The Little Things Collaboration By Niki Jones & edited by Dani Lee

Vodka on the rocks with three limes was my signature drink by the time I was 18. Some would call that drinking like a boss. Now at 32, I look back and think I was just plain stupid. But even with the stupidity, I don’t have a single regret…that I can remember. My beer pong skills were unrivaled within my graduating class, and my resiliency to bounce back after a night of drinking and dancing on table tops would impress even Paris Hilton.

All this being said, let’s be honest, when I announced my pregnancy I heard the whispers and murmurs under people’s breath: “Well I’m surprised this didn’t happen earlier,” “Finally she will stop partying,” or “I wonder if she will be a good mom?” I have heard those whispers my entire life; the same people sweetly smiling in your face are the first to judge and gossip behind your back. But I always kept on with my head held high.

I was the girl who used to sneak into clubs at 16 with a fake ID, and tell my Dad I was staying at my best friend’s house “studying.” When my parents split up at 17 and I was left to “watch” the house, I hosted a plethora of wild parties where we danced and swam the nights away drinking Strawberry Boones and smoking those oh so cool skinny cigarettes. On the bright side, I didn’t experiment with drugs in high school. I waited until I was more mature and responsible, and did that in college.

During my college years I studied abroad, where the legal drinking age was 18. This, thankfully, made my final years of being underage go by a tad quicker. I partied my way through Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, The French Riviera and London creating some amazing experiences and memories that no amount of alcohol could remove from my mind’s vault. After college I moved to Vegas for about five years – I think the choice alone sums up that time in my life. Yes, I fell off the deep end a few times and yes, my friends and family came in occasionally to support me. As you can imagine, vodka on the rocks with three limes at the age of 18 often equivocates to walking home crying with no shoes, amongst a wealth of other emotional issues.

The most amazing thing to me is that throughout all of my partying days (and yes, I realize they went on much longer than most people) I always maintained at least one good job, I always volunteered within the community, and I made a ton of amazing friends to rely on. Being away from my blood family since the age of 17, my friends truly did become my family. I learned how to build, grow and maintain friendships in a way that I could not have learned from school alone. Being on my own, being labeled the “Party Girl” and therefore underestimated, forced me to be resilient and forge genuine connections. Because of this, more often than not my friends were my lifeline.

Now that I have a daughter, I honestly don’t ever look back and think “Ahh I wish I had travelled more,” or, “I wish I would have done that,” I feel satisfied with every choice I have made; even the ones they (by the way—who are they anyway? I need names.) gossiped about and called me stupid for. Good, bad, or indifferent, they have built my character and my knowledge of the world. I honestly believe that being a party girl has equipped me with the skills I need to help my daughter navigate through this crazy journey called life.

Here are five reasons why being a Party Girl will make me a GREAT mom:

She won’t get ANYTHING by me. I honestly feel there is something to be said about my character and how I have lived my life. I have always been pretty open about my crazy antics and their effects on me. Candid, truthful and humorous is how most of my friends would describe me. I feel this will translate into motherhood well. Will I share every detail with her? NO. But, will I share some things with her at the right time, if it can help her grow as a woman? Absolutely. My relationships with friends, family and even those drunken women I met at 2am in the club bathroom have always been built on open, honest communication. It will be no different with my daughter. Plus, I know just about every trick in the book.

She will have the right balance of shelter and sunlight. Lets face it, had I not be so sheltered growing up, I probably wouldn’t have rebelled so hard during my teens and early twenties. I feel there was a direct correlation between how much I was not allowed to do and how far I wanted to push the boundaries. The juxtaposition between my sheltered upbringing and early rebellion will allow me to provide shelter when needed, but also encourage her to bask in the sunlight. You truly can’t enjoy one without the other.

She will always have an honest friend. Looking back, I wish I had someone share with me how hard life can be. People can be cruel, relationships are rollercoasters not merry-go-rounds, and not everything is going to go your way. These are simple lessons adults take for granted but as a teenager, they are the mountains that will be better scaled with some assistance. A healthy amount of insight into life’s lessons is a good thing. I will be able to show her how to honestly work through trials, rather than run from them (as I often did). She will know she always has an open, honest friend to bounce ideas off of.

She will have her own voice. One of the biggest lessons I learned the hard way was allowing people to control me and create boundaries for me. These situations were often unhealthy and harmful, and led me to reaching my breaking point rather quickly. This being said, I will always make sure my daughter recognizes her own voice and hears its beauty. I will teach her to speak for herself and genuinely love what she has to say. A simple yes or no will be impactful and deliberate. She will know when to apologize, share her feelings and most importantly, ask for help. From a young age, I want to make sure she thinks for herself and can express her feelings with respect, grace and class.

She will be resilient. One thing I will thank them for is teaching me how to be resilient. Had it not been for those who gossiped, drug me through the mud and used my life as a source of entertainment, I would not have the thick skin I do now. There are very few things that could be said to me now, that I have not heard before. In the same breath, I have learned it is not what you are called but rather what you answer to. I know who I am, I know my truths, and I am honest with my intentions. Unfortunately, half of the people my age can’t say the same. I will make sure my daughter knows who she so when she gets to the age of mean-girls (and lets face it, this is a life long phase) the names, gossip and cruel words wont break her spirit; they will be just that—words.

I may not have everything figured out, and my journey on this path of motherhood has just begun (my daughter is only 3 months, we’re quite a bit away from crushes or gossip girls), but I feel I am ready for whatever is thrown at me…with my daughter by my side and the occasional vodka with three limes.