This is in response to an article I read online and being 39 and a half years old, I decided to see if what they considered a mistake was also one of mine. The thirties are the new twenties, n'est pas? Not that I compare myself to what mass media considers success, but it did give me a moment to reflect on the past 10 years and be grateful.
I think my ideas of mistakes in my 30's would of been a little different from the article's. For example, I would have included something about breaking free from past internal scripts given to us in childhood, and neglecting a spiritual life (not already having some kind of spiritual habit or relationship with a higher power, ie (daily prayer, meditation).
The 7 Mistakes of that article are:
1. They abandon their loftier aspirations: Yes I definitely do identify with this mistake, although I havent abandoned as much as re-prioritized.. I had dreams of changing the world, working for an NGO or being apart of a peace process that includes the participation of women and caretakers. I dreamed about writing that screen play or a book of short stories, or publishing a book of poetry. Yet I'm not gutted or regretful right now, motherhood has temporarily filled this space. I think I'm still relatively young, there is still time. Being a working single mom in a foreign country is exhaustive, at the end of the day I'm pretty brainless and ambition-less. I definitely settled for job security over satisfaction- not to say I don't enjoy teaching, I do, its challenging, I grow constantly, but its not my passion. Of course there are those single moms who somehow find the time, energy and stamina to do their passions along with motherhood, my hats off to them. For now my energy is going into teaching and motherhood.
2. They put their career above friends and family: Having boundaries between work and home is very vital in Taiwan, or at least at my previous job because there is a social pressure to self sacrifice family time for boss brown nosing, and I refuse to play that game. At the same time I have been reflective enough to admit that I probably have more patience as a teacher than as a mother. At the end of the day,after repeating myself to a class of 4 year olds (or 12 year olds) I am done. This is where I rely on Grace. I do make the most of my time with my daughter, long bedtime routines, after-school activities together (like biking), weekend trips, and international travel during holiday time.
3.They neglect their health: I think I have given more thought, energy and priority to my health during my 30's than my 20's. Being a working single mom I have had to learn to be efficient and frugal when it comes to eating clean and working out smart. I don't have a Hollywood body-type, I mean I enjoy eating, I regularly splurge on chocolate, wine, beer, etc, but I definitely do not neglect my health. Perhaps my sleep has been less during the majority of my 30's, 6-7 hours a night (but since moving to Yilan I have been getting more than 8 hours of sleep). I think I am more healthy and stronger in my 30's.
|My 39th birthday lunch, Pequ Division, Myanmar|
4. They miss the chance to have kids: Another mistake I did not make. Also not having kids is only a mistake if you really wanted them, and even then, women are still having babies in their early 40's, so if someone chooses not to have children there is no mistake in that.
5. They don't spend enough time with their aging parents: During my first 2 years of my 30's I lived with my folks when I got pregnant and had my baby, so I think those two years alone was a concentrated amount of time to have spent with them! Having said that, we do Skype each other weekly, I go home every year and a half and they just recently just visited me in Taiwan. They are aging so gracefully I don't feel like I am missing any chances to spend time with them, but I do feel like my daughter is missing a chance to spend time with her grandparents.
6. They don't set up financial foundations for the future: Ok I have my cousin Ben and father to thank for establishing a monthly setup where 25 bucks a month goes into some kind of fund which grows, is protected from market ups and downs and will be available in 25 years. I don't think I voluntarily would have set this up. Thanks guys! I suppose this is an area I can still learn more about though.
7. They stop having fun: Sometimes I feel like a bitch when I have to discipline my kid, repeat myself, etc and that's definitely no fun. Its a burden to be the sole disciplinarian, when I'm fun loving by nature. So I try do fun activities with my kid, play the games she likes, etc and find that balance with what I think is fun. A few times a year I really let my hair down, but generally fun for me is doing something outdoors with my daughter.
|Z applying thenaka paste to my face, 39th birthday|
My 30's can be summed up best by my 39th birthday. I was in Myanmar waking up at 4:30 am, drinking coffee, hopped in the back of an open pickup truck, huddled under blankets, watching the sunrise with my daughter and a French woman. We were going to the end of a teak plantation (Pequ division) to see some elephants and their handlers temporarily damn a rain forest stream for the elephants, while they camped there for the next few weeks.
|My 39th Birthday Elephant Adventure|
We got to hang out with the handlers and their wives and children and then we hopped on some elephants while we watched their work elephants make the damn. The animals worked hard, uprooting old, majestic trees and dragging it back. The nursing mother was allowed to take a break during the duration of her nursing baby elephant (several years). It was an amazing experience to watch how they worked with elephants, how this has been going on for thousands of years. The handlers were not cruel, they were very poor and got a small cut of the government fee we had paid. We emptied our purses and bags of pencils, earrings, lips balm to give their wives as we left.
|French traveler with Z|
As if our day couldn't get any better, it did. We had an outstanding lunch that my daughter was allowed to "help" prepare. The little floor-less roadside cafe was across from the only school, a bamboo hut separated into three classes by age. There were no books, three teachers and three blackboards. It was humbling as a teacher from Taiwan, who teaches privileged students from wealthy families in a private school. My heart was bursting in my chest. Anything that can humble me with love, without criticism is a gift. This experience was an unforgettable day for me and my daughter, a memorable birthday that summarizes my 30's that were full of favor, blessing, and adventure.
|School children, Pequ Division, Myanmar, my 39th birthday|
Township Education Officer Oaktwin
Pequ Division, Myanmar
c/o Daw Myat Myat See
Mile (20) B.E.H.S. Oaktwin
|School children, Pequ Division, Myanmar, my 39th birthday|