- How adored she is. This is the most important thing for her to not just know, but feel in her heart. We will always love her unconditionally and she will always be the center of our universe. Our lives are better and hold more meaning because of her. There is nothing she can do to lessen the love we have for her.
- How to be kind to animals. People who don't have empathy for animals just aren't good people in my book. We love dogs and hope that she will too. She already seems very interested in Trevi and pets her whenever she can reach her. By the time she is 10, Trevi will be 13 years old and we will have other dogs, too. I hope she will have the same enjoyment in caring for them as I did when I was a child. Nathan wants to start a family lineage dog. He plans to get one male dog of a certain breed (we are not sure of the breed just yet) and then a few years later, a female. He wants to breed them a few years after that, and keep one of the male puppies. And when that puppy is older, breed him again so that we have grandpuppies from our original dog. I know breeding is frowned upon and not good for our animal population, but at least one of these dogs will be a rescue, and Trevi is a rescue as well.
- The harm of drugs, and alcohol. Here is this precious, pure little body that I am planning to feed healthy, organic food to and the thought of her putting substances in her that could cause her harm, not just physically but also by lowering her inhibitions or morals, terrifies me. It doesn't help that I'm a middle school counselor. While I must break confidentiality if a student tells me anything that will cause harm to themselves or others, many still share with me things they don't tell their parents. I worry about how rampant marijuana is now, and know of students who have a prescription for it. It's of a much higher concentration than it ever was in the 60's, and has tripled in potency over the last two decades. I've also heard that heroin in pill form is an increasing problem in Orange County. We need to begin our conversations with her about the dangers of drugs while she is little, and not wait until she is a teenager and possibly exposed to it. I also want her to know that there is a reason that the drinking age is 21, and do not want her drinking before then. I remember being 18 and hearing my peers talking about how it wasn't right or fair that we were legal adults and could die for our country, but "the government" didn't want us to even drink a beer. Yea, that's true! I thought. But I want Autumn to be smarter and to have the knowledge that her brain is still not done developing at 18, and that alcohol use, especially binge drinking which most teenagers do, can cause permanent damage to her brain. It also can set up a pattern of addiction and put her in compromising situations.
- A passion for travel. She will have a passport next month, and her first trip overseas this summer when we go to eastern Europe for three weeks. We are also planning Venice, Italy February of 2017. We will then take a break for a few years on international trips, but hope that even when she is in high school we can take her and a friend places. I dream of a girl's week in Paris or London with her, and hope she will continue to travel with us into her adulthood, and after we are gone. I want her to know that her grandmother traveled the world before she was married, even finding herself lost in the desert on a camel in Egypt. As it turns out, she was not really lost but the group she was with was playing a joke on her. I want her to know that her Nana spent summers in Ireland, and that she moved to a different country (America) when she was married at 18.
- Empathy for those that are less fortunate than us. This can include those that are less fortunate in health, be it mental, physical or emotional, those who are financially less fortunate, or those that are social outcasts and picked on. I hope that she will have enough self-confidence to stick up for those who may not have as strong of a voice, and that she will feel compelled to help not condemn. She has family members with special needs and hope that our love and acceptance of them will serve as a guide. I also plan to volunteer with her, even if it is only seasonal, rest homes at Christmas time, for example.
- About finances. We want her to have an understanding of interest, saving and the value of property. I want her to know that saving for retirement if she doesn't have a pension should begin as soon as she starts working. This will be Nathan's area since he marched in to the offices of his job at Leisure World on his 18th birthday and asked to sign up for retirement. He's a bit of a planner, and much better with finances than I am.
- To have a strong faith and understanding of the Bible. I lost my faith before I was ten, and still do not know many of the stories in the Bible. I hope that we are able to do a good job cultivating that in her so that even if she drifts away for awhile, she always has it to come back to. I think it can also be effective in teaching her how to be a good person and live a good life. Maybe she will help my faith through hers.
- Her family heritage. I want her to know my Mom, her Nana, and all of the amazing qualities that made her saint-like. I want her to know about her grandparents and great grandparents and how they made sacrifices not just to enhance their own life, but the quality of life for her as well. I want her to know that her grandmother's family is related to the Trapp Family Singers whose book was adapted into The Sound of Music and hail from Trier in Germany. I want her to know about what it was like for my Mom to grow up in England as an Irish immigrant and know her recipes for shepherd's pie and Irish soda bread. I want her to love and honor her commitment to family.
- The value of education and a plan for college. When I was a toddler, my Dad began talking to me about college. It was never if I went but when. It was a given. I remember one of these conversations after a karate lesson when I was eight years old. Even at that young of an age, I knew I was going to college, even though I didn't really know what college was. In fact, education is so important to my Dad that although he did not graduate college when he was younger because he was working (sometimes, two jobs) to support his family, he has now gone back to school full time at the age of 70. As trite as it may sound, I hope she becomes a life-long learner, as we plan to take a class here or there once we retire.
- How to be happy and healthy. I want Autumn to know that the two are intrinsically linked, and hope that she will love physical activity, whether it be swimming, a sport or running. I want her to know that although we cannot choose what happens to us, we do have control over how we respond to it. In many ways, happiness is a choice and all about our perspective. This idea is nothing new. As I read on one of my favorite blogs yesterday, Epictetus said way back in 100 AD that it is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. I want her to know she can choose happiness no matter what life throws her way, and that it was possible to find happy moments with Mom even while she had brain cancer and we knew our time was limited.
Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Ten Things I Want My Daughter to Know Before She Turns Ten
After reading this article, I decided to write my own list of ten things I want Autumn to know before she turns ten.
Posted by Megan Swanek