I turn 30 this month and it’s got me reflecting on the person I am today and how I got here. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way in hopes that maybe you won’t have to learn the hard way like I did. Here they are in no particular order:
- It’s not my spouse’s job to make me happy. Ever since having kids, we’ve spent more time at home with the girls and with each other. Before having kids, we would regularly go out and partake in hobbies that didn’t involve each other and that was really healthy for us. After having kids and being on maternity leave and largely alone (yes I was talking to my baby but she was a baby), I craved social interaction with adults. I relied heavily on my husband for that because he was always there. He has been so great through all this but I relied too much on him. I needed to find my own happiness and rediscover the things that I enjoy doing. For me, that’s painting, baking, exercising, and dance. I’ve spent the last year working on that and it’s felt so good.
- Pick your battles. This is key in parenting! Haha any parent of toddlers will tell you that toddlers are really good at driving you crazy. My husband and I have started to ask ourselves, “Is this the hill I want to die on?” to help us decide how we react to our girls fighting us on things. There’s no swift quick rule for easy decision making. We have to consider the context in terms of the type of day we’ve had, the energy we have, and whether it’s really a big deal or if we just wanted the girls to behave a certain way. This has also been helpful in terms of dealing with difficult people at work and also other family members (everyone has an awkward crazy aunt right?)
- It’s okay to say no. I’ve always been a people pleaser and I couldn’t stand it when someone was mad at me. For that reason, I’ve often kept my opinions to myself and internalized things that may have annoyed me. After having kids and getting constant unwanted and unwarranted parenting advice (sometimes from people who don’t even have kids!), I’ve learned to speak up for myself. There’s something about having kids, being sleep-deprived, and running purely on caffeine that gives you a take-no-shit attitude. I’ve learned to be more diplomatic and better at saying no to certain things. I wish I’d learned this earlier in life because the first time I realized I could say no to something, it led to some huge fights. It’s the same with anger right? It’s better to address it sooner than later and not to let it build up and fester inside of you.
- Quality over quantity. This has been especially true in terms of clothes and friends. For clothes, I went through a huge closet clean out after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it was so liberating getting rid of clothes that I had been holding on to but didn’t enjoy or wear. I used to hold on to items of clothing because what if a very specific situation came up and I need to keep this top for that exact scenario?!
For friends, this is about the number of friendships I can realistically maintain but also the time spent with them. I reminisce about the high school days where we could spend night after night hanging out, watching movies, and going for sushi. It’s a little harder to do that now, with a family and work, so my friends and I meet together less often. But when we do, we make it count.
- I am my mother’s daughter. I love my mom but I think some of us can relate to saying “When I’m a mom, I’m not going to be like my mother!” We’re only human and everyone has their flaws. My mother had hers and I vowed to my husband that I would not become her in those ways. I’d say 95% of the time, I’m in control of my parenting and my husband and I are doing it the way we believe is best. But then, shit happens, COVID-19 happens, and it’s a stressful time and I end up reverting back to how my mom parented me and I’m not proud. I lose my temper and I raise my voice with the girls and I instantly regret my actions when I see the look of fear in my daughter’s eyes. We all come with this baggage of how we were raised and that’s our default when we go to raise our own children. It takes a lot of effort and self-awareness to change but I desperately know I want to for my girls.
- Communication is key. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg was a game changer. I highly recommend this book because it’s impactful in every aspect of life because communication is a part of our every day and it’s a part of every relationship we have. I don’t want to give any of it away but how it’s helped me to is to better communicate how I’m feeling and what I want. It’s interesting because the English language and how we use it today can easily lead to “violent” or confrontational communication and for some reason, English doesn’t allow us to fully communicate how we actually feel. If this at all seems cryptic, read the book and it’ll make so much more sense!
Thanks for reading 🙂