For the first thirty years of my life, I chased the American Dream (the things you should want). I was the most driven young woman you’d ever want to know. But you might not have wanted to know me. I was “successful” and miserable. I realized that having a new car, a gorgeous house with a swimming pool, nice clothes, the latest in everything, was not the way to happiness or even close. I appalled almost everyone who knew me by selling everything and going west. I’ve told that story before so I won’t tell it here.
My decision to drop out of the fast lane was exactly the right decision for me. I don’t advocate it for everyone or try to force it on anyone. My point is that I listened to my heart and followed it. I would hope everyone reading this would do the same, but especially my daughter, Margarita.
Today we were texting and, since I’m her mother, I was bugging her. I wanted to know why she was reluctant to go all-out in celebration of her 30th birthday. The answer was that she feels she “hasn’t done anything.” Really, Margarita? Please allow me to remind you.
Before you turned thirty you did many amazing things: you survived a horrendous school situation; you were instrumental in helping me open a club for the youth of Terlingua and you devoted countless hours of your time to working with kids who needed you; you opened a successful store on a shoestring budget and with nothing but faith in yourself and your partner; you taught yourself graphic design and created t-shirts and four book covers for your mother’s novels. How many moms can brag about that? You bought a house. You changed your mind about living in Terlingua so you sold it and bought a truck and travel trailer and took off to live a dream. Hello?
In spite of what you think, you’re young. You’re living with the love of your life. How many people can say that? You’re living a life you chose. Not everyone can say that, either. You decided to travel the U.S. to see its beauty and to have adventures, meet new people, and see what else is “out there.” You live on a gigantic lake in pristine woods in California. When you get tired of there, you can go anywhere. Let your heart and your imagination rule. Stop comparing yourself to others!
You are a woman of substance, of conscience, of heart. You’re smart and talented. Don’t make me come over there!
When you were eight or nine years old, you were popping in and out of my bedroom, where I was listening to various self-improvement tapes. You left for a while but came back and asked, “What is this about?”
I replied that I was trying to be a better person, a more competent boss, a better mom, a better everything.
I wish I could take you back all those years and show you your face. You were exasperated. “Mom!” you cried with your hands outstretched, palms up. “How in the world can you be any better than you are?”
It’s funny the things we learn from our children. No, I did not stop trying to better myself, but I gave myself credit for being an amazing woman you adored. I decided to love myself and accept that there would always be room for improvement. And there always is. That day was a turning point in my life, brought to me by an innocent child with an unconditional love for her mom.
Thank you, Margarita and Happy Birthday! Now I’m turning your words on you. How in the world can you be any more successful than you are?