Comparing Myself to Others... I Know I Shouldn't Do It

Most of the time I am happy with my life.  I feel good about the accomplishments I've made and how far I've come on my own.  I'm proud of my children, they're happy healthy adults and I love my grandchildren more than words can explain.

But then there's other times (like now)

I've spent a bit of time on Facebook recently and have reconnected with some of my old school mates and close friends from childhood.  They're all a bit shocked when I tell them I have grandchildren because I'm only 40.   I had my first daughter at 17, 2 months before I turned 18....  most of these people were aware of that. I've been chatting with them a bit about how their lives have turned out.

I didn't live at home, I finished high school and raised my children myself.  I didn't go directly to college because I had 2 little babies by the time I was 20 and was living states away from my family with an alcoholic husband who I ended up divorced from by the time I was 22.  Eventually I went to college (part time at night) but I was pretty darn broke most of their childhood.  We were even on public assistance for the first 2 years after I divorced their father until I got back on my feet!  There was no college fund from them and quite frankly, it was not easy keeping track of things.  I ended up in a second bad marriage had a third child when I was 29 (and 2 step kids to boot) and my life revolved around caring for all 5 of my children.   Eventually I divorced a second time and once again was broke and on my own.   Our house was lost to foreclosure and we filed bankruptcy in 2002.  

Since then I have gotten back on my feet, bought a house in my own name, make quite a nice salary for the area I live in and am no longer broke.   I did this on my own.  Parents didn't help me, boyfriends didn't help me, the government didn't help me this time. 

My oldest daughter is married now but went through a lot emotionally the past few years, especially after losing her 1st baby to a genetic disease when he was only a few months old.  I was there with her, at her house and in her bed with her when he passed away (as was I there when he was born and all of my grandbabies were born) She's now married with a 16 month old healthy child, a homeowner and in school to become a nurse.  The thing is.... the job she works to pay for her classes and help support her family is in a ***** club.  She makes A LOT of money in only a few hours two nights a week (probably more than she will when she finishes nursing school working full time)  Her husband is fully supportive of her job choice.  She and I have the kind of relationship where she doesn't hide this sort of thing from me.  We are very close (as is my relationship with my other daughters as well)

My middle daughter got pregnant at 16.  She is now 20 and has a second child and living away from hom with a her boyfriend and they may not be working the greatest jobs ever (waitress & construction) but they are making it on their own and happy.

My youngest child still lives at home, is an honor roll student in middle school.

Why do I feel like a failure???  Because it's MY FAULT I got pregnant so young. I didn't go to college before having children, they were forced to grow up poor and didn't get to go to a good University College themselves.  They are young and have children of their own already and YES I fully believe I am too young to be a grandmother.  It is MY FAULT - the way I raised them is why they chose the life path they did.  If I had been a more successful person BEFORE they were born then they wouldn't have been subjected to the kind of lives they are living.   It took me 20 years to straighten my life out because I got married so young, had children so young - they shouldn't have had to live through that.  They shouldn't think it's NORMAL for girls their age to be mothers!!  There were too many opportunities they didn't have because I was young and dumb.

Perhaps my youngest will have a better chance at a better life.  Perhaps she won't end up pregnant before she is 20 years old. Perhaps she WILL go to college directly after high school....  Maybe I won't be a failure as a parent 3 times in a row.

Most of the time I'm not ashamed of my life, but sometimes...  when I think about how it would sound to me if someone else told me "I'm 40 years old, twice divorced, had to file bankruptcy at one point, have 4 grandchildren, and one of my kids works in a ***** club"  I'm embarrassed.

I shouldn't really care what other people think - and most of the time I don't.  I shouldn't have to think there is something wrong with me because I AM proud of my girls... I shouldn't have to validate those feelings to other people.  For the way their lives have gone, they are doing fantastic in my opinion.  My children have been the most important part of my life for as long as I can remember.  How could I do this to them??

I just wish I had somehow done things differently with my life.   I was very selfish.

Creamsicle Creamsicle
41-45, F
3 Responses Feb 26, 2009

Thanks guys.... I had forgotten I wrote this story.<br />
<br />
Brought tears to my eyes reading it again- I haven't been feeling down about things lately, but it just cut right to my heart when I reread this and think about it.

Dont worry creamsicle. things sometimes just turn out to be the way We want them. but Im proud of you that you managed everything on youw own which quite an achievement. things and situations were different back then so don't blame yourself. at 40 you are still young, you have much to see in the world. So don't be upset by these things because you did what you thought was right. <br />
and rdpotter, Im proud of you too. I am not in that situation but still Ican understand you. I tryly admire your courage. kep fighting. thanks for sharing your exp.

Dear Creamsicle: Your story stuck out for me. I read it and I have to say that I know exactly how you feel. I cant' say I went through what you did, in fact, I did the opposite but I'm in a place that sounds a lot like where you are. I met my husband when I was 15. We didn't marry until 8 years later and I didn't have my kids until 8 years after that. I went to high school, then university then graduate school. So what makes us alike ? My marriage fell apart about 6 years ago. I got divorced, went back to school and got another degree. But unlike most inspirational stories, this does not end happily. I looked for months for a job, finally found a sad little teaching job and before the 3 month probation, got fired. Now I sit stunned, wondering if I made yet another mistake in judgement that my kids have to pay for. By marrying the only serious boyfriend I had and being sheltered all my life, I've spent my 20's and 30's being a stay at home mom and learned no life skills. Now, at 45, I'm struggling even with a pathetic starter's job. I feel ike I have no life skills and I cry when I think how will my girls learn to be a success if their mom is so not one ? I feel like it's my FAULT too that I screwed up my one opportunity to get back on my feet. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm still stunned and feel like someone took a swipe at me and ripped out my insides. How could I be so bad at something I love to do ? I can't believe how my life fell apart when I left a man that had no respect for me. I thought my life would get better. In some ways, it did. I no longer have to walk on eggshells but now that he's out of the picture, my own flaws are magnified 10 fold. I don't have any suggestions for you. I just want to say that I know how you feel and I feel for you because nothing hurts moms more than thinking that their children will be hurt by their own inadequecies. For whatever it's worth, I think you made it through some pretty incredible stuff and if you love your kids, that will be the thing that is the most important to them. to know that and to see you happy. I hope that helps. I hope you write back.