Upon Turning 38 (And having a babysitter so I could write this.)

Twenty years ago today I turned eighteen. Now, that’s something. It was my first week at college. My New Student Orientation group took me out to dinner at Chili’s. I was a wearing a yellow and purple beanie and I was equally in love with my cute cheesy college and tortilla chips dipped in ranch dressing. Twenty years ago I stood on the padded Chili’s bench and let the table sing to me and me only. I loved it.

Twenty years ago. It’s just like all the annoying Hallmark cards always said. It goes too fast.

The night before last I held my baby throughout the night as he vomited every ten minutes. I whispered, “It’s okay. Mama’s here. I’ll always take care of you.” I told him he was brave every time I held his tiny body over the toilet. Every time he fell back against me, immediately asleep.

Then, after a night without sleep, I downed a cup of coffee and turned on the world’s best First Day of School Kids Bop music. I packed new backpacks and helped find missing pants. Sent them off to the terrifying world of new classrooms.

There’s a twenty year gap there between the girl dipping tortilla chips and the girl shushing her two year old in the night, telling her eldest that he is fun and interesting, just like fourth grade. And the gap between those years is deep and ravenous. Also, it’s sweet and small. I still love to stand on a bench and let the table sing me a song. I still love to eat tortilla chips, though I’ve given up on the ranch dressing. And Chili’s.

Here’s what I think I know, now that I’m 38:

  • If social media is too mean and you feel terrible about the shouting on it, it’s okay to stop hanging out there. Actually, I’d recommend it.

  • The world is a hard and scary place and we need each other to tell the truth.

  • As Ace has taught me, if you sing about the task in front of you it feels a lot easier to do it.

  • There is not as much time in a day as I used to think. So, sleeping is a good idea.

  • Also, exercise makes you happier.

  • Life is not what you accomplish, no matter how many “important” people say otherwise. It’s about hugging and playing.

  • I’m not perfect, so it’s not all going to get done. Especially email. (It took me a lot of therapy to learn that one. So if you’re still waiting for an email from me, that’s why.)

  • Raising kids is not about constructing something from the ground up using raw materials. It’s about growing a garden: surprising, hard, beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking. And rarely what you planned for. (See The Carpenter and the Gardener, which I’m currently reading.)

  • Hats are cute and they keep you from getting wrinkles.

  • Wrinkles are sometimes cute too.

  • There is not a perfect body. There is just the body you have.

  • God is not all air and mist. God’s in the flesh and making Godself visible through all the pain and goodness. The question is whether or not I’m paying attention.

  • Leading is hard. Making decisions is hard. Following Jesus is hard.

  • Early childhood specialists are the best people in the world. So are speech, physical, occupational, and feeding therapists.

  • The little rituals are the heart of a marriage. Our six am coffee dates are my favorite part of the day.

  • Birthdays should be celebrated every time, because nothing is guaranteed and being alive is a beautiful thing.