Yes, that is my age; for anyone whom I did not go to school with, just in case you were wildly curious, but were afraid to ask.
I’m not about to claim any ground-breaking revelations here, and I’m not operating under the delusion that everyone will agree with me. But as I no longer consider myself a “parent of young children,” there are a few things that have become clear to me.
- Parenting teenagers is No Joke. Sometimes I am as tired as if I still had toddlers in the house. And sometimes I take just as many naps. (And teaching them to drive is quite possibly The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done.)
- I may have passed the age where I would get carded at the liquor store, but I never get tired of hearing, “You don’t look old enough to have a kid in college.” If you’re trying to get on my good side, that’s a fabulous compliment to start with.
- My “Give a Shit” is broken. I think it has been broken for quite awhile now. It was definitely broken by the time child number three came along. It’s just one of the many reasons I decided to take up tap dancing four years ago, amid the outcries from my then tween and teen daughters: “You’re going to do WHAT?! MOM! You aren’t going to get on stage are you??” I’m totally past the point of caring what anyone thinks of me. And I’m not doing it to impress anyone.
- It’s never too late to try something new. First it was tap, this year it’s jazz (I’m still tapping, in case you’re wondering). It’s good for your brain to continuously learn new things. Besides, it’s fun! (and see #3)
- Never underestimate the power of stories. Read. Read a variety of things. And keep reading. Even if it takes you 6 months to finish a book. This year I’ve read an autobiography about a South Viet Namese soldier, a trashy novel by Carl Hiaasen, an historical fiction, a mystery, two novels based on recommendations from Youngest Son (re-reading A Wrinkle in Time, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), a tear-jerker from Lisa Genova (Every Note Played), and am currently enjoying Gentlemen and Players, a required summer reading that Middle Daughter despised. My challenge for this year is Crime and Punishment, and it might just be that. Considering it took me 8 months to finish Anna Karenina, I have my work cut out for me.
- More than ever, I appreciate my own upbringing; no video games, and sitting down to dinner together almost every night.
- It is possible to find a genre of music that everyone in the family can listen to together and enjoy, if you try hard enough. For us, it’s Fleetwood Mac. For awhile, I thought as my kids got older, they didn’t need me as much. That’s never an excuse to stop trying. We should never stop trying to connect with each other. (Which would be why I know an inordinate amount of information about Fortnight: the Cube, and how It moves, and how it just turned Loot Lake into a giant purple bouncy mass… Don’t ask.)
- Do the zip line with your kids. Or without. You won’t regret it.
- If you don’t use it, you lose it. This was painfully evident to me during our week in Montreal, when I tried to dig deep and retrieve something, ANYTHING, from my five years of classroom/academic French. Also, Algebra. Sorry, Middle Daughter. You’re on your own this year. Please don’t ask me how to find the slope again.
- I forget things, and I make mistakes, and I laugh at myself. And I try to point this out to my kids on a daily basis, if they haven’t already beaten me up… I mean, beaten me to it.
- I have Zero Patience for anyone who tries to force their beliefs on me, or anyone else. Let’s Be Respectful. Live and Let Live. And Be Kind. It is entirely possible to have your own strong convictions, and do all of this. Every day.
- Every once in awhile it is worth it to get up early and watch the sunrise from somewhere with a good view. Don’t bring any music. Just let your brain be quiet. Don’t be afraid of silence.
- Random acts of Kindness really are good for the soul. It’s not just a trendy bumper sticker. Compliment someone, hold the door, thank a Veteran, buy a stranger coffee at the drive-thru. And don’t do it because someone will see you doing it.
- It’s really important to Stretch… your muscles and your mind. When you think you’ve done enough, do more. Because you haven’t done enough.
- Be Grateful. Every. Single. Day.