Before I begin, let me make it clear that I don’t regret my oldest child. She’s a blessing to me in a thousand different ways, and even when I was struggling to make it to class, pinching pennies to afford day care, eating Ramen noodles and dried beans, living in a trailer the size of a shoebox, and wearing my cousin’s hand-me-downs, I never regretted my daughter.
But, oh, how I regret the timing.
Let’s back up a bit. I was a late bloomer in high school Thanks to a rigidly-religious upbringing, I wasn’t allowed to date until after my sixteenth birthday. You know that song Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed? Sadly, that was me. And while I did start dating—and kissing—I held on to my V-Card with a white-knuckled Kung Fu Grip. I wasn’t ready for sex in high school. Actually, that’s an understatement. Sex scared the ever-loving shiz out of me.
One month later, I was staring at two pink lines that said he was wrong and I was an idiot.
That’s when my freedom ended, precisely two semesters after it began. I got married (at age 19), gave birth to a daughter, and spent the next few years living in abject poverty—seriously, I sold my plasma for gas money—while doing my best to graduate on time. And my marriage? Let’s just say it wasn’t a happy one. Despite what songwriters tell us, love isn’t enough to make it work.
But it’s not the poverty and heartbreak that fuel my regrets. It’s the loss of my freedom. I missed out on the Selfish Years of my twenties, that magical window to travel, explore my interests, and just be young and irresponsible. And because I started over in my thirties (two sons with a new husband), I’ll never be free. Well, maybe when the baby moves out, but who knows if I’ll live to see that day. Again, I don’t regret the children, just the timing.
I crave those Selfish Years. Hard. And my biggest regret is that I cheated myself out of them.
Okay, enough of my regrets. Now it’s your turn. Did you cheat yourself out of anything during your youth, and do you miss it now?