The Big 38!


I'm 38.  I had to think twice about it this morning (perhaps Dementia is already setting in).  After having Lewie (just before my 32 birthday), time seemed to stop for me.  After all, the focus is on my little guy now.  It's about his birthday parties, his milestones, and his achievements.

If I had one wish, it would be to freeze time, not indefinitely but say, for a year or two more.  I'm enjoying Lewie as a five year-old now, and I can handle 38 for a while.  It seems like once I turned 30, time started going by exponentially faster--and years went by in twos--32, 34, 36...

It took me a while to find my soul mate and begin a family.  Sometimes I wish I had started sooner. Perhaps, I would have three children by now!  Still, I believe everyone has their own destiny in life, and mine has been pretty good to me.  Today, as I grow another year older wiser, I'd like to reflect on some of the lessons I've learned later in life.  Some are lessons I learned in this decade and still others are lessons that I've only learned this year...

Our most recent visit to the pumpkin patch...I think we both blinked, but for some reason I like this picture.

1.  It takes a community to raise a child.
Oh, how I've heard this expression again and again, but when I was pregnant with Lewie, I had my mind made up that I would be the one taking care of him from sun up to sun down, and even more, I would be the one teaching him, perhaps even homeschooling.

It's five years later, and I've learned that I can't do it all.  I can't take care of him 24/7 without a break, and even more, it's not healthy for his only interactions to be with me.  Little by little, I learned that I needed to give up control, and guess what?  It's working.  I have a happy, well-adjusted little boy that loves his daddy, his Gramy (my mom), his Ninny and Papa (my in-laws), his aunties, his teachers, and his little friends.  He seems to learn so much more from a structured curriculum at school, and while I know some moms that are amazing at homeschooling, I've finally admitted to myself that I'm not one of them.  We play games and learn a little at home, but ultimately, he does his primary learning with his teachers and friends...and that's okay with me.

2.  I've learned "to let go and let God."
This is a common saying, most used in AA and NA meetings, that has applied to my life for a while.  It seems that every time I try to be the one "in control," I lose it.  In these last few years, our little family unit has had to contend with big issues such as addiction to pain medication, mental health issues, depression, and major financial loss.  Answers to problems such as these are not found in a pill. They're not found in anxiety, worry, and unrest.  They're not found in a doctor's or  psychologist's handbook.  Answers, I've learned, come from prayer.  Prayer has helped me make it through some very difficult days, and prayer has given me hope when I thought our marriage might not survive.

3.  I've learned to focus less on the future and enjoy NOW.
As an adult, I'd like to think that I'm the one teaching my son, but often the table is turned, and it's my son that's teaching me major life lessons.  One of the biggest of these lessons is to enjoy the moment.  I'm a daydreamer, but after having my son, I quickly realized that when I'm with him, I have no time to think about the past or the future.  In order to be fully engaged with him, I have to be concentrating on the "now."  Life, for him, is about the present.  It's about swinging on the swings, jumping on the trampoline, picking up an acorn for his collection, or playing with his train table now.  If my mind starts to wander, he brings me back to reality, and I'm glad he does.  Life is not to be lived in my head; it's to be lived with real, tangible conversations, emotions, actions, hugs, and kisses that I can see, hear, and feel.

4.  I've learned the greatest gift you can give to others is empathy.
The saying "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins" or "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" is so true.  Many times I'm quick to judge people either by their appearances, their demeanor, or their attitude.    I'm quick to judge people who seem angry, defensive, or hostile.  I also catch myself envying people who seem like they have the perfect life or the perfect marriage, BUT...  I don't know them.  I don't know their life.  I don't know what hardships they've faced, and I certainly don't know their own worries, anxieties, or fears.  In the past year, I've learned to practice having empathy for family members and friends.  I've also learned  to have empathy for complaining students and even bickering politicians.  At the end of the day, we're all just little kids in adult bodies.  In fact, when I start picturing adults as a three year-old versions of themselves, I realize that we all started out the same.  We were all once young, innocent, and pure; underneath those harbored insecurities, failed dreams, feelings of loss and mourning, we still are those pure, perfect babes.

5.  I've learned that it's not always about money.
I live in a wealthy part of the country, and consequently, a very wealthy part of the world.  Connecticut, being close to New York, is usually ranked as the third or forth wealthiest state based on our median household income.  While I live in a working class neighborhood, some of our more prominent surrounding towns boast million dollar mansions with perfect green lawns, sprawling gardens, and picture-perfect sunset views.  I catch myself admiring those houses way more than I should and wishing I had a larger kitchen, a greener lawn, or you name what else.  While I still struggle with wanting to make a higher income, I've learned that my happiest days were those when I didn't have an income at all.  It was just about me staying home with my little boy and being present for all his big and small moments.  With him, it felt like time stopped, and for once, it didn't matter if my neighbors had a bigger house.  At the end of the day, do I want my son to remember me for being a loving mom who was fully present with him or to remember me as the mom who didn't have time because she was always trying to make money?  We need enough money to get by, but after that, its about creating fun, long-lasting memories (ones filled with love, joy, and support) that truly count.

6.  I've learned that true happiness comes from appreciating what you have.
A while back, I started a gratitude journal.  These days, I don't always have the time to write my gratitude list for the day, but I still wake up every morning thanking God for the wonderful gifts we have in our lives.  When I stop focusing on my "wants," and instead, focus on what I already have, I realize just how much I am blessed.  It's the simple things that we take for granted that truly mean so much--I'm thankful that I can wake up to a warm house, that my favorite cereal is in the pantry, that I have a car to drive to work, that I have a job where I can earn a decent salary, etc.  And then, of course, there are the larger things that I take for granted such as having a healthy and happy little boy that keeps me entertained all day long.  I've come to realize that the answer to being happy is to stop focusing on what I don't have and to instead pay attention to the abundance that I've already been given.


  1. Happy Happy Birthday!!! Those are some great tidbits of wisdom. I hope this year is the best yet.

  2. My dear friend I love this post! Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!! I finally got my computer fixed and can blog again and visit my favorite blogs. I agree with you about empathy. It was always the first word I taught the first day of school to my fourth graders. It is something too many people do not even know the definition of let alone the ability to truly feel what another might feel. You are an amazing mom! I wish I had become a mom sooner also, but it was not God's plan. I wanted to be a mom since I was little. While others would say what they wanted to be when they grew up (doctor, policeman, fireman, etc.) I always wanted to be a mommy. This is such a beautiful post! Happy birthday Annette! By the way, please remove the Mama's Little Nestwork button when you can. I could not keep up with it and no longer have it. I kind of wish I did not let go of it because I had so many plans, but time is so little one now and I want to give it all to my little one. Happy birthday!

    Mama Hen

  3. I wish I could also freeze time for a year or two. These are the best of times. I also believe that everyone has their own destiny in life. I adore your family. You look fantastic, I wouldn't have ever guessed that is how old you are. I really enjoyed this post. You are such an amazing person. I admire you and look up to you! Lewie is blessed to have you! I hope that things are going as well as they can be with the full time hours. Hugs to you! xo HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!


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