40 things I have (sort of) learned (in theory) by age 40 (part one)
1. Tweezing one’s eyebrows is the equivalent of plastic surgery, only it’s free and relatively painless. When I started tweezing around age 25, I went from being mildly ugly to being mildly attractive, just like that. Maybe that’s what Renee Zellwegger just did to her face.
2. It’s really not that different “when it’s your own kids,” except that your own kids will make your insanity their sole mission in life, while other kids will only drive you insane as a by-product of their efforts to drive their own parents insane.
3. If you think marriage is easy, you haven’t had children yet. And you might not want to.
4. If you don’t believe in psychiatric care, to include anti-depressants and other medicinal “helpers”, you haven’t had children yet.
5. If you believe in God...yeah, you’re gonna need him for real once you have children, but for sure you are going to doubt his goodness if not his very existence when you have a screaming infant chomping on your boobs around the clock.
6. If you have cankles, a wedge shoe is probably the best you can do, if you insist on wearing anything other than long trousers. Wedges are no miracle, but at least no one will run shrieking into the night at the sight of your legs.
7. You CAN have it all, if you are talking about skin ailments, that is. You CAN have both acne and wrinkles. It’s not fair, but it’s possible, and if you’re me, it’s a certainty.
8. Don’t judge. Like for real. Unless you can say with absolute certainty that you could do better given another person’s genetic makeup, experiences, intelligence, resources, influences, and abilities, you are not allowed to judge. But oh mylanta is it fun.
8. A lot of things that are the wrong things to do are really fun. Like judging people and feeling superior. And putting baby oil in your Jr. High roommate's shampoo. Super fun, super wrong.
9. People are gonna judge you. Whatever, let them have their fun and then judge them for judging. Judging self-righteous, sanctimonious people is like quadruple the fun. But it’s still wrong, FYI.
10. The people that judge you need your compassion. They most likely feel like crap on the inside. Try to be nice.
11. But they might also be sociopaths, and friends, I’ve learned the hard way that there are a lot of those out there, like 1 in 10 people, seriously, go google it. Most sociopaths don’t commit crimes, but they can still do a lot of damage. They probably need some compassion, too, since they may very well be missing a gene or two, but you really can’t risk getting close enough to be nice to them without getting destroyed. That’s why there is a God, and you are not it.
12. And be honest with yourself when you judge, you’re feeling pretty crappy about yourself, too. Stop judging and spend some time in therapy and/or prayer to figure out what is going on with your messed up self.
13. Because, honey, we are ALL messed up, and there is at least one lifetime of hard work to be done on each and every one of us. Get busy, there’s no time to be cleaning up all kinds of other messes. At least that is what I tell myself when I behold the disaster that is my house.
14. If you don’t think you’re a mess, and I don’t mean in a cutesy Bible-belt kind of way, I’m talking a real shagalabagala, which is a Swahili word that means exactly what it sounds like, then you are probably a catastrophe in there. Like Pigpen meets the hoarders on TLC. There's probably a colony of raccoons camped out under a lung and you have no freakin' idea because Suzy next door got a bad perm and it's just really distracting. So to speak.
15. If you are spending a lot of time dissecting other people’s failings and messes, you almost certainly don’t realize what a mess you are. If God is merciful, he’ll knock down that pride with a major fall. If he’s not, you’ll just end up without any real friends and not understand why.
16. As she approaches age 40, the female body has a major-life-awakening-dare-I-call-it-an-Oprah-Aha!-moment and discovers that what she has always wanted is to be fat and hairy. Except for on her head, there’s already way too much hair there. Just everywhere else. I’m not sure why; perhaps she’s really cold, especially with all that muscle loss that’s going on, or perhaps she’s just had enough of folks pawing at her for a couple of decades and she’d just like everyone to leave her alone now. If you don’t agree with her, well then prepare for some REALLY hard work, because she’s a stubborn b**ch, that female body.
17. Dude, vulnerability is where it’s at. Let it all hang out, let people know you are a mess. They will probably figure it out anyway. Some folks will judge you (see #9), some will get all awkwardish and become deeply interested in their shoes, but a lot of people will be comforted and encouraged that they are not the only ones with failings and imperfections, and they will respond in kind, and your relationships will be real and deep and many and awesome. Just AWESOME.
18. Plus, trying to get everyone to think you are awesome all the time is quite simply a lot of work, and I am just too lazy for that. I don't decorate for Halloween, I don't do the crafts with my kids, and I don't keep up appearances. Vulnerability, once you get used to it and once your ego gets worn out, is just so much more slothful. It probably doesn’t burn as many calories though, and that’s not going to help you with #16. You will be fat, but you will be happy.
19. Failure is a part of life, and it is most certainly, absolutely a part of parenting. Everything with parenting is a tenuous balance, and even if you are Mary Lou Retton, you are gonna fall down on your butt a lot, because whereas a regulation balance beam is like 4 inches, a parenting balance beam is like...well it’s really thin, and you are going down on that butt and if you are over 40 it will probably be a pretty fat butt on which you are going down. The earlier and more often you admit your failings to yourself and your children, the better your relationship will be with them when they are 30, because they will have discovered them by then for sure, either directly, perhaps on a therapist’s couch, or by subconsciously living them out, which is even worse.
20. Not all French people are unpleasant snobs. But that does need to be said, and that is saying something.
I’m not sure I’ve (sort of) learned (in theory) 40 things and I’m kind of tired. So I’m gonna have to get back to you. Maybe.