Lately I’ve been thinking about how wise I’ve become.
If you haven’t snort laughed yet, you should. I would never have referred to myself as the wise type.
But, now that I’m in my 50’s (God, how old that sounds), I am a whole lot wiser than I was in my 30’s and 40’s.
Here’s a list of the 10 things I now know in my 50’s that I wish I could tell my 30 year old self:
1. Hold your kids all the time when they’re babies.
Snuggle with them and hold them all the time. When my kids were babies, I would bemoan the fact that I had to constantly hold them or they’d cry. It was hard for someone used to getting a lot done to walk around the house all day, jiggling a baby in her arms or on her shoulder. Once they get to be about 8 years old, all that hugging and snuggling is going to disappear as they become more and more independent. So relish it while you can. And once they’re teens, you’re lucky to get a grunt as a reply when you say, “Honey, I love you,” and the hugs are few and far between, so embrace it while you can.
2. Stop worrying about how the kids are going to turn out, they’re going to be fine.
That advice your friend gave you about how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? It’s true. They’ll be a lot like you and your husband, so just try and set a good example. Just because you did all those terrible things when you were their age doesn’t mean they’ll do the same. Just because you didn’t raise them perfectly doesn’t mean they’re not going to turn out to be fully rounded adults. They will, trust in them and in yourself.
3. Don’t worry so much about your career.
Figure out what you want to do, do it well and let it fall into place. Put more focus on raising the kids than on your job and things will balance out. Once you have kids, the job will just take off because as a mom, you’ll be so laser focused that you won’t have time for any nonsense and so will become hyper efficient and productive in order to get home so that you can take care of them. So stop obsessing about your career, it will all work out.
4. Stop worrying about money so much. You’ll have enough.
What’s the point of juggling working and kids if you’re not going to allow yourself to enjoy the rewards of that work? So put in that built-in pool, do the upgrades to the house, fix up the basement in to a playroom, create a home that your family can live happily and comfortably in now. Plus, you’ll probably wind up working past retirement anyway, after transitioning into a new career that you’ll have more passion for and which you’ll be perfectly happy to spend the next 10+ years doing, in order to make sure you have enough money to last until you’re 100 which is how long you’ll probably wind up living if your parent’s and in-laws are any example.
5. Go on more trips! Stop putting it off. Go do stuff.
See places, see things, take family vacations. Take the kids, make them go along with you on adventures. Take a lot of pictures to remind you of what you did together. Once the kids hit teen-dom, they’re not going to want to spend as much time with you guys, so take them when they’re young.
6. Stop obsessing about your weight.
Just eat relatively healthily and find clothes that suit you and showcase your body as it is, not as it will be when you lose those 5 pounds you’re always talking about. Nobody else cares, no one else thinks you need to lose weight but you, because they’re all so obsessed with their own weight that they don’t really notice yours. This is just how women are.
7. Spend a lot of time with your girlfriends.
And keep adding new ones into the mix at every new job, or at every new event in your life. Your women friends will always be there to listen and help you figure out whatever new issue you’re facing and will always tell you the truth (gently but firmly) when you need to hear it.
8. Find a good therapist early on, to help you work out all the crap you’re carrying around with you from childhood.
Find a good one and work on that shit! Believe me, that stuff is important, so deal with it, cry a lot, get it out of your system and move on. Don’t carry it around with you or you’ll wind up foisting it on your own kids, and they’ll end up repeating all the stupid things you did when you were in your 20’s and 30’s.
9. The whole college process? It’s not really as horrible as you thought it would be.
Let your kids take the lead. They’ll figure it out, that’s part of what the whole process is about. Remind them about key milestones a few times, but at the end of the day, let them know that this (one of the most important decisions of their lives) must come from them. And yes, it costs a bloody fortune, but somehow or other you’ll figure it out; between 529’s, savings, loans and just generally planning, you’ll wind up figuring out how to pay to get them through college.
10. There will come a day when you will have your independence back again.
The kids will eventually become potty trained, get on a sleep schedule, learn to tie their own shoes, learn to read and go to school by themselves. And then all of a sudden, they’ll be in high school which will fly by (just like all those other moms told you) and then they’ll be ready for college and you’ll have a lot of time on your hands.
And then you’ll be able to go on all those trips you wanted, and go out to dinner whenever you want and get all those massages. But you’ll miss those kids terribly, so enjoy them fully while they’re still here.
What about you? What are the 10 things you wish you could tell your younger self?