I cast them before you. (I hope none of you are swine. None of you are swine, right?)
My arrival at age 30 has had me thinking of all the things that have changed since my last decade began. I feel much wiser than I did ten years ago. (I realize that's not difficult.) But indulge me. These are some things I've learned as I've gotten older. What, I wonder, will the next ten years teach me? Will you share some of yours as well?
1. The simple hamburgers are the best ones. Don't be lured by the siren song of the mushroom-chili-bleu-cheese-pastrami burger.
2. Don't ever assume someone is the same person they were ten years ago. Or five.
3. Cultivate a sympathetic expression which you can roll out over your true emotion (amusement) when your child runs into a wall face-first. Cultivate an interested expression which you can call upon during the long monologues of others.
4. Conscientious zeal is not the same thing as friendship.
5. If you don't want to have a birthday party for your child, you don't have to. Also you don't have to have cake. Dessert, yes. If you WANT to have a party, do yourself a favor and set the bar low. That means presents, food, and (maybe) a game. NO matching plate/napkin sets. No "take-home favors bags" No themed decorations. No individually wrapped chocolate-covered Thomas the Train fortune cookies with personalized birthday poems stamped in rainbow ink. Come on! These are your children we're talking about! Remember how excited they got when they found your old chapstick container under the couch?
6. The thing where someone says, "I can tell you in three words" and then says some other number of words than three? Not funny anymore.
7. Don't be snobby about Walmart. It makes you look mean-spirited. Be happy there's a place you can get your child a coat for $7.
8. Fall is beautiful. DO NOT let it go by without going on a drive to look at the leaves.
9. When baking quick breads, remembering to put a square of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan will save you inexpressible time and frustration.
10. Everyone acts in a way they feel makes sense for their own situation. Dismissing any actions you don't understand or agree with as "crazy" is unhelpful and lazy.
11. Quietly dispose of stupid children's books people gave you but you hate reading aloud.
12. Don't waste time feeling bad about food you have to throw away. If you know someone that DOES feel bad about it, gratefully accept leftovers from them when you go to dinner there, and then go home and throw them away FOR them. Think of it as a little service you can do for humanity.
13. Don't drop everything to answer the phone.
14. Buying something you've wanted for a long time is sometimes more satisfying than nobly going without it.
15. Don't skip date night. I hate it when people tell you to just "find a way" to do things that, clearly, are impossible for you or you would be doing them already. But, DON'T SKIP DATE NIGHT!
16. When singing with children, pitch your voice high---too high for your own comfortable range, probably. Kids are never "tone-deaf" if they can hear the notes in their range. (I am not an actual Singing Expert. But I learned this from one.)
17. Saying "I can't take this anymore" to yourself doesn't really change whether or not you have to take it anymore.
18. Babies cry a lot. Don't take it personally.
19. One man's trash is another man's desperately loved treasure that must be carried around at all times and must never be lost or thrown out, or it will be mourned vocally and lingeringly until is it found or fished out of the garbage.
20. Your shower may be the only time you have to yourself all day. If so, for goodness sake take your time in there!
21. Your willingness to let your child play with a dangerous or "off-limits" item (your phone, a plastic bag, a fork, a pen, etc.) increases in direct proportion to how busy you are, how urgent your current business is, how desperate you are to finish it, how long the child has been bothering you, how loud the child is, and how futile your efforts to quiet the child have been. Which is to say: You WILL allow your child to do things you never thought you would, if you are finally on the phone with Customer Service after 42 minutes on hold, if you are with children at a meeting you didn't know you weren't supposed to bring children to, or if you are at a restaurant with childless relatives. Such desperation should not be mistaken for bad parenting.
22. The "loveable free spirit" personality gets less and less loveable with age.
23. When you have a bad cold, get Puffs with Lotion. It's worth it.
24. The only comment you should make about a pregnant woman's appearance is, "You look absolutely wonderful!"
25. The dire warnings you give your kids will be remembered and passed down to younger siblings (perhaps even made more dire in the intervening time, e.g. "If you put that fwuffball down the heater vent, it will go into the furnace FOREVER, and you will DIE!")
26. Let your husband get up with the kids in the night sometimes (not all the time), even though he has to go to work the next day. It really is true that serving someone makes you love them more, and he will love the baby more when he has to give up sleep for it occasionally. I'm not kidding about this. With our first baby, I always felt like I had to be noble and self-sacrificing, but I think I deprived Sam of the chance to be blessed for his own selflessness. With our second, I learned to let him help more, and he felt more closeness with the baby because of it. (And I got more sleep.)
27. Soup + bread = dinner. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
28. Many of the things people say they can't live without, you can live without.
29. If the day is warm and sunny, go outside! Even just for a minute. If possible, have a picnic. You feel better on the bad-weather days if you aren't wishing you'd taken more advantage of the good-weather days.
30. The world does not end if your children go without baths for several weeks. Though the sheets do get quite dirty.