I am almost 40. Almost…
It has been a good life, not unlike a really wonderful roller coaster ride; incredible highs, some really deep lows, lots of unexpected twists and turns. Times that have taken my breath away and times that have made me want to vomit. Laughter, tears, joy, panic, and every emotion in between. Yes, it has been a truly great and glorious life.
As I look back on these (almost) 40 years I think of all that I have learned. Surely I am a fountain of wisdom after all these years. So what wisdom would I pass on to my younger self, hindsight being what it is? What are some of the more valuable morsels of truth collected and treasured in my brain?
Dear Younger Self,
Work on strengthening your core and pelvic floor. Do it! Right now you think having a flat tummy with muscle definition is where it’s at. Well, let me tell you, one day you’re going to have a baby and you’re going to need a strong core and pelvic floor to help keep that baby in and to help get that baby out. And when that’s all done keep working on those precious muscles because then you’re going to want to just not wet yourself.
Learn to be flexible. Yes, body flexibility is good and cool and useful but that’s not what I’m talking about. Be flexible in your mind and heart. Someday you will have a partner who isn’t like you who has wants and needs and desires different than your own. And one day you will have children, multiple children, each one different than the one that came before. Do not get locked into one way of thinking and doing and working. It will only cause a lot of anger, tears, and frustration. If you learn to be more fluid with how you parent, run your house, do your job, be a wife, you will be so much happier.
Eat your veggies. No…LOVE your veggies! Bread is not your friend. The days of being able to work out for a couple of days in order to prepare for something special or work off some tragedy and drop a few pounds are behind you. Literally…behind you.
Remember and believe you are beautiful (inside as well as out). Advertising aimed at young impressionable women like you are trying to make you believe they can melt your cellulite, take away your wrinkles, lift your chins (yup that’s gonna happen too), or make your hair really big (trust me older you has invested a lot of money into this lie!). Marketers use fake words to tell us one thing…you are too old, too fat, too ugly! I mean what the heck is a collagen sphere or plumping molecule? You are beautiful. Period! And all those wrinkles are evidence of a life well lived. Enjoy them, no relish them!
Don’t read all the parenting books. And if you are going to read a few, don’t read them all at one time. What you don’t know is that they all say something different from what you are already doing. This will make you crazy and you don’t need an extra dose of crazy! Women have been parenting since the beginning of time, you are no different. You have instincts and intuitions, trust them and act on them and I guarantee you will parent with so much more freedom. Believe in yourself…I do!
Not everyone is looking at you or thinking about you. I know, right now you really like turning a head or two but you and I both know that there’s more to you than meets the eye (like how I threw it back to your fav cartoon from the 80’s there?). This thought pattern doesn’t change as you age unless you nip it in the butt now. When you get older you will wonder things like am I still beautiful, is that man looking at me, did she notice how I held my ground with my kids, are they judging me for not eating organic/sleep training/disciplining my kids, etc, etc. It’s nonsense, just nonsense. News flash…life is not all about you. The world is big and full and people have their own junk to worry about without concerning themselves over yours too.
You can’t do it all, so don’t even try. Oh, I know you think you can but trust me on this. I will save you so much time, energy and heartache. Do what you are good at, don’t be ashamed for what you can handle, and do that stuff well. And keep reminding your 40 year old self that too!
Be kind and do good. Those two things will take you a long way in life. So simple.
It’s ok to be a continuous work in progress. You’re young and you may think you have your s**t together now but you don’t. That doesn’t happen until your 30’s. Even now as you near 40 you need to remember to hold life with an open hand and approach everything with the posture of a learner.