In September I had the distinction of turning 43. I’m still on the younger half of the 40s, but I can’t help but reflect on the lessons of growing older as I celebrated another year around the sun.
Lesson One: You can’t give from an empty cup. If anything this year has taught me, or rather reinforced a lesson I thought I’d learned before, it’s that you can’t give from an empty cup. 2023 for me has been one challenge after draining challenge. I have found myself running on empty more than I care to admit, yet still responsible for so much. I was short-tempered, exhausted, easy to trigger, and prone to losing it. As a mom of two littles, that’s not a good position to be in. Taking care of myself wasn’t selfish. Rather it was necessary so I could be a better mother, friend, business owner, wife, and more. I needed to acknowledge what I needed AND follow through on it. By giving myself permission to put me first, I equally gave myself permission to do and be better.
Lesson Two: True friendships are rare. Cherish them. I shared recently how I lost my best friend. She and I had been friends for close to 25 years… at 43, while not impossible, that’s not a friendship that is easily replaced. The contentment in being ourselves around each other, the lack of fear of being real and vulnerable, and the sense of completeness when together is something priceless. Whether we saw each other the day before or hadn’t seen each other in months, it was always like no time had passed and like it had been a lifetime. My sister of the heart. That’s not something you find every day.
Lesson Three: Making friends doesn’t happen by accident. I can remember telling my son when he was a teen that you have to be a friend to make a friend. In the last several years, I have taken this to heart. Actively seeking out new relationships in hopes of making friendship connections. But it is through intention and commitment to making the time and effort that I have grown those connections into friends.
Lesson Four: The most dreaded words I can hear right now… “I do it.” In May my youngest turned two and with it he embraced two to the fullest… every single stereotype of a two-year-old, he has made his own and then some. But for the momma who is always in a hurry, desperate for one thing in her house to stay clean after cleaning it for the 100th time, and wanting peace so badly she feels it in her bones, the phrase I fear the most is “I do it”. The phrase that means my toddler is determined to do something, most likely something beyond his skill set or age, on his own. And it is always paired with we are running late, it will cause an unreasonably category 5 mess or my saying no will cause the tantrum of all tantrums.
Lesson Five: Saying no is saying yes to something else… and that is okay. Boundaries have always been a struggle as someone who gives. I don’t want to hurt or have people go without, but this year has taught me fully the value of saying no. Saying yes to sleep when I say no to a cookie order that would overtax me. Saying yes to peace of mind when I say no to an invitation when all I want to do is sit and refuel. Saying yes to spending time with my littles when they want to be held a bit longer at night knowing they won’t be little long.
Lesson Six: Toddlers are the real boss of the house. As my son turned two this year, it’s been a constant reminder that a toddler is the real boss. After so long of being screamed at, you just want peace so you give the toddler the gummies. They are in charge.
Lesson Seven: Laundry and dishes are never done. I’m not sure if they multiply overnight or what but they are truly never-ending.
Lesson Eight: Acceptance and Agreement are not the same. Age has taught me this for sure, especially as my own beliefs have evolved over time. Because I can accept someone’s life choices, political beliefs, partner in life or religious beliefs, does not mean I agree with it for my own choices or life. If for the sake of the value they bring into my life, I can and do accept that it is their life path. The value of what they bring to my life - their uniqueness, their perspective, their personality - is worth more than me being right.
Lesson Nine: Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. No one has lived a life where they have not needed forgiveness nor been in need of forgiving another. Holding on to the resentment and anger only festers in my soul I have found. Forgiving someone has not necessarily impacted the person I’m forgiving, but it always impacts me. By forgiving someone their transgression, I’m giving myself permission to let go of the pain that their action caused. Forgiveness is about me finding peace within myself and allowing myself to heal.
Lesson Ten: It’s okay to not be okay. And the biggest lesson I have learned in the last 365 days… is admitting that you are not okay, is not a weakness but rather a position of strength. It’s recognizing that I’m not in balance and by acknowledging it, I’m giving myself permission to seek the help I need. No one is 100% one hundred percent of the time. It’s normal to have moments or even seasons where we are not okay. But it’s not okay to bury it, giving it power over us. Being okay with not being okay… and working through that season of not being okay… is actually normal.
I’m not sure what 43 has in store for me but I know this much, I have many many many more lessons ahead… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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