A List for Younger Me...What I Wish I Knew Then

Once upon a time a cute little Colorado native married a Virginia born graphic designer. The two got married, had a son then a daughter 5 years later.

And then---->

BING BOING BOOM 26 minutes later they have 2 teenagers one of whom is a senior and trying to figure out how to be a man-child while the other navigates allllll the awkward of 8th grade. You can find these old people who had these kids exclaiming with annoying regularity that they can’t believe where the time went.

The end.

Please take a moment to study Jack's best impression of Bug's Bunny. Circa 2007.

Please take a moment to study Jack's best impression of Bug's Bunny. Circa 2007.

This was Audrey's first-ever legit smile. SEE WHAT A GOOD MOM I WAS...NURSING IN THE DRIVER's SEAT. RELAX - I'm sure the car was in park.

This was Audrey's first-ever legit smile. SEE WHAT A GOOD MOM I WAS...NURSING IN THE DRIVER's SEAT. RELAX - I'm sure the car was in park.

There is no way I have lived enough years, driven enough carpool rounds, signed enough permissions slips to be at this stage of life. Despite that impossibility it wasn’t too hard for me to draft a list of what I would want my 20-something year old self to be assured of as a brand new mama. If “younger me” had this list, I think she’d feel lighter most days, less burdened by the path of motherhood and woman hood that was before her.

#1 ASK FOR HELP

Mom was in Guatemala in her early 20’s when she caught a parasite that began to overtake her vision.  So as a young mom, she’d feel our heads and listen to our voices to determine which of her children was approaching with some need or complaint. And TO THIS DAY she still connects on the deepest of levels with the people who helped her get through each day with her littles and her blindness. 

We need people who know us, help us, and love us and let me emphasize that I’m not just telling you to ask for help so that you can have more help. Asking for help is like putting a sign on your forehead that says: I’m willing to receive from you. And if I show you that vulnerability, maybe you’ll be drawn to that. Brene Brown says it better, actually:

“I know that vulnerability is …the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, and creativity, of belonging, of love.”

Curate your village, people.

5 year old Jack. Hadn't lost a tooth yet...had a baby sister he wasn't too thrilled about. Loved to climb the incline with his grandpa. 

5 year old Jack. Hadn't lost a tooth yet...had a baby sister he wasn't too thrilled about. Loved to climb the incline with his grandpa. 

#2) BE MISUNDERSTOOD

This one is tricky. In this season of my life I’m sandwiched between an aging mother with lots of needs and 2 kids who, while becoming more independent all the time, still need me. So I make choices every single day that someone is not happy with. And for a long time (TOO LONG) I kept every plate spinning. I’ll spare you the details but there has been more than one instance of when people did not think I was doing the right thing either for my mom or for my kids.

Wise counsel and many days that sucked the life out of me have brought me to the point of saying this:

CARE LESS ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK.

Be willing to be misunderstood. They don’t think about your choices as often as you think. They will resume their regularly scheduled lives and not dwell on your life because that’s what we all do. Be willing to be misunderstood and not have to explain it or bring about understanding.

jack and audrey 2012.jpg

#3) A WORD ABOUT BUCKET LISTS

Who is keeping track of the items on your bucket list? Why is this “a thing?” And for heaven’s sake, what happens when you finish checking all of those items off? Is it time to die? Do you real quick make up some new items for said list?

How about adding items to a bucket list after you’ve done them! That way you’ll never be disappointed. I wouldn’t ever have thought to add:

I survived one of my kids pooping in the local swimming pool in front of God and everybody.

I conquered going back to work while having young kids.

I found redemptive aspects in the aftermath of my mom’s stroke

And if the bucket list generally ran the show in my life and I thought I’d made it or failed at it based on how many of those items were checked…I’d be an empty shell.  

How about this?  Live each day. Don’t turn down opportunities for adventure, for real, for true life.

THIS IS EXCELLENT PARENTING ON EXHIBIT

THIS IS EXCELLENT PARENTING ON EXHIBIT

#4) SPEND TIME WISELY

Do you ever just do something that makes you just giggle? Do you ever pretend you don’t notice your gigantic milk mustache just so someone else would laugh? Do you ever squeeze mashed potatoes through your teeth during dinner? Did you ever have a great sacrilegious laugh in the middle of a quiet church service?  Did you do any of these things in the last month? I hope so.  We should be working hard to be joyful. What does it mean or look like to work really hard to be joyful.

This world is so serious! Erma Bombeck said long ago about Housework: if you do it right will kill you. So come on. Stop being so serious about it all and get out into some joyful space. This is important. For you and for your whole family.

SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY by making sure to do fun and goofy things.

#5 TELL YOUR STORY

There’s nothing like the old Blankinship family stories like the one where as a little girl I used salt instead of sugar in the cookie recipe making the cookies taste so bad that even the dog wouldn’t touch them. When the sibs are altogether we tell stories about the raging parties we had as high schoolers when my parents had the nerve to get away for the weekend. (Statute of limitations rules state that you can’t get grounded after age 40, people.)

And there’s no equal to the value of telling the stories to my kids of what they did when they were little like when toddler-Jack called umbrellas “un-gorillas” or when his saying “sit on a bench” sounded exactly like the well-crafted phrase “son-of-a-bitch.” AHAHAHAHA! Walk down memory lane crafting that narrative so your kids can hear it And while we’re talking about memories - I’ll tell you what I CANNOT remember:

I CANNOT remember when my kids were officially potty trained.

I cannot remember when Audrey gave up her pacifier.

I cannot remember the day I did the most items on my checklist.

The days pass. They each have their own worries. Take them one at a time and don’t look too far ahead. Pay attention right here. Right now. That’s how to lose the world.

So those are some basics I would tell my “younger me.”  Ahhhh.... younger me....cheers to her. She lived a lot of days to get here. 

Megan's Take: 

I always love looking back and thinking about what I might have told my younger self. (Of course the trick is to say it with enough conviction that someone else might believe it because, heaven knows, we can be bull headed at times!) And I love these nuggets of wisdom. Especially the part about being willing to BE MISUNDERSTOOD. I think I wasted (dare I say, continue to waste) too much time justifying my actions to other people. While advice is good, making decisions simply to please others is not. If I could add one thing to this list, it might be a very closely related, YOU DO YOU. No one else knows exactly who you are, who your people are and what they (and you) need. But you do. Trust your gut. It's most likely a direct deposit from God. 

Holly's Take:

I am impressed that you know what to tell your younger self. It's a good list, I must say.  I still feel like a younger self, but a really old one.  I'm pretty sure I need my older self to talk to me right now.  I think that if my life hadn't gone haywire, I would have raised kids that were expected to excel in all areas and get mostly A's, with an occasional B. But now I'm pretty down with whatever grades, as long as they are not biting, stealing, yelling, and that they are relatively emotionally healthy.  So, what I now worry about, is their emotional health, but that's a side note. 

 I think that in other areas, I haven't got it figured out either.  I kind of want to have more fun right now, yet I also want to make my life count and make sure it has purpose. I feel like if I were to get deeply involved in some purpose that invested my life into a great cause, maybe later down the road, I would say, "I should have taken more time to smell the roses and have more fun."  But if I were to smell the roses and have more fun, my older self might say, down the road, "I should have used my life more intentionally and sacrificially."  So, I guess right now, I'm on a day to day basis.  What do you have for me today, Jesus?  Some R and R?  Some Spirit appointed conversation?  Margaritas at Crystal Park Cantina?  Yelling at Spencer from the sidelines, to kick the soccer ball to the outside, for the 50th time? Should I enforce a bedtime for good sleep?  Should I read one more chapter of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, even though the lights should have been out long ago?  I guess this is how I feel.  If Jesus is in the background, I feel like I can never get it right. I always choose the wrong thing and go with the wrong priority.  However, if Jesus is front and center, I can't get it wrong, because even if I make a "wrong choice," His grace is there to cover it.  I've said it once and I'll say it again.  I need that Jesus, SO BAD!

On Leaving the Only Vocation We've Ever Known

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“Young Life?” I questioned. “I’ve never heard of that. What is it?” 

To be sure, Young Life breeds its own kind of rabid college-football-loving-status type of culture. The people who love it paint their bare chests and scream at the top of their lungs. Everything they own has a YL logo on it. Tshirts, bumper stickers, water bottles. You name it. And the folks who have no idea what YL is or don’t give a rat’s, haven’t a clue what to do with such over-the-top adoration. 

As a relative “outsider,” at the beginning of this gig, I had a love/hate relationship with YL for quite a while. It took me a few years and lots of tearful conversations with my husband before I too fell head over heels in love with this ministry. Young Life has been our vocation for the past 21 years -- but now we are feeling the winds of change and we are about to embark on a new adventure. 

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Generally speaking, I’m not a sentimental person. I might tear up during a particularly moving human interest story on America’s Got Talent or at the end of a movie like say The Notebook. (I mean, who doesn’t??) But by and large, I’m a pretty no-nonsense kind of girl. I don’t usually daydream about yesteryear or the glory days. If anything, I’m more apt to look too far into the future than reminisce about the past. So, when I volunteered to host my dad’s retirement party honoring his 45 years of family practice, my mind went blank. I didn’t really know how to make this family potluck more special than any other.

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