What was the biggest mistake you think you ever made and how did it change your life?
When I Renee and I began dating, I was still very much afraid of most people and avoided interacting with anyone as much as possible. Despite this, I really tried to be respectful towards Renee’s parents. At the time I thought that I was achieving that, but looking back I see now that my actions didn’t always reflect respectful tendencies. I think my attitude could have been a little better, but to be honest, I see it a lot in kids who are left to fend for themselves at an early age. Not that I am excusing my behavior, but I do think it explains it somewhat.
This was the problem: I looked like a kid, I reacted like a kid, I made decisions like a kid – and for good reason… I was a kid. But I had to work and support myself as an adult. I had to figure out which bills to pay when there wasn’t enough money to cover them all, something a kid shouldn’t have to do. When I didn’t know the answer to a question, that question was never answered. I was a kid, stuck in an adult’s world, and I was honestly trying to do the best that I could. For this reason, I think I had a hard time being treated like a kid. I think all of this, coupled with my awkwardness, came off as disrespect sometimes, and for that I am regretful.
I have to be completely honest; I don’t think that I would be as cool about a kid dating my daughter if he reminded me of myself at sixteen. I wasn’t a bad kid, in fact, I steered clear of anything that could get myself and Renee into any kind of trouble. But I was very backwards and had every red flag imaginable. I didn’t go to school. I couldn’t drive. My parents were in prison and I lived with my siblings without any type of parental supervision. There were many times when Renee would ditch her family to help me out during a time when no one else would; be it a drive home from work at midnight, or teaching me how to drive. I didn’t have a whole lot of pluses to speak of, and I know that her parents had their concerns. But when she and I decided to marry at 19 and 20 (another thing that I would freak out about as a parent), they were more than accepting. I worked at a pizza restaurant, and had zero education. And they welcomed me into their family. I don’t know that my behavior had a long lasting effect; if it did, it would be that I am not as close to them as I would like to be. Nevertheless, they have never made me feel like an outsider, and that says a lot about them. I am glad that they all gave me a chance, despite my rocky beginning.
Peter Combs is a 28 year old husband, writer and former foster child. He currently lives with his wife, Renee, in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter is the author of the blog Home.