I’m a firm believer that you are only as old as you feel, and that the number that is your age doesn’t really mean anything unless you want to drive a car, buy some beer or get a discount on show tickets. I love this saying –
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
However, with my birthday quickly approaching and the odometer of my life about to click over another digit, I’ve recently been reflecting, reminiscing and frankly, getting a little somber at the number that is staring me in the face (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I have recently learned that I’ve started to lose hearing at high frequencies, which disturbs me more than a little but that my wonderful family finds absolutely hilarious – especially when they “talk” to each other around me by only moving their lips).
I’ll happily welcome the extra year as opposed to the alternative, and truly am looking forward to the years and experiences ahead, but for some reason I’ve spent a whole lot of time lately thinking of the sum of the years…and life…that have already flown past.
There’s a song I’ve liked for awhile by Brad Paisley (haters go ahead and skip this part, but you lose because it’s a sweet song) called “Letter to Me.” It’s the lyrics I love –
For a few years, every time I’ve listened to this song, I think about how fantastic it would be to be able to pull this off – kind of like “Back to the Future” but without the DeLorean (we might still need that flux capacitor, however).
I don’t have many complaints from my teenage years. Oh, there was a mind-blowingly traumatic move from Washington to Arizona the summer between my freshman and sophomore years (no need to worry. I adjusted…eventually), the fact that I spent tenth – twelfth grades fervently wishing that a boy would notice me (but was way too terrified to put myself out there), and there was that whole leggings and maternity sweater phase of ’86, but other than that I think I made it through relatively unscathed.
But still. Now that I’m on the other side of all these years and experiences, and what with another birthday literally hours away, I figure it is time to fill that scrunchie wearing, pom-pom wielding, Erasure loving, innocent little girl in on a few things (thanks, Brad).
It’s me (you? Crap, I’m already confusing myself…yourself?).
I know that thinking of 10 years (not to mention 20 or 25) from now seems ridiculously distant and you can hardly do more than imagine and dream of what might be (and no, I’m not writing this from a Jetson-esk futuristic home or from a flying car…but we do have some pretty kick-ass stuff that will blow. your. mind.) but I’m here to tell you a few things that might just come in handy on the journey you are about to embark on.
Before you know it you will be fortysomething (and sorry, but as much as you hoped, during those thirtysomething years you did not move to Philadelphia, marry an handsome suspender-wearing architect and have a cute baby girl, fix-up a ramshackle but fabulous house and advise/feed/comfort various friends/relatives/co-workers), your kids will be well on their way to being grown up and independent, and you will be left to record/vent/share your inner dialogue (some things don’t change) with the mildly interested public on a blog (don’t even ask).
So here’s some pieces of advice – a “heads up” if you will – for you…er…me:
* Be careful what you wish for in the romance department. Not all boys who seem like princes actually own crowns.
However, when you see that cute dark haired boy in the yellow Polo shirt walking toward you freshman year on fraternity row, and your friend introduces you and you have your very first conversation with him, take the time to fully soak in and remember every detail of that moment (trust me).
And when he dumps you after your first date because you are “too nice” and you cry because you are so sick of being “too nice” (whatever that means), don’t change. He’ll come crawling back a year later because he’s a smart boy and will tell you he realizes that “nice” girls are hard to find. He’ll make you laugh harder than anyone ever has, will love every bit of you and treat you like a queen every day from there on out, and you will thank your lucky stars you gave him a second chance (oh, and take a good look at that luscious Erik Estrada hair. It won’t always look like that).
* There will be about a 2 or 3 year span in the early 90’s where you think you look awesome in overalls (long, short, denim, corduroy…doesn’t matter). You do not.
* Ditto for large hair bows and chambray shirts embroidered with Looney-Tunes characters.
* Travel more before you have kids. You can afford it. Find a way.
* Your boobs have really stopped growing. That’s it. All there is.
* When your doctor tells you that you are having bladder control issues for several days in your 27th week of pregnancy, do not listen to him. Do NOT get in that bathtub, take that walk, or go shopping. Get in the car and go directly to the hospital.
…but in case you don’t listen to that….
* When your impossibly tiny and fragile baby girl is born 11 weeks early, and you are terrified and sad and confused and worried beyond belief at all the procedures she has to go through and all the setbacks she has, let me tell you that everything turns out okay. She grows strong and healthy and funny and wise and caring and smart and beautiful.
And get used to it, because you will go through it all again 5 years later (but do not refuse to indulge in all the chocolate shakes and French fries and Butterfingers you are craving in the first trimester yet pass up because you are worried about weight gain. You’ll end up on hospital bedrest for weeks and weeks anyway and all the concerns about the extra pounds will take a backseat – like back of the bus seat – to the multitude of other things you will be worrying about).
But again, it will all be okay. This new tiny daughter will overcome her adversities, grow healthy and strong, and will add even more sunshine and laughter and happiness to your already wonderful little family.
* In college, start an online photo book where people can post information and photos about themselves and connect with other friends across the country. Make a call. Learn how to do it. Quickly.
* You will raise your family in MINNESOTA. Stop crying.
* Reconnect with your father – soon – before it is too late. You’ll save yourself many, many days of sadness and regret.
* When your family goes to Disneyworld and the little one starts throwing up, ABORT the trip, cut your losses and GET HOME ASAP. It is not an isolated incident. Sure, the Grand Floridian has nice bathrooms in their rooms, but trust me, you will not want to spend 8 hours in there in a fetal position on the floor (nor will your other daughter).
* 35 is not old. It’s not. Stop arguing with me.
* When you graduate high school, then college, then move away from Arizona, hug your family and friends extra tight. You won’t ever get back to those times and experiences and the wonderfully mundane routine of the daily connections.
So here’s the deal in a nutshell –
You will not marry Simon LeBon (it’s okay, he gets a little bloated looking), become the next Mary Hart, or attend the Academy Awards (yet), but the family and life you will have will be more incredible and fulfilling than anything I know that you are hoping for. As you continue on through these teenage years, and people keep telling you that these are the best years of your life, I’m here to tell you that they are lying.
To borrow a line from a song that you’ll listen to one day, I can tell you with certainty –
“…have no fear, these are nowhere near the best years of your life.”
So stop worrying so much..buckle up…and enjoy every minute of the ride.
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