Friday, May 24, 2019

Thank You Thirties

I remember distinctly the day my mom turned forty.

I was eight at the time, and had always perceived her as younger than my friends' moms, a fact that made me proud. She was energetic and glamorous, taught aerobics, and frequently mistaken for Kathie Lee Gifford in the mid 80s.

On the day of her fortieth birthday, she was scheduled to teach an aerobics class and I asked if I could tag along. She had been teaching for as long as I could remember, so a good portion of my early memories consist of attempting headstands on bench presses to a soundtrack of Whitney Houston, Belinda Carlisle, and calls to grapevine to the left.

On this particular day, just before class was over, a few of her friends slipped out the back door and emerged to surprise her with a traditional fortieth birthday celebration - Gifts wrapped in dark paper, black balloons, and a cake decorated with a headstone that pronounced her "Over the Hill."

I had never seen such a display and while they all had a good laugh, I observed the scene with a terrible feeling of apprehension. Birthday balloons were supposed to be the colors of the rainbow. Bright, happy celebrations of your life. What were these morbid omens of impending death? How dare they throw her a funeral instead of a party?

It must have been a formative moment, because since that day I have subconsciously designated fortieth birthdays as the onset of a person's mortality. Like we're all born with clocks that countdown to our expiration, but they don't actually begin ticking until thirty nine ends, and someone hands you black balloons and a headstone cake.

Today it's my turn to turn forty, and if I could I would go back and assure my eight-year-old self that it's all okay, and mom is still young. It does feels like a milestone, certainly, and has prompted quite a bit of introspection recently, but none of the thoughts swirling in my head have been about death.

Mostly, turning forty has been a chance to reflect on my thirties as I leave them behind, and I'm glad to say that my thirties were kind to me. In the last ten years I have experienced a good range of happiness and challenges that have all taught me a thing or two, or thirty, about life.

Thirty Lessons 
I Learned in My Thirties

1. Little girls are easier to raise than little boys

2. And require less supervision

3. Chicago is a great place to buy big, cheap bombs.

4. Thirty five is not too old to take your first ballet lesson. But it is too old to show up for your second or third ballet lesson. 

5. Sometimes clothes look better on the model

6. George Washington's false teeth are on display at Mount Vernon, but don't ask me to prove it.

7. Children should be expected to contribute at a young age. 

8. Snowmen can pack heat without melting

9. "La Tina" is Spanish for ringworm. This is helpful information, but not the first thing you want to see when you arrive at the maternity ward to deliver your baby.

10. Men will do almost anything for a new set of golf clubs. 

11. They also need time after returning home from Church to relax and unwind  

12. Butterflies with disabled wings are the most fun

13. Approach the lego table with caution

14. Some kids will volunteer to have their picture taken. Others must be drafted.

15. The nuances of a Japanese steakhouse should be explained to children ahead of time. 

16. No one warns you about the amount of human waste you’ll encounter on the sidewalks of San Francisco.

17. When your caller ID says Prince William, don't get your hopes up and make a fool of yourself. Prince William is a county in Maryland. 

18. Little brothers don't always do their chores, but will be the first to assist you with discipline

19. Nothing beats a cousin sleepover

20. The 2010s were a rough decade for Big Bird

And Dora

And Mickey 

21. When 711 says you can fill any container on free Slurpee day, they mean it.

22. Wearing a University of Utah sweatshirt will help you make new friends in Salt Lake, but not if you're wearing it to an ugly sweater party

23. Life will never get worse than the moment your sister found the golden egg on Easter. 

24. Don't forget the letter G at the end of your sentences. 

25. Teach your kid sports now, and humility later. 

26. When your cousins offer to bury you in the sand, check them first for bread crumbs.

27. The best time of day is when dad gets home from work.

28. If you wear a fur-lined coat and mittens to the World War II Memorial, your shadow will look exactly like Dora the Explorer.

29. If you don’t feel like smiling, by all means don’t

30. Happiness is finding the right balance of chasing your dreams, and living in your reality. 

A Brother Like No Other

(Written by my mother Susan Foutz, who would like to clarify that she actually has two brothers like no other ) If you lived in Arizona in t...