Among the decor in my almost 40-year-old crown is this little jem: If you google “nipple trauma from breastfeeding,” my post entitled Nipple Trauma and Healing is number three in the search results.
Not too shabby for a little mommy-blog, if I do say so myself.
When I was a journal-happy teenager, I imagined growing up to be a famous novelist. I was going to write the next great Gone With the Wind. I practiced posing in front of my mirror for photos that would grace the cover of my books.
Well, that obviously did not come to pass, as time has all but burried me under the thick, dusty, bedraggled mantle of social work. But at least I have a post on a topic that is important to me (and apparently to many other nursing moms) coming up third in google search results.
Over the past year, I’ve been “taking stock” of my life, as I inched towards the big four oh. I kept thinking I would write some witty or poingnant post about turning forty, how I’ve met all my goals, or how I’ve never been to Paris in the spring, or how I’m being here now.
I obsessed over it so much I gave myself blogger’s block and didn’t write a word on the topic.
A 72 year old friend asked me why turning 40 is such a big deal to me.
It’s a good question.
I mean, why does this arbitrary number of revolutions around the sun have me feeling like I have to trade in all my funky clothes and sparkly makeup for frumpy sweater sets from Talbots and taupe eyeshadow?
I’m not sure if it has to do with my waning fertility, or the fact that maybe my life is half over, or if I feel like I haven’t done “enough” yet in my time on the planet. Maybe it is related to societal pressures and ideals.
Whatever the reason, I’ve learned some stuff, and I’ll probably continue learning. Here is a list of some real life advice from the practically forty-year-old author of the third most popular blog post on nipple trauma:
1. Wear what you like, even if it sparkles or is leopard print, and especially if it is sparkly leopard print. You are never too old for sparkles or leopard print; it is timeless and so are you.
2. Like who you are and don’t obsess about who you wish you were.
3. Speak your truth, but do it in a way that is kind.
4. Be kind.
5. Smoke a cigar, or don’t, they are disgusting, but it’s fun to say you did it.
6. After becoming a mom, there is no such thing as “me time” unless you are a millionaire and can afford a nanny and daily trips to a spa. It is better to just accept this fact and try to steal 63 extra seconds in the bathroom with the door locked when you can.
7. Recycle. I mean, duh.
8. Laugh in the face of disaster, and cry for joy at least once. Preferably in college.
9. Ask for help and accept help when it is offered.
10. Accept compliments with a simple “thank you,” and resist the urge to explain how you only wore your hair up like that because it was really greasy and you didn’t have the gumption to wash it that morning. No one needs to know that.
11. Live boldly and disobey rules, but know one thing for sure: Married men never leave their homes.
12. Love truly what you have rather than lusting after what you do not have.
13. Motherhood is amazing and well worth the trip. You will learn what it feels like to be willing to fight wild dogs off of your babies with your bare hands, but you will also learn that a lot of your job description simply involves the much less glamourous task of picking up used band-aides from all over the house.
14. Marry someone you love because you love them and they love you. All you need is love.
15. Write things down because it helps you remember. Write things down because it gives you something to go back to. Write things down because you love it and it helps you breathe.
16. Never clean your closet when you are angry.
17. Don’t quit breastfeeding on a bad day.
18. While we are talking about breastfeeding, nurse in public and don’t ever let anyone shame you into weaning your baby early for any reason.
19. Co-sleeping is great if you all feel comfortable about it and get sleep while doing it.
20. Buddha said you could look all over the world and never find anyone as worthy of love as yourself. Or something like that. True story.
21. The Dalai Lama said not to let the actions of others affect your inner peace. This is not always easy, but if you can practice it, it is pretty awesome.
22. Spending money on music can almost always be justified.
23. Don’t bother trying to have anything nice while the kids are little. Kids are messy, loud, chaotic little creatures and they get indelible finger, foot, and butt prints on just about everything.
24. DO bother getting comfortable with general disarray and confusion. Embrace it. It isn’t that bad. (Actually it is pretty rough, but once the Stockholm Syndrome settles in, you’ll assimilate. I promise.)
25. Mister Rogers is God.
26. Focus on the list of things that make you awesome as opposed to the list of things that make you suck.
27. It is completely normal for your children to enrage you to the point of despair and then melt your heart with tenderness in the space of four minutes and 37 seconds. Hang in there.
28. Do what you love. Do what fires passion inside of you. But if you can’t do that, do whatever you have to do to keep health insurance for yourself and your family because kids get lots of colds and flus in the winter and those copays rack up.
29. Jane Eyre can not be read too many times.
30. Try to laugh when your kids spill stuff instead of getting cross. And if they spill water, thank them. If your house is anything like mine, a spilled bottle or cup of water can only make your floor cleaner.
31. Make friends with your neurosis.
32. Get up in the night with your babies whenever they make a peep. They are little for so short a time. It won’t spoil them or sabotage their sleep training. You won’t believe how someday in the relatively near future you will lie in bed awake at night, longing to feel their sleepy, little body and how heavy and content it instantly becomes in your arms.
33. While you are feeling like a lunatic in the middle of the night with a sick/sad/scared/colicky/nursing/needy child remember that they use sleep deprivation as torture.
34. Sex is free. Sex is fun. Don’t forget about sex, even when you feel like a frumpy, frazzled mom. You know the cure for feeling frumpy? Sex.
35. Make time to sit and stare at a tree in all the different seasons of the year. This is time well spent. Being busy is way over-rated.
36. Cheese. On everything. Forever.
37. 40 is 40. It is not then new 30, or the old 50. It is another day and part of a life to live well. Sure, if you were a cave person you would have died seven years ago, so in that sense we are doing okay. But come on.
38. Be true to yourself. It is okay to not like the Beatles.
39. Never stop stretching. Losing your flexibility sucks.
40. All is well. All is well. All is well. (Someone told me that once.)
and one more for good luck:
Tomorrow is always another day.
Happy birthday to me. Thanks to everyone for sticking around with me on the way.
PS. Coconut oil cures just about anything.