You Had to Be Stupid in Your Twenties

31 May

I just turned 40. I just turned 40. 40 is an age, and I just turned it. 40 is a number that equals the number of years I’ve been alive.

I’m pretty sure that I’m having a bit of a mid-life crisis. What have I done? What am I doing? What do I want to be when I grow up?

What do I want to be when I grow up?! That’s it! I’m grown up! I should know what I want to be by now because I’m 40 and that’s an age that sounds grown up.

I still have dreams. I haven’t “arrived” yet. I have a degree in Music, which is wonderful and, well, sort of useless at the moment. Paul and I have discussed grad school but we are not in a place for me to go to make my dreams come true just now. But, I’m 40. Shouldn’t my dreams have come true by now? And what are those dreams, exactly?

Actually, quite a few of them have. I lived pretty hard in my late teens and early twenties. I never envisioned that I would be wife. I dated a few great guys… and a few lemons. None were on the path of marital bliss. And then this man came along. He pursued me in a way that I had never experienced. He freaked me out, frankly, and I, essentially, told him to get lost (he still has the email). One evening a friend pointed out what a great guy that Paul Petroski was. “Then bang! Crash! And the lightning flash!” I realized that I turned away quite an amazing man (extra credit for those who know that reference). I had to see if he would still want someone who had so cruelly sent him away. He would. And he did after I apologized. (He still has that email, as well.)

I never imagined I would be a mother. I never imagined I wanted to be a mother. Yet, a funny thing happened after I said, “I do.” My womb came to life and begged for life. The change in me was absolutely insane. After a few years, my womb received it’s wish and I became a mother. A few years after that, I became a mother of two. That’s a dream realized that I didn’t really think would be one of my dreams.

I also never, EVER, saw myself as a stay-at-home mom. One day I’m a working mom with a 9-month old son and the next day I’m a stay-at-home mom to that 9-month old son. I didn’t know what to do with him. I didn’t know what to do with myself. An incredible thing happened. This beautiful boy taught me how to be a stay-at-home mom. He showed me the ropes. Then, let’s add a little girl to the mix to make it more crazy and delightful. Well, there’s a dream that I never saw that came and hit me in the face.

Now, both of my kids are school-age and I’m working at a tax agency. My boss asked me to put together a bio. I told her my bio was simple: “Teresa has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Music but found that it’s not very useful so now she’s working at a tax agency.”

I look back at my life and see things I could’ve done differently. I could’ve worked through what I really wanted to be when I grew up. Combined my passions. Had a portfolio of careers. Been more diligent in my getting my degrees. Treated people better. Drank less. Smoked… not at all. Did less drugs… What? Did I say that? I never did those. I just read some very descriptive books about them… some scratch ‘n sniff…

Here I am now. 40 years old. And I can see, I still have so much time ahead of me, God willing and the creek don’t rise. I get to take stock of my life and see the incredible beautiful tree God has created from all the dirt it came from. I get to jump back into the workforce and meet people and converse with adults again on a regular basis (except on those days when I really don’t feel like “adulting”). I get to see the world again from another colorful lens. I can say to myself, “Teresa, you have an incredible husband, two beautiful, healthy and happy children, and you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. Go ahead. Get that grad school degree that you had no idea you wanted 20 years ago. Get that tattoo you’ve wanted for the past 20 years.” (That tattoo thing has been awesome. I already know which one I’m getting next.)

I put together a playlist of songs that formed my musical tastes in my late teens and early twenties. It’s been on repeat for the past few weeks. I told my co-worker, 15 years my junior, how I’ve been pondering my life and reminiscing and dwelling in. How I see all the things I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done differently had I known better. This fairly wise 25-year old woman said, “My aunt always told me, you can’t be wise at 40 if you’re not stupid at 20.”

I guess it was good to be stupid in my twenties.

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