things i've learned by twenty nine


on march one, i turn twenty nine. it's no monumental birthday but i still like the sound of it. if only because i am inching that much closer to thirty. i may be the only person in the world looking forward to turning thirty. i have never quite understood why people are so scared of thirty. i feel as though i've been a thirty year old my entire life, only walking around impersonating a kid, a teenager, a college student, an adult. thirty is so officially adult.


but back to twenty nine.

i recall entering my twenty's without any real plan. i was optimistic- borderline idealistic if you can believe it- about my future and open to the power of possibility. never-- EVER-- would i have predicted the next nine years panning out the way that they have. as i reflect on the last nine years, i know without a doubt that everything happened the way that it was supposed to.

here is what i've learned:

drawing lines in the sand- distinguishing between you and me, them and us- is an overall shitty way to live, particularly so in motherhood. everyone finds their own path and their own way of doing things, their own way of living and their own set of priorities and values. while i accepted this long ago, i also choose to believe that we can still be supportive of one another in spite of those differences. you don't have to understand or agree with it, but, at the very least, you must respect it. 

the best relationships- marriage, friendships, familial, professional, etc.- take work. not work in the sense that you have to try really hard to make them work; but, rather, you have to put in genuine effort if you want it to be balanced, healthy, and mutually beneficial. you have to show up. and you have to try to give as much as you expect to receive.

how you take care of yourself is one of the few things in life you can control. while there is a time and a place to indulge and let loose, ones' best health is a result of balance, moderation in all things, and a connection to your mind and body. health is not determined by a dress size or your weight just as beauty is not limited to blonde hair and blue eyes. good health isn't established by a crash diet or juice cleanse, by depriving yourself of entire food groups, or by spending hours doing an exercise you hate. your best possible self is unique to you and is achieved by putting how you feel first.   

we all struggle. there is no way around that. some are petty annoyances, little tests the universe throws our way just to keep us on our toes and remind us of how much control we don't have. but there are others that shake you to your core-- the earth shattering and life altering kind of inner turmoil that prevents you from ever being the same, no matter the outcome. when you are deep in the muddy trenches of the latter, in your own personal hell fighting the war of your lifetime, you have two options: one) you can put your head down, say a prayer, and simply hope to survive. two) you load your holster, lace up your ass kickin' boots, give yourself a pep talk. then you charge that mother fucker head on with guns blazing, fighting like a bat outta hell.

you don't need to find a polite way to say exactly how you feel. you don't need to be an asshole, either.  

a lot of people have a lot of opinions. people think- and some even have the balls to tell you- that you should look a certain way and dress a certain way. they say you should behave and speak in a certain manner. they have opinions about how you should feed your kids, how you should raise them (if you want to raise them right, of course) and how you should discipline them, too. they have opinions about how you should eat and what exercise you should be doing and how often you should be doing it. they have opinions about your reproductive system and family planning and why you aren't *really* done having babies yet even though you just told them that your womb will maintain vacancy indefinitely. they even have opinions about who you should vote for and what religion you should believe in and why you're crazy if you believe in something different. well, they are really in for a shock when they realize that i couldn't give a flippin' fuck what they think. thanks but no thanks. in the words of kevin hart, do you, boo boo. do you.  

it's okay to be fresh out of fucks to give.

i have made decisions in the past that were very clearly the wrong ones to make. i've been careless with my body and heart. i've hurt people unintentionally and even intentionally. i've not always been kind to the people i love. i've not always been responsible and i've not always followed through. i've not always done my best or given it even half of the effort i know myself to be capable of. i've been lost and led down some bumpy roads by people i should've known better than to follow. i've used some very questionable (and likely impaired) judgement that i would not want to tell my mother about. i have made more mistakes than i know what to do with other than write a book about them. but you know what? i own it-- all of it-- and i regret not a single ounce of it. (some mistakes can be very much fun.) i can't change the past but i can make peace with it. 

when i was sixteen, i cut my biological father out of my life. he died on a mother's day seven years later without us ever speaking. every so often, a wave of guilt creeps up on me -- the one that tells me that i could've done more, made more of an effort to help him to stop drinking, even just loved him harder-- threatening to undo all of the work i've done to move past such a dark period in my life. what do i do? i tell that voice to shut the fuck up. and then i give myself this pep talk: you can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves. no matter how hard you try, there will come a time when you can do nothing but throw your hands in the air and give up. you can and will still love them but you will be done. you will have had enough. it's okay to walk away from a situation or a relationship whose burden has become too much to bear. throwing in the towel doesn't mean that you're giving up; it just means that there comes a time for self-preservation and that time is now.


Unknown said...

So good to hear you say that. And thank you for being so genuine, you are a hell of a mother and wife.

ohsweetjinna said...

it's okay to be fresh out of fucks to give. perfect.

VelmaRose said...

Happy almost birthday! And these are excellent lessons. You seem to have come a very, very long way to get to where you are.

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Anonymous said...

My first year in college also was hard as hell. And know, when I'm 28 and go to work almost every day I remember those times with smile on my face. The easiest period of my life.


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