It’s my 40th birthday. Like any monumentally important milestone, it got me thinking about who I am and what I know, who I thought I’d be by now and who I actually am. What, I wonder, do I have to show for 40 years on this green earth?
But here’s the thing. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the older I got, the less I knew. I’m less sure about things I knew for certain when I was 30. At 20, life was a no-brainer: get a degree, marry the guy, get the job, have the kids. By 30, I had the kids and had no time to think about anything – but I could still tell you that breast beat bottle, that children shouldn’t watch too much television and that being a mom is the be-all and end-all of my life’s purpose.
And now, on the big day?
I’m glad that I breastfed my kids, but no longer have a strong opinion about what others do. My children have probably watched more TV than is acceptable by my compatriots in the mommy mafia.
And is being a mom fulfilling? Absolutely. But is it everything? Where do my kids end and I begin?
The answer is I don’t know. And the truth is that there are a lot of things I still don’t know. I have learned a thing or two here and there. I’ve learned not to have any heroes. Heroes often let you down. But that it’s okay because I’ve disappointed myself and I’m learning to forgive all of us.
I’ve learned that I don’t want to be a brand. I don’t want to be defined by the things I buy or the candidates I vote for. I don’t want to be locked into a belief system that is so rigid I can’t be open to learning new things.
Now the things I don’t know far outweigh what I’m sure of. Here are 39 of them. Maybe I’ll find the answers by my 50th.
What I Don’t Know by Age 40:
What I want to be when I grow up
How to keep it that way after I clean the house
How to meditate
How to save money
How to make meatloaf
The lyrics to “Yellow Ledbetter”
How not to cry when I’m angry
How to thicken my skin
How to achieve great eyebrows
How to be a wife, mother, employee and human being simultaneously
How to not order a second (or third) glass of wine
The difference between an alligator and a crocodile
Whether Pluto is considered a planet or not
How to do a cartwheel
How to not care what others think of me
Why women vote Republican
What happens when you die
How to fold a fitted sheet
How to wear a scarf
How to organize anything
How to achieve balance
Why I can’t just use the fancy towels
Why I need a pocketbook when I have pockets
The difference between foundation and concealer, and how to apply either
How to be in the moment
If ghosts are real
How to disagree amicably
How to be satisfied with what I have
How some people don’t drink coffee
Or don’t like chocolate
How to code (or what that really means)
How to do a headstand
If God is real
How Trump got this far
What happened at the end of the Sopranos
How to get through Joyce’s Ulysses
How to pronounce “quinoa,” “acai” and “manicotti.” I only want to eat the last one.
Why pot isn’t legal