Advice From Your 50-something Self

Thursday, January 1, 2009
I loved this post by Risa Green at MommyTrack'd so much I am going to re-print it in its entirety. It's the best New Year's resolution I've heard in a long time:

Happy Freakin' New Year

I am so glad that the holidays are over. I swear, if I have to look at one more ribbon or bow, I’ll hang myself with it. Now we can move on to bigger and better things, like the New Year, and what my resolution will be. I put a lot of thought into my New Year's resolutions. I don’t do lame ones that are destined to fail, like eat less sugar or clean out my closet. Instead, I try to find some behavior that is bringing me down somehow, and I resolve to change it. This year I’ve got a doozy. My resolution for 2009 is to pretend that I am twenty years older, and that I have been given a chance to go back in time and relive this period of my life. It’s a mouthful, I know. Eat less sugar would have been so much simpler. Obviously, I’m not doing so well with my 2007 New Years resolution, which was to try not to make things more complicated than they need to be.

But really, I think I’m on to something with this one. In twenty years, I’ll be fifty-five. My kids will be twenty-two and twenty-four. My husband will be fifty-four. If fifty-five year old me could go back and be thirty-five year old me again, I think that fifty-five year old me would a) be really psyched to not have so many wrinkles, and b) do some things a little differently. For example: my son is two years old. He whines a lot, and he’s going through a super clingy phase. He always wants me to pick him up, he’ll only let me put him to bed, and I can’t escape his room without a minimum of forty hugs before he’ll lie down in his crib. Now, this stuff drives me insane, especially when I’m starving and want to eat dinner and he’s yelling for me to come back into his room to give him his forty seventh hug, or when I’m trying to talk on the phone to my editor and he’s crying and screaming, “Uppy, mommy, uppy,” at the top of his lungs. But then I think about fifty-five year old me.

Fifty-five year old me would probably kill for the chance to pick up her son (who, let’s not forget, is now twenty-two), and have him wrap his arms around her neck and squeeze her so hard that she very nearly loses consciousness. Hell, with the way my back feels these days, fifty-five year old me would probably just be thrilled to not be an invalid anymore. And you see, when you think about it that way, you can’t help but be less annoyed by the kid, and more appreciative of just how sweet it is to have a little person love you so much that he just wants to be close to your face, even if it is at a particularly inconvenient time.

It works with other stuff, too. Sex, for example. When I think about fifty-five year old me – all menopausal and hot-flashy and saggy – not to mention her fifty-four year old husband – ahem – it makes me want to muster up the energy more often. Fifty-five year old me must long for the days when the only barrier to sex was being too tired. It works with my mother – she might be crazy now, but God only knows what she’ll be like in twenty years, if she’s even here at all. It even works with work. When I’m stressed out over a deadline, or late for a meeting because my daughter insisted on buttoning her sweater all by herself, I conjure fifty-five year old me, and she tells me to relax. One day, she whispers, when you’re an empty nester and your life is predictable, quiet and completely your own, you’ll miss this chaos. You’ll miss it terribly. I look at her, my eyebrow cocked with skepticism, and I ask her if she really means that. But she just smiles back, with her wrinkles and her grey hair that’s been colored blonde. Absolutely, she answers. Now have a happy freakin’ New Year, drink some champagne, and go have sex with your hot husband, because he’s not gonna’ look like this forever. And for God’s sake, don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Collagen doesn’t grow on trees, you know.

SJP said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Tani said...

Easier said than done but great advice nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Haha!...enjoyed that!

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