As of Thursday, September 25th I’ve been on this earth four decades. That day usually gives me the opportunity to reflect. 40 seems so grown up. 40 is the deadline for having your life in order. Over the years I’ve looked to friends in their 40’s as my own personal Dalai Lama; full of wisdom and experts at living a life full of intent. But the closer I inched to this decade the more I began to realize it wasn’t that all of my Dalai Lama’s were given the wisdom gene much like someone born with red hair or freckles. Instead they embraced the “what is” and tossed the “never will be.” They didn’t, like I assumed, wake up on the first day of their 40th year with a brand new perspective that was delivered while they slept. They learned through trial and error, just like me and eventually my children will. Sometimes it takes a 40 something’s opinion or insight to make people realize that just because Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you. And while there’s plenty of mistakes in my future, I wanted to share a list of a few of the lessons I’ve learned as a helpful guide for my children.
1. Say “I’m sorry” more than “I’m right”
2. Material possessions add nothing to your life other than additional maintenance, higher insurance premiums and headaches spent worrying about paying for them. But it’s still ok to have them.
3. Failure is inevitable. You can’t avoid it. So when the big “F” word comes knocking, (and trust me sweet boy, it will) answer the door. Just don’t let it move in.
4. Try cooperation instead of competition. If you are constantly worried about what the “other guy” is doing, if your only focus is on keeping up with him, you may not discover your passion. So if you find yourself swimming in the same direction with the others, turn around and go your own way.
5. Your dad and I will always be there for you but that doesn’t necessarily mean financially. A motorcycle doesn’t seem as cool when you’re the one who pays for it.
6. On tattoos. I’m not going to tell you not to get one even though I’d rather you not. But if you do please, for the love of everything that is holy and good, do not get one at 18 just because you can. Put some thought into it. I promise your taste will change between the ages of 18 and 40. And if you chose a quote or scripture or whatever to be permanently etched on your body, use a language you can read and speak fluently or symbols you understand. Otherwise you may have to walk around for the rest of your life with the Native American symbol that means, “I’m a douchebag” instead of “Rock and Roll.”
7. It’s ok to be uncool. When you reach a certain age you realize that “cool” is someone who will tell you that you have a booger hanging on your nose or spinach in your teeth. The person who lets you walk around unaware then tells everyone (except you) about it isn’t cool. That’s a douchebag.
8. Goals are great but don’t get so fixated on reaching it. It’s hard to enjoy the completion of a goal when you’re already worried about the next goal.
9. Life is short. Not too long ago, you and your brother hated naps. Soon you’ll be driving and before I blink you’ll both be out of the house. Enjoy every damn moment. It goes to fast.
10. I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. No one does. I’ve given up on trying to be perfect (even God can’t keep a straight face at that comment). My goal is to love you and appreciate you for the amazing person you will be and appreciate the incredible person you already are.
There are many lessons left for me to learn and I’ll dole them out to you whether you want to hear them or not. That’s just the parent in me. I’m a giver.
…to be continued