Compare Contrast

"Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.” – Helen Keller

One of the things my daughter has repeatedly said to me, or begged of me, is to understand that she is just a kid, she is immature, and don’t I remember when I was her age?

The last statement is key.

Of course I remember when I was her age but you cannot and should not compare me to her at that age. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Our lives couldn’t be more different.

At her age, I had been on my own for almost four years. I had spent four years struggling to find a job, pay for my own school, and have enough money to eat

With the exception of one good friend, I was completely alone in a large city. There was no money, no food, no one to help me.

I was a mother who had lost her child. I was a mother suffering from PTSD and having nightmares about a baby crying. Depression and suicidal ideation were common place. I had no money for therapy and the agency, from the day they took my child, wanted nothing to do with me and never offered any post surrender counseling. I was persona non grata once they had my child.

I was sleeping on the floor as I had no money for furniture. I was lucky enough at one point to buy a used mattress (eeeww) and box spring from a drug dealer named Clyde. He lived across the street from my apartment.  He was a black man and black men always love me (baby got back, you know). We became friendly somehow and at some point he realized how poor I was and my situation.  My apartment was infested with cockroaches. I was thankful for the dark brown carpeting that prevented me from actually being able to count them.

I was stealing food from the refrigerators of my office. I was lifting cans of soup from the Lincoln Park families I babysat for when I was not working or in school.

I was estranged from my family and rarely spoke to them or saw them.

I am not looking for sympathy here. I am merely noting that my life at that age was a far cry from hers. I cannot possibly say I know what it is like to lead her life. In my experience, an age is not a determinant of your maturity. Life experience is.

My daughter is the only child her adoptive parents purchased from the Kurtz brokers. She attends an elite college that her parents pay for. She has food, a warm place to sleep, people to help her. Her life is about living. Mine at that age was about surviving.

When it comes to Maslows hierarchy of needs, my place at her age is a far cry from hers.

Again, not sympathy or even jealousy. Merely a statement of fact.  Also an indication of why I have such a hard time understanding her. When you raise your children, or grow up with your mother, you know her story. While your own life may be different, you have some degree of understanding and respect for your mothers life and what she endured before you. My daughter has no knowledge of mine therefore she cannot understand why I don’t understand hers.

So yeah, I do remember what it was like to be her age. But I am not her and she isn’t me.

And some part of me is very grateful for that.

She always deserved better.

1 Thought.

  1. RE: While your own life may be different, you have some degree of understanding and respect for your mothers life and what she endured before you. My daughter has no knowledge of mine therefore she cannot understand why I don’t understand hers.
    My son’s and my life are the reverse of yours and your daughter’s. I was comfortable with all the opportunities; he was on the street by age 14, only has an eighth grade education. He resents what he considers my “cushy life.” He can’t know the dysfunction I lived with. Nor can I truly appreciate what he endured. I think we’re equally screwed up. But that commonality isn’t enough.

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