A memoir to my daughters on growing up, getting it wrong, and giving my best

A heartfelt and funny collection of journals illuminating the joy, uncertainty, and complexity of modern motherhood. Journey with Anony Mom through her social awkwardness, failed romances, and cycle breaking, as she attempts to embrace her imperfections and murder her inner people-pleaser who just won't die.

Through both cautionary tales and unexpected inspirations, the author dissects her perceived shortcomings, the challenge of nurturing good humans, the importance of authenticity and self love, and the healing nature of parenting. Most of all, this book is a love letter to her daughters, an apology for any parenting flaws, and a declaration of hope for their futures.

For any mom or daughter who struggles, apologizes, over-thinks, and keeps trying despite her imperfections; for any wounded inner child still wishing for the loving guidance and genuine apologies that they deserve; and for any soul still finding their footing who might feel alone.

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Excerpt from Reparenting Myself © Copyright 2024 Anony Mom

1. Who am I?

Where do I start? How did I become this way? I ask myself that question a lot. Honestly, who is self indulgent enough to write an entire book of childhood stories and self-described wisdom for her daughters? What weirdo makes their kids a playlist of preferred songs for their own funeral? Who has the time? (NOT me!)  Who has the desire? (Me!) Who is narcissistic enough to think that anyone would want to read their innermost thoughts, failures, struggles, and advice? (Maybe me?)

I fully accept that you may never read this. Maybe I’ll live long enough to gradually tell all these stories in person, though honestly that would be more annoying than this book, because all my sentimental and preachy energy would be in your actual face. But maybe one day you’ll want to hear me and I won’t be around, so I’m hedging that bet by writing everything I want to tell you down on paper. You’re welcome!

I’ll start by briefly reviewing my childhood, so you can see what molded me. I know there are a lot of nature versus nurture theories out there, and the pendulum swings between the two, but I tend to favor nurture as the origin of my own maladies.

By all accounts, including my own, I had a great childhood. I had two loving parents, who gave me everything they possibly could. Before I can even remember, my parents divorced when I was five and began 50/50 joint custody. I became accustomed to moving every 3.5 days, having two homes approximately 15 minutes away from each other. In retrospect, any kid is incredibly lucky to have one loving parent and one home, so I was twice blessed, though it didn’t feel that way at the time. I got used to it, but life felt like a tug-of-war and I was the rope.

I have one older sister. SPOILER ALERT: we are currently estranged. More on that later.

After the divorce, I was the protected baby of the family. I was not my mothers’ emotional friend, as I believe my sister was. Therefore, we grew up in the same household, having completely different experiences. I was sporty and my dad was a coach; my sister was musical and my mom loved theater. So, the logical arrangement seemed to be my dad pairing off with me for activities and my mom pairing off with my sister. My mom and sister shared long drives to attend special theater coaching. My dad was my soccer coach and has been my cheerleader my entire life. In the last decade, he has tried to reverse his favoritism and give my sister more attention. That has led to our relationship being a bit strained, but his relationship with my sister growing stronger. I actually fully support that, since I had all the fathering that I needed as a child and she feels she did not. I think I got what I needed, when I needed it.

Despite the divorce, my parents were able to semi-peacefully co-parent and I grew up in a pretty blissful, suburban, middle-class existence. My parents were both teachers, and worked 2 or 3 jobs each to support us. They definitely demonstrated a solid work ethic, and though we were not rich, my sister and I had all of our basic needs met and more. I lived in a safe neighborhood with tons of kids, at a time when computers and cell phones did not exist. We could run over to the park or a friend's house without much thought, as long as we were back for dinner. We would ride our dirt bikes down the street and go fishing in the neighborhood creek. I wish growing up was more like that today.

I did well in school and sports and prided myself on being a hard worker. I probably wasn’t the smartest nor the fastest, but I worked my little booty off to have straight As and be MVP. My mantra was that I could out work someone else’s talent. While I have found that to be true through most of my life, having some talent sure would have been nice at times.

After high school, I went away to an awesome university, which was the first of many life-changing experiences. I majored in pre-med Biology and competed for two years as a walk-on to the Cross Country team. After college, I took a year to work, apply to medical school, and save money. I got accepted to a few schools and chose one an hour from home.

After medical school, I completed residency and now I’m a primary care doctor. I met your dad online during intern year and he proposed during my final year of residency. We married one year later and got pregnant with you, my oldest daughter, around our first wedding anniversary. That’s the basic outline, but skims over all the struggles and growth that happened along the way, so I’ll get to that in a bit.

And that brings me to the present day as a part-time primary care doctor and married mom of three. It’s great AND it’s a lot. I like to think of myself as a passionate social justice advocate and outdoorsy granola person, but in reality am way more complacent, suburban, boring soccer mom than I care to acknowledge. I’m working on it, though!

As I write this, you girls are ages 8 and 6, and your brother is 3. I’m not sure at what age it will be appropriate for you to read this book; maybe as teens, though I can’t imagine you will want to hear anything I have to say at that stage. Maybe in adulthood, when I’m dead and gone. Maybe never and all these thoughts will go unread into the void. At least they’ll be out of my head.

My subconscious child-mind coping mechanism for my parents’ divorce was to become a desperate people-pleaser. At home, I would go with the flow and be the “easy kid” with no feelings or problems. While this served me well in my youth and led to adoration as the high-achieving, “well adjusted” baby of the family, my people pleasing tendency still haunts me to this day. I’m trying so hard to break out of it, but it is ingrained in every fiber of my being. Your poor dad married a bend-over-backwards people pleaser who he is now emotionally supporting through “becoming her own person” and asserting her needs, aka I’m becoming more and more difficult with age. Poor guy. But, yay for me!

Like every human, I have had a unique set of circumstances and challenges that made me who I am today. Some made me funny and quirky, others made me neurotic and unbearable. I want to share my coming of age, in an effort to break cycles of generational microtrauma and move you along on your own path to self discovery. My hope is that by sharing my trials and tribulations, illuminating what I am trying to do differently than my own parents, and laying out all the little signs on the road that I may have missed, I can spare you some of the heartache, self-doubt, and grief I experienced. This might turn out to be a rambling mess but I’ll give it a try anyways.

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