This month I turned 36 years old. That sounds so weird to me, so I took a good hour to sit down and think about things I like about being 36 and also things I have learned.
Some of these are memories I love that I have, some are lessons that I’ve learned, and some are just good sense. And I can combine that many different things because after all, it is my list.
Mom and me. Due to the fire, I only have a handful of photos from my childhood. I found this one in a box in my living room. Thankfully, Mom had made us a box of old photos a few years ago.
1. I was there for the 80s…granted I was too young to understand it, but by golly I was there.
2. Free range childhood. No one used the word play date back then.
3. Swinging from vines in the forest.….That was part of the free range childhood.
4. 3 major bicycle injuries under my belt….Okay 1 was roller skates…There was the time my failed bike-stunt attempt resulted in me riding my bicycle up the front door, the time I flew downhill straight into a fence, and then the time I thought I could do some Nancy Kerrigan jumps in roller skates. Yeah. Lots of bleeding.
5. I’ve learned that People DO change with their life circumstances. For example, alphabetizing and re-alphabetizing, categorizing and re-categorizing my book collection…….That used to be me. Now I just shove them onto shelves. I can’t find any of my books at all, but the older I get the more responsibilities I have, and there is not time for perfecting. Priorities change.
6. The older I get, the less I care about what anyone thinks of me. (Mostly, no one’s thinking about me anyway!) If you are going to have a blog, you have to let go of that mess.
7. I’ve given birth 4 times, but actually that didn’t make me invincible or super-tough. It just means I’ve experienced a lot of things that can go wrong with child-birth, and I now know that all that matters in the end is delivering the baby safely. That’s right. Your birth plan does not impress me. Your living baby impresses me.
8. I finally know how to tame my own hair.
First, I use a shampoo + conditioner twice. THEN I use conditioner. Whatever I do after that doesn’t matter so long as I use a straightening iron. If the air is cold and dry enough, I can skip the straightening.
9. I’ve learned that a degree or a trade of some kind is definitely worth having because life throws unexpected curves, and at some point you are going to need to make some money.
10. Mama Bear syndrome totally applies to humans. Do not mess with my kids. Do not mess with anyone’s children. In fact, there’s a Bible verse about that.
And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!… Matthew 18:6-7
11. Having 1 child was a big adjustment. Having 2 children is much more difficult than having 1. Having 3 is way more work than having 2. Having 4 children almost killed me (the stress!), and having 5 children is something I will never be able to tell you about because I hit my medical, emotional, physical, and everything else limit at 4. But I love it. I love every single one of them more than anything in this world, and as far as I am concerned they are perfect. They are my happiest moments and thoughts.
12. I’ve been through depression before, a couple of times, and I now know what works for me to come out of it. The only way I know how to come out of it is to focus on serving other people, open all your blinds/curtains everyday, play upbeat music, pray on your face for help, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if it gets bad enough, you may have to take antidepressants. I’ve taken them before, although for me it was actually for anxiety.
sharing my love of sea mammals, boats, and the Pacific Ocean with my children. They loved it.
13. It took me 24 years to realize that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a mom. Anything else was just a bonus.
14. I’ve sent a husband off to war 3 times, and I know that if I have to, I can do it again. But man, I hope I never have to!
15. No one tells me how young I look anymore, but I’ve made my peace with that.
16. I’m not poor-skinny like I was at 20, but that’s fine. Poor-skinny is when you are underweight, and it’s because you actually are having to save money by eating less food. That’s what I did in college. Happy people are not poor-skinny because happy people aren’t hungry.
17. I have tried about 5 different kinds of jobs that I didn’t like, but that doesn’t mean I’m flaky. It just means those weren’t my callings. Why live miserable? Move on and try something new.
Caleb and me on the flight out to California 3 years ago.
18. Living all over the country was the hardest thing bout the past 15 years, and yet it was the thing I LOVED most about the past 15 years. Living in a place takes traveling to another level. It gives you understanding of other places and cultures, and the amount that you learn is just mind-boggling.
19. I killed a snake. Sure, it was a tiny snake, but still. I, April, who is terrified of all creepy crawly things, killed a snake because I thought it was necessary to protect my offspring. See, I told you #10 is a very real thing!!
Caleb, creating snow angels in Virginia. He was 6.
20. Virginia got in my blood. Someday I want to go back. I felt like I was with my people there. I can’t explain it.
21. I don’t have to do nursery duty anymore, and that is so freeing for me. I don’t have to spend my entire week dreading Sunday because I know I have nursery duty. My arthritis saved me from signing up for this task that I never liked. I love babies, but nursery duty KILLS me. I am unable to sit in the floor, bend over tedious activities, and the younger the babies the more it hurts my back, my shoulders, my neck, my legs, EVERYTHING to hold them. It used to take me a couple of days just to recover from holding them.
22. My children possess completely different talents than I do, and I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s different gifts. We learn so much from our children!
23. I love that Jesus saved my whole entire family, and now I’m watching each of my children, one at a time, become believers too.
photo courtesy of Stephanie DuBose
24. I fully embrace celebrations! I love good ol’ American holidays. So what if they’re “commercial”? Have some fun already. Life is short. The only one I have a hard time always embracing is Christmas because it’s so much work, and plane tickets are expensive, but I do it anyway.
I believe you should never be too righteous for fun. Did you know that most of the feasts and holidays set up in the Old Testament were actually invented by God? Celebrate!
25. I’m focusing more on listening to women who are older than me and have already done what I am doing. I have many mentors, and sometimes those mentors have no idea that I think of them as a mentor, but there is so much wisdom to be gained from people who have already done what we’re doing.
26. You can’t beat a mini-van for a family of 6. Sure, giant SUVs are hip, but they guzzle the gas, their doors don’t open with a button, and nothing is as practical or affordable as a mini-van.
27. I stop for garage sales. One should never pay full price for kids’ bicycle helmets, tennis rackets, bunk beds, or board games.
28. Peanut/cashew allergies are terrifying. Sometimes I wonder how he will survive, but then I remember that that’s what Emergency Rooms are for.
29. You know how some people feel about Windex? That it can fix everything? That’s how I feel about Benadryl. Miracle drug.
30. I have now been to Disney World twice and Universal Studios twice. This makes the little girl inside of me beyond happy.
31. Eventually skinny jeans will go out of style. Thank goodness because they are not flattering for me. I rarely wear them.
32. Home schooling: I came, I tried, and I can honestly say that it’s simply not for everyone.
33. I love that I got to live in California for 2 years and see the incredible beauty that is Big Sur, the Pacific Ocean, Monterey, San Francisco, and sea mammals! I will always cherish my memories of seeing a whale feeding 10 feet off the shore. Splendor.
34. I have 4 boys. That’s definitely not something I’d have never dreamed of in my 20s!!! I can’t tell you the wonder and adventures we are having. I love it. Love, love, love it. And to think, I only had girl names picked out. Ha!
35. My marriage. I’m so thankful we both stuck it out together because our marriage is so much greater now, in our late 30s, than it was in our 20s or our early 30s.
36. I love the things about me that are still young. That’s something to be THANKFUL for. I don’t have to color my hair yet. Menopause is still 10 years off. My freckles help me look young, and I still have my morning energy. Gradually, these things will change, but today they are still mine.
We might as well enjoy life, right? It all goes by so quickly.
We might as well be happy with what we have because it is what we have. The grass may always be greener on the other side. Whatever. That probably just means they spend way too much money on fertilizer, which smells bad anyway!!! So it’s all good.
Oh yeah!!!! And in case you missed my most recent Facebook live video, about trying to learn how to use essential oils. Here it is!
Thanks for reading, y’all! Thank you for being a part of my first 36 years! Love y’all!