Twenty-three years ago I was 17 years old. I was a teen mom who graduated from high school at the age of 16 and started college at the age of 17.
My story of regrets will begin at that moment. That day was “23 B.B.,” or 23 years Before Blogging.
Being a teen mom 23 years ago was not like it is today. There were no on-campus daycares to help care for the little ones – meaning the babies. Teen moms are still “little ones” themselves. There was less social acceptance of the situation. In short, it was a hot mess.
Thankfully, I received encouragement and community from the Girls Inc. Teen Mom program. Social workers hosted monthly meetings that included talks and trainings such as Infant CPR, safer sex and subsequent pregnancy prevention, early childhood education, and employment skills. The program was beneficial to my sanity.
Writing also helped me stay sane. My gift of poetry first showed up in a high school journalism class where, without a prompt, Mrs. Bobbie Del-Watson asked us to pen a poem. Ten minutes later, every eye in the class turned around to see how in the world all of that just came out of quiet me.
“You just wrote that? Yourself?”
Not long thereafter, Girls Inc. sponsored a poetry contest. I wrote a poem about being biracial and I could not believe it when I won! A trip to the national conference in Indianapolis, a $500.00 scholarship, and a two page spread in the Girls Inc. newsletter later, I tasted my first experience of literary fame.
My first and only taste. Remember: This is about regrets. My chief regret? That I did not start blogging sooner.
Sure, every home did not have three computers, two iProducts, four cell phones, and one electronic reader back in 1991. I think that may have even been around the time the email was just getting started? No, I could not have literally blogged. At least I could have written more often.
Yes, there were other regrets.
Thirteen years later, I wish I would have taken my three sons and my ex-stepdaughter more places. Spent more time with them and my infant daughter than with my job.
Twenty-two years later, I could have taken custody of my meth addicted grandson. Instead, I decided it would be better for my son if he would have to address his addiction to regain custody. Alas, baby DJ ended up being adopted by the family who adopted his three maternal siblings…so my regret here is only a grandma missing her first grandbaby. The baby received what was best.
Speaking of adoption, I would have adopted my very first dog much sooner. Much, much sooner.
With all of that heart wrenching in my past, how does “not blogging sooner” top my list?
Simply for this, my dear Blogging Friends: 1. I have always been a writer. 2. You are trustworthy strangers.
If we travel back to 23 B.B. I was there, writing. Writing is who I am. Encouraging others is the story of my life.
Here you are, reading the Regrets of a stranger. However, you are safe. I cannot post such regrets on Facebook where all of my friends (and most likely yours, too) only post the fun and surface issues in their lives.
Blogging is writing personified. I can be myself because YOU understand the joy and pain of writing.
What pain? “The writer’s curse,” as I call it. If you reread one of your pieces, I suspect you will edit it every time. As good as the piece is, it can always be better.
Since I know you understand that, I know you will understand my regrets. I know you will not judge me. You will only “like” a blog if my writing was a slam dunk. You will keep moving if I did not achieve rhythm, balance, flow, and fumbled the goal.
Blogging. I can write “me.” I can read “you.” We are a team of strangers supporting each other in one of the most vulnerable areas of our hearts.
I will never forget my first “Follow” and “Follower” no matter how long I blog. JillPerryCarpenter’s blog (and dog) allowed her to trust that reaching outside of herself was okay. She trusted you, too, and your power became hers.
I will always be awed that Cross Stitching Blogger Ramona Ivan took the time to connect with me by posting a comment to encourage me in my writing journey. I never have and most likely, will never meet her. We live in different countries, but it does not matter. We are bloggers, so we are one.
I will always get a chuckle out of Superhero Blogger “Lizzee Sharrod” actually making the peanut butter dog treats I highlighted in a blog. She lives in the UK (I’m in the US) and although are lives are so different, we have bonded…over dog treats and blogging. Incredible!
“Tee,” one of my newest blog buddies, found me first. Is it just me, or when someone with a blog ten times better than one’s own starts following them, fireworks light the virtual sky? Yup. That’s how I felt when SerendipiTee found me. The first sentence on her “About” page identifies me. No, her. Well, us. We are long lost twins, reunited by blogging.
Blogging is a community, honest feedback, freedom of expression, personal growth, and the ability to write and be read.
Not being true to who I am and meeting you sooner, that is my regret.
So THANK YOU! Thank you for reading me – whether or not you follow me and the antics of my dog, his friends, and my friends – because at the end of the day (and every second in between), I am glad I can finally be me.
The “me” who is not 16 on the bus with two kids.
The “me” who is not wishing I had more time for those kids and less time for work.
The “me” who is not kissing her first grandbaby “Good-bye” and giving him the life he deserves.
The “me” who is just “me.”
Now, for those of you who read me regularly and know how funny I am, stop your crybabying and suck it up! People have a goal to be “Freshly Pressed” in their first 30 days of blogging here and I am down to a three day clock!
For those of you who never read me, please ignore the previous paragraph. I am nice to my readers. Really.