I’m not a great conversationalist but I’m definitely a better communicator when I’m conversational.
The other day, I sat in on a conversation with a woman in her mid-30s.
She had a baby in February.
My first thought was, What?
This was in 2014.
And I thought, Wow.
I can’t believe I’m sitting here.
So I started asking her about her family history.
Her daughter died when she was six.
“You know what?
I’m glad you’ve got a baby now.
It’s kind of tough to see her when she’s not around.
But she was very loving.
There were some days I thought it was her fault,” she said.
Then I started wondering about the rest of my life.
I had just graduated from college, she said, and I had just turned 30.
This is my first baby and I’ve been trying to think about what the rest, how long I’m going to have kids, where I’m at in life, what’s my career plan going to be.
After a while, I realized I could just ask her how many children she’s had.
She said she’s having five.
That was really nice.
But it wasn’t the most useful answer.
You can’t really tell what her answer was going to become.
“I was just thinking, Well, she’s never been pregnant before,” she explained.
We talked about it for a minute.
Then we both started laughing.
At that point, I was so shocked.
It was really hard for me to believe.
For me, I’ve always had an image of my daughter as a tomboy and a princess.
In reality, she is a tombow and she’s a princess and a great person.
With all due respect, the truth is that I’ve never been a good parent.
I don’t think I’ve ever been a great parent.
When I was a child, my mom would come home from work with a bag of groceries and say, What’s in that bag?
She was not a good mom.
Now, I’m a good father, I say.
I’ve made lots of sacrifices for my kids.
What’s your life like now?
I have a lot of friends.
I have a girlfriend who is a nurse.
I work part time.
I don’t have a full-time job.
I do freelance writing.
And I have two young boys.
My son is six and my daughter is six.
My son was born two months early.
I’m having trouble making ends meet.
I was living on welfare for five years.
They’re getting ready to leave for college.
I had a really hard time finding an apartment.
I got a job working with a construction company that was paying $20 an hour and I was taking $300 a month.
On top of that, I had to pay off my credit card debt.
I owe a lot.
If I’m lucky, I might still be able to get by.
How do you deal with stress?
I just try to stay calm, I said.
I can tell when I have stress.
I can see it.
One of the biggest things that comes to my mind is that my daughter and my son, my daughter, I have this huge responsibility for them.
It makes me really nervous when I see them.
I always tell them, Be patient, stay focused on your kids, and keep your eyes open.
Did your kids ever bully you?
I never thought so.
I think they were really kind to me and their dad, too.
Do you think there’s anything you’d like to change about your life?
I just think I’d like for them to grow up knowing that there’s nothing that’s going to make them less of a person.
What are your biggest struggles as a parent?
When I first started having children, I thought I’d be a mom for life.
Eventually, I ended up becoming a stay-at-home mom.
I worked all day and went to school all night, which was fine.
But as soon as I had kids, I didn’t know how to be a mother.
People would ask me how I could be a stay at home mom.
I was like, I can’t be a parent because I can no longer be a person, I told them.
I thought, I need to change.
Like many of my peers, I went into the workforce and worked at a restaurant.
I took my kids to Disney World.
Once I realized how many hours I had, I started to realize I was just not a very good parent because my kids were always pushing me around and acting like they wanted to