter how much you love someone, always love yourself more. Don't ever let anyone make you question your value. That isn't love.

19. Be cautious not to take people for granted and know that what you think you need to make you happy may be entirely wrong.  Don't let someone  who truly loves you slip through your fingers because they don't meet all of the qualifications on your checklist.  Remember to always look at the heart and soul.

20. Life truly isn't always fair. Being a good and loving person who truly deserves happiness and love doesn't mean life is going to hand it to you on a silver platter.  You will get your heart broken.  But never give up hope. Never stop believing. And I will always love you no matter what.

From the author's blog, Journey to Mommyville