At age 17 I began working as an assistant teacher in a children’s gym. The program was non-competitive based entirely on self esteem. I cannot begin to express how much I learned during my time at this gym. We had wealthy and famous clients. I saw kids, young kids, being raised by their nannies. I watched parents work hard and spend thousands trying to out-do each other with their kids birthday parties on the weekends. I was often shocked an amazed at how the behaviors of the parents affected the kids, even at 2 years old.

I decided back then that I would NEVER treat my children this way. This, in my opinion is where the entitled Gen Y gets their attitude from. Most parents made the children’s entertainment their #1 priority leaving behind their own life. My goals when I became a mother were to nurture my children and foster a strong sense of esteem and self worth without any fluff. No big birthday parties, no senses of entitlement, chores are mandatory, no means no, the golden rule etc. But even in this altruistic attempt at better parenting I woke up one day and realized that I too had lost myself.

I began to dig up memories of my childhood. I thought about what my parents did and how daily life was for me. It occurred to me that I was rarely put into extracurricular classes or sports. I know that is also in part because we didn’t have any extra money to spend on those things, but in truth, I belive it was because my parents never stopped their life for me.

My father was a part time film critic. I was attending movie screenings from the time I was 2 weeks old. My time spent with dad was almost always at the movies. As I grew older I would even take the city bus to meet him at work and then off to some premiere we would go. I averaged 3-5 films per week, while he often saw many more than that. He never once stopped his hobby for me. In return, I had an amazing childhood that not many get to have.

I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt now that my kids are getting older and I realize they won’t be living with me for much longer. I’m guilty for not finding more hobbies, for not being true to my hearts desires, and for not simply getting out of the house more often and LIVING my own life in front of my kids. I want them to know the lesson of never losing yourself in the midst of parenting because I believe that it makes you a better parent. I would also caution them that this does not mean being selfish or self centered, simply grounded and a little more balanced than I have been.

Although the events in the book are personal, this isn't my story; it's our story. We've all been there: shamefully sucking-in our tummies to impress others, or using our sexuality to advance our careers because our intelligence or talent come second. Chapters from the book will be released in no chronological order, organically pouring out of me as emotions and memories resurface. Thank you for being here. —Kristen