Friday, April 3, 2015

43 by 43

Sixteen years ago on December 16, my mother died at the age of 43, when I was 23 and just finishing college.  We thought she'd be in Hospice care for weeks.  After eight years of fighting breast cancer, I couldn't believe the fight was lost.  She was the strongest woman I've ever known.  How could anything beat her? She was only home for a few days before the end came.  Eight years -  all of college and high school for me - and yet I was completely unprepared, taken entirely by surprise.

My first breath was taken in her presence.  Her last breath was taken in mine.  I didn't know until she was gone that she had defined me.  Without her, I didn't know who I was.  I felt like a child again.  The world should have stopped turning, but on it spun.

Today, she would have been 60.

It's common among females who lose their mothers to fear dying at the age that their mothers died.  I read this in Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman, and understanding that this is a common fear helped me to confront and dismiss it. And losing my mother so young has given me the attitude that aging beats the alternative.

My sister's senior picture -
Mom at my age now, 39, me at 19, & my sister at 17, or thereabouts.
But turning 38 was a little weird.  A little "Woah - new age bracket, here!"

Then in December I turned 39.  That was a little... hard.  I'm throwing my husband a (belated) Walking Dead birthday party for his 40th next month, to make light of his worry that he's now Old with a capital "O."

But zombie jokes aside, now I'm less than a year from 40, and that is a really different number from 30-anything.

And it's so close to 43.

(And suddenly it occurs to me that the majority of people reading this blog are probably under 35.  Oh, well.)

So many numbers...


What if I had just four years left to live?  Just until I am 43?

Magoo will be 13.5, Sweet Pea will be 9.5 (Magoo's age now), and my little toddler Bellybean will be 6.5.  Nowhere near the 23 years I got with my mom.  Nowhere near enough time...

But I'm not following this train of thought to wallow in morbidity.  I don't want to fear death.

But maybe I want to live like I'm going to die.

So this is by bucket list of 43 things I want to do by the time I'm 43.
  1. Look back and feel that I have had my kids in the best educational environment for each of them, individually, each year.  No more plodding through while everything feels wrong, trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole.
  2. Be a part of passing pro-breastfeeding legislation (preferably in 2015). (done! HB 786 (now Chapter 619) extends pump-at-work rights to salaried public employees. It was passed at the end of the 2015 session and is effective beginning 9/1/15.  New goal: finally pass the bill to strengthen the right to breastfeed, & also the one to license IBCLCs in 2017.)
  3. Go para-sailing - or at least something similarly crazy-awesome.
  4. Go surfing.
  5. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  Exercise regularly.  Run.  In fact, run or at least jog a 5K.  Get strong, physically.  Learn and practice yoga.  Take better care of myself in general (like, by taking my Synthroid for my thyroid consistently).  Get a mammogram.
  6. Develop and maintain routines.  As in, I want to feel like I have my shit together.  This includes conquering (for good) Mount Laundry, and slaying the Paper Demon.
  7. Take the boys to the Columbus Zoo.  See my sister and nephews.  Take at least one fantastic family trip, just for us, every year.  Make epic memories.
  8. At least start to get photos organized and accessible for my children.  (Currently they're mostly all boxed up or digital - I want them to be able to look through scrapbooks.)
  9. Begin to build an addition on our little two-bedroom house.  Fix some of the stuff that worries me (mold behind the shower tiles) or annoys me (rosy bathroom wallpaper that we wanted to replace when we moved in - in 2001).  Improve our backyard.  A hammock is a must for this.  So is getting rid of most of the kids' outside toys that aren't nailed down.
  10. Meet the needs of my children as best as I am able.  They're fed, and they're loved, but I always feel I am falling short in so many ways.  Not enough exercise, too much pizza, months behind on well checks - saying "No" to Hide and Seek... again.  I want to look back and feel that I did my best.  That I took care of myself and answered my calling but that they were prioritized and not neglected.  I want to know that most of the time, I am providing what they need from me (whether that's space to fail or help to succeed).  I want to have a weekly family game night more often than not.  To make sure the kids have the attention they need to play with all the crap they have - build Lego sets with help, perform science experiments with supervision, etc.  And I want to choose love.  On my 43rd birthday I want to look back and feel that most of the time, I chose love when responding to my sons and husband.
  11. Garden.  More often than not, even if it's just a few plants.
  12. Involve my children in service projects.  I want them to know how insanely blessed they are, and to feel compelled to pay it forward.  I want to practice random acts of kindness with them.
  13. Buy a nursing mother's meal (or drink). (done, 5/18/15)
  14. Allow Bellybean to self-wean.  (My older two had encouragement, as breastfeeding was painful while I was pregnant.)
  15. Practice gratitude daily, on my own and as a family.
  16. Start the campaign I've thought about for two years.  Prepare documents to respond to NIP incidents with moms who contact me when they have them.  Work on getting businesses to join the Family Friendly Business Initiative.  Make the two videos about breastfeeding that I've been wanting to make.  Organize a large event.
  17. Be a recognized name in the breastfeeding community.  Make this calling of mine something that I can do as a vocation in some way.  Turn my blog into a bonafide website and into an organization or business of some sort.  Write more consistently.  Finally get a fartin' logo.
  18. Speak somewhere, at least once, and do a kick-ass job.  Not a 30-second news interview, but a conference kind of thing.
  19. Have friends over sometimes.  Have friends.  In real life, not just on Facebook or in relation to work.  I want to cultivate the relationships I have.  To risk being hurt - risk big - and really let people - or at least one person - in.
  20. Read at least some of the freaking parenting books I own.
  21. Learn more about dyslexia and dysgraphia.
  22. De-clutter.  Empty storage shed.  Make the playroom look fabulous.
  23. Finish promised gifts.  Make bean bags for my kids.  Send my nieces & nephews birthday presents, at least once.  On time, to boot.  Make a family cookbook.
  24. Bake my mom's cookies at Christmas.
  25. Be debt free.  For my part, this is about supporting my husband however I can and being fiscally responsible, and putting it out there in the universe.  I don't want him to feel pressured, as the breadwinner, by this being my goal for us.
  26. Have a vacation with Adam, alone.
  27. Write about some of the things that fascinate me.  Write something that matters.  Not just a blog post, but an article for HuffPo or a thesis or a speech (TEDTalk?) or a even mother f*cking book.  Something that makes a difference for people.
  28. Volunteer more for the kids' school(s).
  29. Spend less time anxiously waffling about big decisions, especially when it comes to negativity in my life.  Either cut it out or enjoy the good parts and don't give so many craps about the disappointing or upsetting parts.  Confront bullying in my life when that's what's upsetting me.
  30. Explore Austin more.  Do more of the things our city has to offer - SXSW, Austin Duck Adventures, Austin City Limits, the zoo and the Thinkery and the Wildflower Center, the kite festival, ice skating on the roof of Whole Foods, stand up paddling.  Things I've done but want to do more often with the kids, things I've always wanted to do but haven't yet.
  31. Once Bellybean is no longer boob-dependent for sleep, buy a subscription to Zach Theatre and see plays regularly with Adam.  And take the kids to at least a few (three) plays a year, including at least one Broadway show (one total).
  32. Be in one of the boys' movies.  I don't want them to remember me as always staying home to clean while they go off to have fun and make movies.  I want them to remember me as being fun, too. (Filmed, June 2015. Will link when it's edited and posted to YouTube. I'd still love to do a big role with them, but I had fun being a goon.)
  33. Get a massage.  Get a mani-pedi.  Or a mani.  Or a pedi.  If I've ever had my nails done it was in high school and I can't recall it.  (I'm not much of a girly girl...)
  34. Cook more.  Like, well.  Cook well.  Well enough that it comes easy, and doesn't feel like a big production every time I make something other than spaghetti.  Get a CSA (long term) and use all the veggies in my/our cooking.
  35. Make sure my littles can swim. (2/3 done! Sweet Pea started swimming April 2015!)
  36. Go skiing as a family.  Go horseback riding as a family.
  37. Dance in the rain with my loves.
  38. Go out one of the nights that something cool is happening in the sky - a meteor shower or super moon or something - & actually see it, rather than read it's coming and forget and/or go to bed instead.  Maybe while camping.
  39. Therapy.  Conquer anxiety, even when life is intense.
  40. Do cosplay as a family at a con. (Done! 5/31/15 Magoo and Sweet Pea were Little Batman and Robin - they make YouTube videos as these characters - and we took them to meet the original Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward, from the 1966 TV series. Bellybean was dressed as the Penguin and Adam and I went as his goons. That this happened was all thanks to Adam, who knew I wanted to do this & got the costumes together for us and B. He is simply awesome!
    We also met...
    Sylvester McCoy, the 6th Doctor
    Stan Effing Lee!
    Scully! I mean, Gillian Anderson, but I'm such a huge X Phile
    that to me, she'll always be Scully. I'll write more about this one day.
    We talked about breastfeeding!
    My boyfriend, Nathan Fillion.
    Karen Gillan (Amy Pond!)
    Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead's Hershel!)
    Not only did we dress up for ComicCon, we totally geeked out for swim meets, dressing for the theme of each one - not always this elaborately, but we love Disney, so we went all out. I'm a tad embarrassed by how much spirit we have, but I also think we rock!)

  41. Get better at managing stress and anger.  Model better management for my children.  Take the Orange Rhino Challenge.  Rock it.
  42. Win the 4th of July parade float contest.
  43. Prepare a will.  Not because I think I'll die before 44, but because it's the grown-up thing to do when you have kids.  

No comments:

Post a Comment