Dear 18 Year Old Self,
I am you, only older and wiser. I know you are about to embark on a whole new life, what with being knocked up and all. I feel it is my duty to tell you a few things. First and for most, you are an idiot. You should be SO much more afraid of parenting than you are. Lots of women birth children, so being worried only about labor at the juncture is not just idiotic but scary. Parenting is so much more than delivering a baby. A bum on the street with a 7th-grade education could help pull that kid out of you. You need to be researching and reading and learning about being the greatest influence on this child. Instead of reading Cosmo start reading Parenting Magazine. And don’t just buy it so when people come over you look like you are reading about parenting, actually read the damn thing.
Try to evaluate your surroundings, dear child. You are pregnant with a high school education, barely, and you are living on the futon in a living room of a two bedroom apartment that 4 adults are in. Not the best situation for a baby. Soon you are going to go live with a set of grandparents, this is a better situation but still not grand. If you are big enough girl to have a baby you should start figuring out how to support it and you on your own. You have this irrational idea that the world owes you something because you are pregnant. Your lack of prophylaxis is not anyone’s fault but your own. Deal with it, and grow up. And I do mean GROW UP. Start thinking like a parent. This baby is a living human being and her actions will be a direct result of your parenting. You are going to fuck this up. We both know it, but you have a chance to make it right. To do it right. Do that. Do not listen to all the advice of others. Your nature instincts will not serve you wrong it you listen to it. Have confidence in yourself. Have faith that your own ability as a parent will prevail if you allow it. You have a lot of people who think they know better than you. Some don’t mean to be harmful but they have about as much sense as the dried bird shit on my windshield right now.
We both know this marriage isn’t going to work out, but it doesn’t have to be a horror show. Try to be compassionate, and work things out in a way that allows co-parenting to happen and fosters a good relationship with everyone. Ok- I literally just laughed at myself. Try not to be a complete asshole. Things are not going to be easy. Try to remember that being right is not always a good thing, or necessary. The child you are carrying now is going to give you a run for your money. She is going to get in a bad scene that changes who you are as a person, which turns you into me. Maybe if you learn from some of our mistakes now, this child will have chance at a better life. 18 years from right now you will find out she is a heroin addict. You are going to find yourself sitting in the emergency room, holding her hand while she nods out and a pompous older woman sitting to seats over pulls her purse tighter, and purses her lips in disgust as I dare her to make eye contact with me starring at her face until she notices me. At which point you give her the finger, and when she looks away, you wipe the lone tear that leaks out of the corner of your eye. Yes, I said you cry. I know you find that hard to believe me you, this will be a very tearful full years. There is no way I can prepare you for it, and you wouldn’t listen anyway. The only thing I can hope for is that you are more intuitive to things happening around you.
Something that’s you should know are: reading her the Basic Text while she is high, is not going to make her want to stop using. She isn’t listening to you anyway, and she doesn’t even remember most of those nights. The security guard that you think is judging you, is not judging you, he is pitying you, and in my opinion that’s even worse. Pitiful is what she looks like when she is this sick. Pitiful is what brings you to your knees. Pitiful is what makes you beg the higher power of any religion you can think of to take away whatever pain has made her run to heroin to begin with. They will ignore you. There is only her higher power that can help her find the way to life without drugs. You can’t love her enough, or fight for her enough, beg her enough, bargain with some unseen prophet of clean-time enough. There is no enough. You will torture yourself trying to right the wrong that made this happen. And you will be mistaken to do so. You are going to be heartbroken and distressed and those things make people act irrationally. You are going to isolate, segregate, and alienate everyone that you should be reaching out too. Don’t do this. Eh… go ahead and do it anyway. When the dust settles you will feel connected to those around you. Sometimes tragedy cuts the grass of friendships if you catch my drift.
Be a good mother now. You can’t make up for lost time. If you spend too much time focusing on things that are not important, you will regret it. People will judge you for what you drive, how clean your house is, what you and the kids wear no matter how hard you try so don’t. Focus on carving pumpkins, picnics, going to the beach, loving each other. It is the good times in life that are the bridge of support through the stormy times. You need those things to be able to survive. Life is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a marathon on steroids. I know there are going to be times when you are tired and broke and watching all your friends’ party like rock stars while you change diapers dreaming of the day your kids are older, but you will not enjoy your kids being older as much as you enjoy them now. You will miss when they crawl in your lap looking for loves. When they lay in bed with you absentmindedly twirling your hair in their fingers. You will long for the days when you could hear the high pitched giggling and screeches when they are supposed to be in bed. Those days will go by so fast, if you blink you will miss it, so don’t waste one single second of that.
And one last thing, I forgive you for not listening to anything I just said.