Sage Advice for My 18 Year Old: Happy Birthday, Danny
18 years ago, right this very minute, I was lying in a hospital bed absolutely scared out of my mind.
I was 18 years old myself, I was a pregnant single teenager (dating Randy, not yet engaged or married), I was on welfare and WIC, renting a bedroom from another single dad that my mom worked with, and I got free rent in exchange for babysitting his two school aged kids while he worked. I was a college drop out and here I was – having a baby.
Only 16 months prior, I was a 4.1 GPA honors graduate fresh out of high school, working two full time jobs, excited about moving to college, dreaming about maybe becoming a high school history teacher or joining the Navy to work in military media as a photographer, becoming a veterinarian and saving all the puppies, or working for National Geographic telling the stories of people and animals around the world. Getting married, having babies, holding off on a career until I was in my 30s, and everything else that has happened was definitely not even a remote possibility.
But in the blink of an eye, every single dream and plan I had changed and my life veered off the course I had counted on for my whole life up until that point. And at 9:10pm on October 14, 2002 – a new dream was born.
Daniel, as a brand new 18 year old, an “adult” in the eyes of the world – this is your time. It’s your time to dream and to make mistakes, it’s your time to create moments and memories that will shape the rest of your life. It’s your time to fall in love with yourself, and to live your best life.
The truth is: we can plan and hope and dream all the things. And I encourage you to do just that – dream, set goals, and work hard to make those things happen. But when things don’t go the way you hope, dream and plan for: that’s okay too.
It’s okay if you change your mind about the things you want in life.
If things don’t go the way you hoped, that’s okay.
And it’s okay if plans change.
Sometimes the absolute best things in life that happen are things that we don’t dream about, we don’t plan for and that we never expect.
Becoming your mom changed the course of my life in so many wonderful and incredible ways, and every single day you make me proud. Your empathy toward others, your willingness to work hard, your kindness and your heart – all of these things make you the wonderful young man that you are. Hearing your laugh is one of my favorite sounds in the world, your ability to love without fear inspires me, and your resilience is admirable.
I’m so proud to be your mom. Happy birthday, sweetheart.