40 and Free
Hopefully all of you have survived the first month of back-to-school!
I am still in juggle mode, considering it's also the beginning of a new TV season for me on Dancing With The Stars. At school drop-off today, a mommy friend and I were dishing about the '40s, (it's hardly the new '30s, by the way) and she gave me some great advice at just the right frantic time!
Earlier that morning, after I woke up at 6 a.m. to take my girls to school before starting my own 14 hour day, my daughter said, “Mommy I want you to sign up for as much school stuff as you can this year, K?” Oh jeez, I thought to myself as I imagined how hectic the next 10 weeks were going to be for me.
And then along comes my girlfriend with some words of wisdom to ease my guilt. I want to share the letter she wrote me, in the hope that you may take it to heart - especially if you too are an overachiever and trying to move mountains for your kids.
Happy Birthday, Girlfriend. I'm glad you finally joined Club 40. I am telling you the same thing I told my children when I turned 40 - this milestone means Mommy has earned the right to say, “No” (or when I am channeling my inner Southern diva, “No, thank you!”)
Congratulations! I am waving my magic wand (sparkle dust is sprinkling down on you). Now that I am 41, I am imparting my knowledge to you. Did you know that wisdom is exponential after 40?
Turning 40 means you get to own it - all of it. “What is ‘it’?” you ask? It’s YOU. We finally get to wear our big girl pants or 4-inch stiletto heels, in your case. When someone asks you to volunteer for yet another event, after you’ve already carved out your volunteer time and your calendar is crazy full, just smile and say, “No, but thank you for thinking of me.” There’s no need to explain.
Don’t get me wrong, say yes to the things that excite you and that fit into your schedule, but if the commitment requires you to eek out your last drop of energy, feel free to say “No” - GUILT FREE - and move on. It feels rude at first, but then becomes liberating. I see so many mothers who are overcommitted, miserable, and exhausted.
I have one friend who has a problem raising her hand, so I told her that I placed a permanent invisible stickie Post-it note on her forehead that has “No, thank you” scribbled on it in bold Sharpie. Apparently she didn’t get the “No” memo when she turned 40.
I use the “school-mom” scenario as an example because we have multiple children and can easily relate, but this lesson really applies to every area of our lives. It’s ok to say no to your partner, kids, school, friends, family, and colleagues once in awhile to create some space for you. More on my “30MinutesofPeace” campaign another time.
You must be doing something right. You have four wonderful, thriving children, a new marriage that makes your eyes twinkle and a very successful career. In the midst of all that you are juggling, you have achieved balance. You have taught me so many things over the last few years of our friendship. Your openness constantly amazes and inspires me. You bare it all and you really are THE NAKED MOM. You show the world, the good, the bad, the sad, the ugly and the endless joys of motherhood, and of you.
In the past, I always had my true crazy, zany, spontaneous, quirky, sometimes ditzy, scatterbrained self shoved in a closet behind the winter coats. But this last year, I’ve let my crazy girlfriend self out. She’s actually more fun to be with than the serious old lawyer self (I think my husband is still adjusting). I am channeling you now - THIS IS ME - naked soul. And guess what? Girlfriend self isn’t going back into the closet (sorry ahead of time if I embarrass you -kids, husband, cats, fish).
There’s so much we can learn from our girlfriends. It feels good to be 40 and to let all that superficial "pleasing everyone else" stuff go. As you already know, and have written about, a little selfishness is not so terrible. As we get older we realize that time is precious, and we need to use it wisely.
So, now that you’ve crossed over to the “new 20,” feel free to kindly raise your “No” card. It will help you maintain the balance of being the best, and most naked mom, friend, wife, lover, host, role model, spokesperson, writer, daughter, and world adventurer that you can possibly be.
Kim (also known as Momma Reiner, of The Sugar Mommas)
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