The end of a year is always an opportune time to remember the best moments of the previous twelve months. Revisit your goals. Reflect on lessons learned (because you’re never too old to learn, right?). So today I’m going to take some time to think about some of the things I learned this year — and how I can use those lessons to make 2019 even better.
1. I do have time to write.
As a stay at home mom of two preschoolers, I had let myself believe that I didn’t have time to pursue my passion of writing. But over the past few months, I’ve realized that was only an excuse. Do I have kids to take care of, a house to clean, groceries to buy, and bills to pay? Yes. But I conveniently also had time for browsing social media, watching all the TV shows I recorded, and of course, the ever popular procrastination. If I ever want to see my name on a bookstore shelf one day, I have to choose what I do with my time wisely. Which means less playing on my phone in the new year, and more tackling the blank page on my computer screen.
2. Threenagers are a real thing.
My kids are very close in age — my oldest daughter turned four at the end of summer, and my youngest turned three just a couple of months later. Which means that, lucky me, I pretty much get to parent a three-year old for two straight years. Now don’t get me wrong, some of the things about that age are awesome. They can verbalize what they want a lot better, making it much easier to understand if they’re asking for a snack or a snake. They go from essentially being babies to becoming independent, adorable little people with their own personalities.
And hence where the problem lies as well. Those independent little people are busy figuring out who they are and have no time for rules or being told what to do. They have an opinion and will stop at nothing to share it. They are loud, bossy, stubborn, and sassy. My patience has waned so I think the only way I’ll survive this phase with my sanity intact is with a good sense of humor and to think of it as early preparation for their teenage years. And maybe help myself to a glass of wine as my angelic-looking child stomps her foot and grunts no for the hundredth time.
3. The Grand Canyon is truly amazing. I might be a little late to the game on this one. But the first time I visited the Grand Canyon was on a family road trip when I was 15 and on a scale of 1-10, my interest level at the time was about a two. Apparently I had better things to do as a teenager, like listen to my Walkman and miss my then-boyfriend.
But my second visit was just a few months ago, on a 5-year anniversary trip to Arizona with my husband. As we walked along the upper rim, I couldn’t get over my sense of awe at the breathtaking view. With my newfound appreciation for the natural beauty this world has to offer, I want to travel more and expose my children to new places. The idea of going on a plane with young kids doesn’t exactly appeal to my husband and I right now, but there are plenty of national parks and other beautiful habitats in the state that we can start working our way through. And who knows, maybe my kids will have a better appreciation for “just a hole in the ground” by the time they are teens than I did.
4. Material stuff is not important. I’ve always had a hard time getting rid of stuff. It’s not that I liked clutter, but I just couldn’t help the feeling that I might need or want the object one day. Thankfully I’ve started to let go of that idea. I give a lot of the credit to my husband who has no problem throwing things away, but also to my kids who love to leave toys all over the house. I found myself getting anxious from the piles of books, dolls, plastic necklaces, princess dresses, cups, crayons, and blocks everywhere I looked.
I don’t want the contents of my house to rival a toy store, nor do I think my kids need a lot of toys. Obviously as a writer, I believe using one’s imagination is extremely important — and hard to do when you’re overstimulated by toys that light up and sing and dance and transform and follow commands and shoot foam darts. So I started periodically going through the toys in the house and getting rid of ones they have outgrown or have multiples of (I sell, donate, or throw they away depending on the condition).
I know it’s not all about toys either. I also get rid of clothes, jewelry, home decor, knick-knacks, and whatever else is not being used or enjoyed by us anymore. And while I’m on the track to becoming more of a minimalist, I still have a long ways to go. So this coming year, I plan on decluttering on a more regular basis, and cutting back on new purchases. Maybe I can even put the money I save towards traveling more like I talked about above. Win win.
5. Getting older isn’t (that) bad. Turning 30 was rough (to be honest, even turning 25 was a hard pill to swallow). But now that I’m heading into my mid-30’s, I’ve learned that getting older isn’t so bad. Sure I can’t stay up late anymore, and hangovers are much easier to get and much harder to get rid of, and my hips are sore when I wake up in the morning, and… wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, but besides all that (and the fact that my memory isn’t what it used to be), getting older isn’t as bad as I expected.
I rarely get carded anymore, saving valuable seconds in the checkout line. Instead of randomly running into old friends at bars, I now run into them at kids’ parties and Target. Other people’s opinions of me don’t seem to matter as much as they used to. And I feel like in your thirties is when you really figure out who your true friends are.
The other day I got together with a few of my long-time girlfriends for brunch and we found ourselves talking about things like wills and trusts, real estate, changing your last name once married, and child custody issues. We ended up laughing over our grown-up conversations. But when you think about it, aren’t conversations about things that matter so much more important than which bar is the best for dancing or how much of your paycheck was blown on a shopping spree or what Netflix show you’re currently binge-watching? Getting older is best when you have great people getting their first gray hairs right alongside you. So in 2019, I plan to appreciate the opportunity to be on this planet another year along with my loved ones.
So tell me, what did you learn this year? And how will you use the lessons in the future?