What My Twenty-Year-Old Self Would See in Me | Being Forty “ish”
As a quick recap: I’m a 43 old mother of two teenagers (15 year old boy, 13 year old girl) who’s been married for 23 years to a boy (that’s what he was) I met in high school (we had a graduating class of 17). We moved to Waco three years ago after moving 20+ times and between 3 different states (AZ–>CA–>AZ–>CA–>TX). I know a thing or two about change and decision making and starting over.
Suddenly, I’m a forty-something-year-old, looking in the mirror and thinking, “Wow, it’s so weird. How did my hair/skin/body change so quickly?” It’s especially eye-opening when you spend enough time with teenagers and have been deluding yourself that it wasn’t that long ago that you were in high school (uh, yes, it was). How did I get to fifteen years after choosing to be a stay-at-home mom and realize that I’m less than five years away from 2 kids in college? All those dreams of travel and ministry work are not so far away. Maybe I’ve just been blinded by the pedal-to-the-metal life that is called parenting? It’s so cliché that I seriously feel like I only just graduated, got married, and had kids, and then must have blinked and suddenly woke up right here.
Thankfully, I have learned some things along those 25 years since graduating high school alongside my future husband. But some of those things I haven’t been ready to hear until recently. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about how life can be always focused around NEEDING something else – more money, a different car, a better job, etc. But if my twenty-something-year-old self could see where she’d be in 20 years, I think she would be 1. AMAZED at how lucky I am with my two beautiful, healthy children, and how much my husband still loves me; 2. SHOCKED at the money we have/spend every month and yet still think we don’t have enough; and 3. INSPIRED to learn from my experiences. I think I know myself pretty well, but I thought I would write down some advice she would glean from this hypothetical glimpse into the future.
Develop Your Voice
I have learned that it is always important to speak up, but it’s even more important to speak up clearly and carefully. Kindness matters. How I speak is more a reflection on me than the words themselves. If I want to be heard, I have to practice the art of empathy.
Find Your Passions
I have heard countless women in various formats ask me “What are you passionate about?” We all find ourselves involved in something we become an “expert” in – whether it’s by choice or by default. Whether it’s by involvement or ability, the hours we spend doing something, give us a platform. Pursue the opportunities in front of you! Every season might bring something different, and it’s okay to keep trying something new until you find that place you were called to be.
Know your Worth in your Heart not the Mirror
Oh, this is the hardest but most important one of all. The voices in our own head (self-placed or misplaced by outsiders) can be reprogrammed. You are so valuable in any and every shape of your body, and with or without bangs or highlights. You have to BELIEVE in your core and SPEAK the words that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) By the way though, wear more sunscreen.
Don’t let your Influence be defined by your Bank Account
After spending most of our 20s and 30s pursuing what we thought “looked” successful, it is with determined intensity that I look you in the eyes and say 3 things:
-Don’t get into debt
-Your influence is defined by your Voice/Passions/Worth, not your car or job title
-Don’t say no because you think you’re not a good example of ___________
Don’t Settle but don’t let someone else tell you what that looks like
After spending so many years as a SAHM, the voices of culture have consistently been inconsistent. You can argue both sides of the argument. Each year is a new choice. If it’s the same choice because it’s what God is telling you is right for RIGHT NOW, then that’s the answer. Just don’t stay stagnate because you want to keep the status-quo or keep up the image of whatever you think people want to see from you.
So, to all of you pretty Mamas who ARE still in your 20s, embrace and love these days ahead. Run and relax, work and play, laugh and cry. Do it all! Believe in yourself and not just your husbands and children and your social media heroines. Thank God for who you are and don’t waste a minute thinking you’re not enough. Go and Shine!