1. Being supermom
What a bullshitty myth that whole deal is. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can raise spunky, sassy teenagers and emerge from those years not a raging alcoholic or not having shipped them to military school, you automatically qualify as supermom.
I do my best, and some days that’s better than others. I lose my temper. I have nights where popcorn qualifies as dinner. I’ll say ‘fuck homework’ if the assignment looks like a ridiculous waste of time. If at the end of the day my kids know that momma has their back and that they are secure knowing that the are loved deeply and fully, that’s good enough for me.
In what seems like a past life, I used to collect designer furniture. I now can barely type that sentence without simultaneously cringing and laughing. I’ve been purged of everything I own twice in my life. Once, on purpose when I wanted to destroy every trace of my suburban Michigan soccer mom life and I sold or gave away everything and hopped on a plane to Argentina. The second time was from the vengeful ex-husband who thought he could hurt me by making sure I had nothing. He was wrong.
I actually like having next to nothing. It’s liberating. And the George Nelson furniture collection wouldn’t exactly go with my current cozy little adobe hut house in the Andes, anyway.
3. People who are all talk
You want to hang out? Call me or swing by instead always saying how we should hang out. You really, really want to visit me in Argentina? Make it a priority and buy a plane ticket. You hate your job and want to quit? Frickin’ do it already.
4. Being alone when I’m older
Yeah, it might suck. It would probably be a little sad at times. But I’m not going to enter into a relationship with the hopes that doing so would save me from being alone when I’m older. Who knows if I’ll make it into my 40s? Also, I look back at how much I have learned and grown in the last 20 years. If that’s any measurement, by the time I’m in my 70s I’m going to be one badass, independent little thing anyway, rocking life harder than ever whether I’m alone or not.
5. Being afraid to move on
I’ve learned that when something’s over, it’s best to let it go. It’s kind of like picking a pretty bouquet of wildflowers and then trying to revive them by refilling the vase of water after they die. They are done. And that’s okay. Enjoy things while they last and let them go. Other beautiful things are to come, and will come more quickly the more I can free up energetic space in my life.
6. Engaging in someone else’s drama
“Not my circus, not my monkeys” is a pretty decent mantra, I’ve found. You want to go be all crazy, and not like ‘good crazy’? Have fun with that. Alone. I’ll listen, to a point, but will stay very clear on the fact that this is your problem and that it’s your responsibility to resolve it. And if you are engaging in drama just for drama’s sake, I’ve got zero tolerance. Goodbye.
7. Rigid vegetarianism
Rigid anything, for that matter. Life in my 30s has proven to be more about the grey areas than just black and white. I used to be so fanatical with food. My kids when they were younger never touched white sugar, they thought that wheatgrass popsicles were as good as it got, and toasted hemp seeds were ‘yummy magic sprinkles’ that they got as a treat. I would freak if anyone tried to give them processed anything.
I’ve learned that what traction I gained towards physical health was lost in mental health. While good intentioned, my tense relationship with food was no better than that of a controlling anorexic. Now I strive for balance, physical, mental and emotional. I eat white bread every once in a while, but I try to bake it with as much love as possible. I see the nasty vending machine food that the neighbor girl hands me as an offering of friendship. Eating it with that appreciation and awareness will more than balance out the effect of a few grams of sugar. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
8. Fashion trends
I like what I like and have the confidence to rock that. I’ll always prefer belted up, ripped up, well-loved jeans borrowed from a guy friend than I will skinny jeans riding up my ass. I’m convinced flip flops are almost always appropriate footwear (and those who don’t agree should at least be happy I have shoes on at all). I was putting feathers in my hair before feathers got cool for a hot minute, and will probably still be throwing feathers in my hair thirty years from now. Anyone who doesn’t like it, no worries. I wasn’t doing it to try to please them anyway. I’m happy knowing that most of my wardrobe comes with a back story a little more interesting than “I went to the mall and got this trendy t-shirt at Forever 21”.
9. Whether an ex has moved on
In fact, now I’m genuinely glad when they do. It didn’t work between us for a reason. And we also got together originally for a reason — because we liked each other. I’ve learned to keep it simple. I now remember why I liked him in the first place while staying conscientious about the fact that someone else is probably much better for him that I could have been.
10. The status symbol that is a college degree
Man, I was caught up in that whole education scene back in the day. I got my degree. I don’t exactly regret it, but I also have the hindsight to see that most of my education that still means something to me came from somewhere off campus. I wanted to learn black and white photography, so I tracked down contact info for one of the top photographers in the world and went and hung out with him in his darkroom. I wanted to be fluent in Spanish, so I moved to Argentina. That solved that pretty quickly. I’ve learned that education is a personal responsibility that doesn’t stop after getting that degree. Opportunities to learn something new are everywhere, whether in a conversation with a rowdy 5-year-old, the hipster barista, or a stuffy professor.
11. Traditional relationships
I married at 22. Overachiever me was a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids by the time I was 26. I went above and beyond just a white picket fence — I had a tennis court, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and grounds so large that it would require more than one landscaper to keep it nice. Teal minivan, of course, Starbucks latte in the cupholder, back in time for dinner to be on the table. And while on the surface everything looked dandy, this ‘traditional’ relationship crashed and burned hard in my early 30s.
I think part of the reason was that we were trying to put a square peg in a round hole. I’m not cut out for traditional. Now I take every relationship and roll with what feels right for me and the other person at the time. Where I’m at one year might not look anything like what feels healthy and fulfilling the next year. I see nothing wrong with one night stands managed with honesty and respect. Never went there yet, but I see nothing wrong with polyamory if everyone involved is emotionally mature and committed to open communication. I’m open to possibly falling in love with a woman, a man much younger than myself, or someone with a bunch of their own kids. I have no intention of remarrying, but that doesn’t mean I am not open to living with someone and creating a life together. And, who knows? Putting that out there like that, I’ll probably find myself married someday. For now, I’m just trying to stay open to what feels right at the time and not try to force it to be something it is not meant to be, just because society tells me a relationship should look a certain way.
12. Travel ideals
I used to be such a travel snob. And by that, I don’t mean luxury travel. I thought travel stories had to almost be earned. You took a flight? How lazy and boring. I hitched through a snowstorm in the back of a pickup. You rented a cabin? Wasn’t as cool as my hammock I strung in the jungle. You rode chairlifts? Psssh, I went hardcore backcountry.
I got over my bitchy, judgmental self, thank God. If you are out there traveling in any way, more power to you. Have fun in whatever way fun is for you. I can now honestly enjoy a lunch of stale crackers on the side of the highway as much as fancy-pants food a gourmet restaurant. And while nothing will beat a starry night in my tent, I have no problem lounging in L’Occitane bubble baths at the Four Seasons.
13. Being liked by everyone
What fun would that be? I’m definitely not pushing boundaries if I can keep everyone happy.
14. Being a perfectionist
I’m a mess. A wonderful, chaotic work in progress. I make massive mistakes, sometimes over and over. I go big, so when I fall, I fall hard. And I get my ass back up, stronger than ever and hopefully having learned something.
In my 20s if someone asked how I was doing, I would robotically answer “Great, thanks! And you?” with a cheery smile on my face no matter how I really was doing. Now, be prepared for the truth if you ask me that question. “Actually, having a rough start to the day, but it’s looking up” might be more applicable. I feel like by me unapologetically embracing all parts of the human experience, it opens the door for others around me to be more genuine.
15. Where I’ll be at next year
Oh, the planning I used to waste so much time with. So much unpredictable shit has happened to me, things I never in a million years could have imagined. Now I don’t dare think I know what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone next year.
I’ve learned that if I can just listen to my heart, follow intuition, and not make fear-based decisions, I usually end up someplace much cooler than my original plan anyway.