Life advice for my daughters

Karey Makin shares with us the advice she shares with her daughters.
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Karey Makin shares with us the advice she shares with her daughters.
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Image Credit: Erika Raxworthy

May Guest Editor Karey Mackin is the generous giver of advice on Clementine, so we were curious to know what words of wisdom she passes on to her own daughters. Lucky for us, she was willing to share a few insights worthy of her own babes...listen up, friends - this is the good stuff!

From what I can remember, my mom only gave me three pieces of life advice: be happy, surround yourself with nice people, and don't brag. (There was a fourth one about sex that involved a story about her wedding night and the wondrous joy of waiting, but I was a pretty impatient girl.)

I thought her advice was awful. I mean, I was already happy. I was born happy. I'm that person who sees a drop of water in the bottom of a glass, mistakes it for champagne, and invites everyone over for happy hour. Also, had I listened to her and only surrounded myself with nice people in high school and college and now as an adult, do you know how many friends I'd have? Eleven. Which is exactly how many friends I have. Give or take.

As for no bragging, clearly this was a woman who did not have a Facebook page.

So when I became a mom to three girls, I thought I'd do way better. I'd be more specific. More realistic about what's important. Goal-focused, you know? So here is my life advice for my girls, and I hope it's sticking.

Choose the right career. One of my daughters wants to be a doctor, but she also wants to stay home full-time with her someday babies and give them a childhood like the one she enjoyed. I think her exact quote was, "I don't want other people touching my stuff." So we're researching how she can realistically manage that expectation. But I also tell my girls over and over again that life is a never-ending series of disruptions to our carefully planned plans. Sometimes, these disruptions involve other people touching our stuff. At best. If we can figure out a way to make these disruptions delightful and not devastating, well, that's a happy life right there.

I'm trying so hard to convince them that having an out-of-the-house career won't make their children hate them or feel neglected or have poor table manners or grow up too fast. None of them are buying it. Who raised these people?! I would've loved if my parents weren't around as much when I wanted them not to be around, as long as they were around when I needed them. Ahhh, the insane push-pull of parent-child relationships. Get ready for it, girls, no matter what career choices you ultimately make!

I'll be honest. Sometimes I feel horrible that I chose to stay at home with my girls. I think I made it look easier than it was – without sacrifice and a pure delight. They have no idea who I could’ve become, and only see me as the lady who made their lives as close to perfect as I could. I’m fine with that; there will come a time when I am my number one priority again. And I can already feel that it will be equal parts exhilarating and painful, but one hundred percent without regret.

Choose the right friends. When my girls tell me about someone new, I ask how that person makes them feel when they walk away. You and I both know that there are people in our world that make our faces scrunch up every time we turn our backs and cause us to wonder, "Did she mean to say that, or..." and check that our watch and our pride are still there. Those are not our people.

The goal is walking up to someone feeling like fifteen bucks and change, and leaving them feeling like you've just won three scratch-off lottery tickets. Isn't it? Because people like that are our people. Anything less is simply less.

Don't hashtag your life. Early in my Instagram game, I added four or five popular hashtags to an Instagram post and got about fifty likes in five minutes. My teens explained that people just blindly like certain hashtags, so it's good form to add them to boost a posting's worth. I can't really explain how that made me feel, other than to describe the feeling as hollow. And I promised myself that I would never seek that empty esteem again, online or off.

I guess I feel like the people who are supposed to love my life are the ones who honestly love me. I am proud when I make my closest ones proud. I am thrilled if one of my sentences gets stuck in someone else’s broken heart. But I get a lot embarrassed by polite applause and meaningless adoration, and I hope my girls grow that way, too. It all gets in the way of real life and true love.

(Related: Don't filter your life, either. It's gorgeous enough as it is. Just ask the people who don't have one anymore.)

Sex is a beautiful thing, when it's a beautiful thing. My girls told me a story about a girl who performed a lovely little favor for a boy in her parents' coat closet. Much to her dismay, he never really talked to her again until the next time he needed a favor. That time, it was a furnace room in the basement.

Their story made me so mad, I seriously saw red. And I told my girls in no uncertain terms (which means loudly and vehemently and “Roll up the windows, girls!") that when it comes to relationships, I would rather be the girl who lost the guy – or, if they're at that stage in their life, the girl who owned her sexuality and knew damn well her worth – than the girl who was treated no better than a musty winter coat and a box of forgotten Christmas decorations. I am still steamed for that girl and anyone else who doesn't realize she's an absolute wonder.

I guess my advice and my mom's to me back in the day doesn't look that much different, does it? It's funny. About a year ago, I asked her why she didn't encourage me to be something important to the world. She said, "I told you to make a happy life. You've done that. And who is this world you need to be so important to?"

She's so right, as she's always been. My world today isn't remotely how I once defined it, all hectic appointments and clients who need me right this very minute and a list of New York Times bestsellers by me me me. It's about, like, eleven people. Give or take.

p.s. Be sure to cheek back shortly for our favorite links of the week!