On that note, here are 35 short musings on what I know, now that I’m halfway to five years past collecting social security. If you’ve got some to add, I’d love to hear them.
1) I might be halfway to 70, but I kind of like looking at my age this way. It makes me feel like there is a lot of time left to get stuff done. Like figure out who I am, where I’m going, what I want to be when I grow up. Or, when I’m 70.
2) The Torah teaches that old age is a virtue and that the older we get, the wiser. So, that’s good.
3) Abraham supposedly lived until age 175 and Moses made it to 120 and both didn’t do the big stuff of their lives until they were quite old. Similarly, both of my parents reinvented their careers after age 50. This idea of the possibility of transformation–be it professional or personal–during late middle age, makes me feel optimistic and even excited about getting older.
4) In order to get all that stuff done, I’m going to need coffee. I don’t ever want to give up drinking coffee no matter how many new studies report on its potential risks.
5) My body has changed. Those of you who are also 35 and have also had children, you hear me. But man! Whose hips are these? I do not recognize them.
6) My parents are human, with their own inner lives, fears, hopes, and needs. I re-learn this regularly but the older I get the more clearly I see them. This is very hard but ultimately, very useful.
7) Friendships are work. They weren’t so in college, or for several years after, when all it took to keep a friendship afloat was a common workplace or shared happy-hour drink. Now we’re all tired and busy. Mostly, the work that friendship requires is worth it. When it’s not, its better to let it gently fall away. (Those that require the least amount of work often yield the biggest rewards.)
8) I am so happy I got wise and stopped pursuing the tortured writer/musician/ artist. Dodged many bullets there.
9) I now understand that the part of myself that is earnest–dare I say sentimental–is not meant to be hidden or ashamed. Snark, in writing or in life, can be fun and entertaining, but give me an open, honest person over a snarky, cynical one anytime.
10) I want to eat dessert every night. I don’t want to ever be on a diet that doesn’t allow me to eat dessert, nor do I ever want to deny my daughters that same simple pleasure.
11) I am far more compassionate now than I was 10 years ago and I have to assume I’ll be even more compassionate 10 years down the line. I think life’s easier when you can empathize with people.
12) I am still too volatile, sensitive, and insecure. I just hope that by 70 I’ll be less of all those things.
13) Flip-flops are bad for my feet.
14) Ballet flats are bad for my feet.
15) More than two glasses of wine, at this point, always winds up being just a bit too much.
16) Suntans are not cool.
17) My children’s health cannot be taken for granted. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they are miracles.
18) But my children are exhausting miracles. They often suck all of my optimism away by just whining for a few hours (minutes). I lose my cool; I say things to my husband at 3 a.m. that I regret moments later. Having kids is hard work and that is a grossly inadequate description. (I am sitting on my hands to stop myself from following that up with another statement about how great my kids are and how much I love them. Because at 35 it’s time to realize that I am only in competition with myself.)
19) I don’t know whether we’ll have more children. If we do, I might have an amino, epidural, scheduled C-section, and supplement my breast milk with formula. I might sleep train my kid by letting her cry it out and I will probably leave her with a babysitter early on. I am a loving mother and none of this is mutually exclusive of that.
20) Most cutely dressed and hip-looking young people I see on the street are, in fact, younger than me. It has taken me a long, long time to understand this.
21) I do not wish to be back in my twenties, even if it meant I would be more cutely dressed, more hip looking, and less tired.
22) Speaking have tired, there are a few wrinkles on my face (two on my forehead, two at the side of my mouth) that appear to be here for the long haul. I should accept them and stop making funny faces in the mirror, hoping they’ll disappear.
23) Similarly: grey hairs.
24) My relationships with Judaism and Israel are far more confused than they were 10 or 15 years ago because now those relationships are determined at least in part by my role as a parent. I’d like to spend some time over the next few years figuring out where I stand as a Jew and as a supporter of the State of Israel, so that I can impart a clear-ish vision to my kids.
25) Laughter is not just the best medicine, it’s the best, period. When both kids have pooped in their pants and we’re stuck in traffic on the LIE and they’re screaming and things look bleak, it REALLY helps if someone makes a joke. An adult joke. Preferably using expletives. Try it. It’s really cathartic.
26) Incidentally, if you’re sick of your kids’ bedtime stories, and they’re young enough not to notice, try substituting in some curse words while you read aloud (this is even more fun if you have at least one adult in the audience).
27) I am 100% comfortable with who I am as a daughter and a sister. I feel really proud of these relationships.
28) I am still working out who I am as a wife and as a mother. I hope that by 70, I’ll be able to say that I am 100% comfortable with who I am in these relationships, too (and much sooner, at that).
29) No one gets off scot-free. Everyone is battling something.
30) Which is why it’s so helpful to commiserate. Bitching about our kids’ sleeping habits might not improve said habits, but it sure makes you feel less dreadful after a bad night.
31) I cannot overstate the importance of feeling intellectually engaged for at least some portion of every day.
32) That said I occasionally tune in to Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
33) When I turned 25, I threw myself a big party in a bar in Manhattan. Lots of friends and family came. I drank multiple vodka lemonades and went home in the wee hours. I think I also wore a paper crown.
34) Today, I’ll hopefully have time for a shower before I meet my husband for a birthday dinner near home. We’ll probably be in bed by 11.
35) I know that on many, many levels, I am quite lucky.