I’m standing on 40’s front stoop, poised to ring the bell, and it’s freaking me out a bit. It’s not that I don’t like who I am. It’s not even that I feel old.
I think it’s that I remember my mom’s 40th birthday, the one for which I threw a surprise party, complete with an “Oh Crap, Jan’s 40” toilet bowl cake. A more brash person might have used a different word, but hey, I’ve never been the cussing type.
That birthday party was the first time in my life I thought, Mom is getting older. Now, I’m right where Mom was then, and I still feel like I should be 25. A look at the mirror—or my children—tells me otherwise. I have no interest in going back to 25 and doing it all over again, but I wouldn’t mind a coffee date with 25-year-old me to share the following pieces of wisdom and advice:
1. Stop coloring your hair for fun. Stop it, now. Those naturally dark brown locks of yours will decide to turn to salt and pepper long before their time. You will be coloring your mostly gray hair every four weeks by the time you hit 40 simply to keep from looking 55. It will not be fun anymore. Nope. Not fun at all.
2. Get out of your comfort zone. When your rugged, outdoorsman husband requests you go on a weekend backpacking trip with him, don’t put him off. Readily agree to this strange proposal. Because in one weekend of hiking a narrow dirt trail, filtering drinking water from rivers and peeing in the great outdoors, you will learn that you are capable of far more than you thought possible. Plus, it will lead to some unforgettable family adventures with your three sons down the road.
3. You will sleep again. You have little babies now, but you will get some good years in there when they will go to bed early and sleep long through the night. You will have evenings of peace and quiet followed by full nights of sleep on a regular basis. Enjoy those years. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Because those little cuties will hit puberty, and in addition to growing hair in their armpits, they will discover the joy of staying up late to watch NBA games and play Xbox. You will find yourself hitting the pillow so much later than you prefer.
4. You will have sex again, too. It’s kind of a chore when you are rearing babies, but the good-sleep years I have mentioned are the prime time to invest in this part of your marriage. When your kids are asleep at 8 p.m., you actually have enough energy for this activity. Take advantage of it. Because, as I said earlier, when they get older, they are awake all the time. At that point, you have three choices: 1) Don’t have sex; 2) add it to your chore list, and do it quickly and quietly; or 3) be creative. For instance, you and your husband could opt out of Sunday school for a year or two, giving you a weekly kid-free hour of time at home alone.
5. Listen to your baby boy sing. You will be blessed with the most adorable third child who wakes you up in the middle of the night with “I can’t sleep so I’m going to make up lyrics and sing them really loud” songs. Do not be annoyed by this strange habit. Don’t put plugs in your ears. And don’t pull your pillow over your head. Instead, grab that pillow, crawl out of bed, lie down by his door and listen. I’m telling you, this is precious stuff. And it will not last. He will grow up. And his love of sweet songs will be replaced by his ability to belch the ABCs, which is cute in its own weird sort of way, but it doesn’t really replace the singing.
So there it is. Some wisdom I would like to impart on my younger self. I’m not sure me-at-25 would listen, but I’d sure like to give it a try.