Strategy for Raising an Adult (hopefully)

butterflyI worry a lot. I worry about the environment, melting polar ice caps, draughts, and no food. I worry about getting mangled by any number of things; public transportation, taxis, crazy cyclists, whacked-out lunatics on meth, drivers from the suburbs who don’t know what pedestrians are, just to name a few. I worry that my little girl, who is not so little anymore, will somehow go astray and I will have to watch her fade away into a shell of her former self, all of her potential gone because there are some bad decisions no one can recover from.

What if I don’t prepare her well enough? What if I’m too strict? What if I’m not strict enough (unlikely in my case because I am the “meanest mom in the universe“). What if I fall short and run out of patience? What if I didn’t set a good enough example? Because I can assure you, when you become a mom, all of your shortcomings become painfully obvious and then you have to be a blatant hypocrite.

I am a social person. It’s hard to get out when I have such a strict schedule to adhere to. With so much work to do, there are very few social lunches and evenings and weekends are always packed with mundane tasks. It’s sort of depressing, although I love my job and life. So, every now and then, when I do get to have a nice chat with someone who is very interesting, it’s really rejuvenating.

I had recently read this article, “Welcome to Hell: Philadelphia Has a Serious Case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” because someone at work has done work in high risk areas here in the city and I recently spoke with another person from work about some of the more troubled areas of the city, the violence, the drugs, the hopelessness, and what makes people turn to drugs, which seem to be the gateway to all sorts of problems.

He said that it comes down to pain; emotional and physical. People self-medicate to ease their suffering. And the drugs work, quickly. If all drug use was monitored and regulated, there might not be as many issues, especially if the high profit margin for illegal sales was removed from the equation. Maybe it isn’t so much the drugs themselves, after all, pretty much anything can be abused – Benedryll, Tylenol, Rediwhip… Maybe it’s that no one is solving the underlying problem. Why do people go to such lengths to avoid pain?

I have no idea.

I do know why I didn’t try to self-medicate, although it would have been completely understandable considering. When I was going up, I was taught that life is not fair. To some degree, you just need to accept it. You work very hard to avoid obvious issues, like sticking to a budget to avoid financial issues or wearing your seat belt to avoid death in an accident. Even so, there will always be something crappy just waiting around the corner. It is unrealistic to expect life to be 100% butterflies and kittens and ice cream. Life will suck, you will hurt, and you will be sad.

I refuse to let that be the end of it because I’m stubborn like that, so, my philosophy has always been that challenges build character. Pain builds tolerance. Sadness makes the happiness that much better. Resistance builds strength. Courage from frightening experiences. You want to be strong, and courageous, and optimistic? You have to work for it. Embrace the short straw in life, because without it you can’t be these things. Use the pain as motivation to rise above.

Which brings me to the Pumpkin. We do not paint a rosy picture. We tell her life is not fair. She will be sad, so that she can enjoy happiness more. Things will be tough but she will be stronger for it. She will fail, but can learn from it and become smarter. Face challenges; they will make her better. Don’t give up, keep working at it, and every time will get closer to what she wants. Opportunity will not happen unless she fights for it. And, we will help her every step of the way.

Hopefully, she will not be shocked by the difficulty of life and will understand that you can only value something you work very hard for. When things get hard, hopefully she will embrace the challenges and not look to the quickest solution. Thankfully she has us and a wide circle of people who care for her and support her. My heart goes out to the kids who are navigating through all this alone…

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