Hindsight’s 20/20 — better, if you’ve had Lasik.

We’re getting to the age where “the kids just don’t listen,” when the Important Lessons About Life that we parents feel compelled to pass on to the children are met with derisive snorts or, worse, blank stares.

So I’ve decided to tell my younger self a few things. Obviously, she can’t listen — but just like a real parenting moment, I’ll feel better for just having said them.

mid-1970s. Explains the photo quality. And the child.

1. Get into the habit of washing your face at night and using some kind of moisturizer.
What, you think you’ll be young forever? Obviously not. And though your eyebrows and eyelashes are invisible to the naked eye when not painted on, you gotta take that stuff off at night. Yes, it’s a pain because of all the waterproofing and such, but just do it. I wish I could tell you what the difference will be, but since I never did it with any regularity, I have no idea.

2. Thoughts become things….choose the good ones. (Courtesy of The Universe)
Ok, you won’t be ready to embrace  all the groovy self-empowerment language until later when you meet your friend Bobbi. But it will help you in the longer run to understand that self-fulfilling prophesies aren’t just something you hear about in Philosophy or English class, but actually impact your life. Watch the way you talk to yourself, about yourself. Be kind. The Universe sent me a note (what, you don’t get notes from The Universe?) the other day:

Every compliment, criticism, promotion, setback, good vibe, cough or really long line you have to wait in, Alyson, is a gift that was meticulously designed to make possible your becoming more than who you were, and ultimately, happier than ever before, as we dance into forever.

Another surprise? You’ll actually look forward to that daily email from The Universe. Go figure.

3. Finish what you start.
I’m talking about the little things, like the curtains you started to make, or the scrapbook you started to put together….or the big things, like grad school. Don’t get 10-15-20 years out, surrounded by bins of half-organized photos or outdated Education textbooks and wish you had more time or energy. Do it while you can. (However, avoid staying up all night to do it. All-nighters never helped anyone, contrary to what your college roommates might have been trying to demonstrate.)

4. You’re not fat, and you never were.
Out of shape and soft, yes, but not fat. There IS a difference, learn it well. Embrace the gym before you feel forced or compelled to by a freakish, fanatical desire to live forever (yes, that’s coming). You’ll discover that you’re stronger than you ever believed you could be, despite the incredible (and mysterious) lack of cartilage in that right knee. (You know, the one that hurts when you drink beer. {The doctors all loved that symptom.}) Don’t wait until you’re 33 to learn this.

1983. Raised Libby for Seeing Eye of Morristown. 8th grade.

5. You may not be madly in love with your red hair, but guess what? No gray! No color treatments! No triple processes! Love that red now, sistah!
I can’t even write about this with any authority — I have no vocabulary. I only know that you will not suffer the fate of your friends who are headed to a salon or the CVS every 4-6 weeks to deal with their roots. The only roots you have any interest in will be the ones in Ireland.

6. Those first days of motherhood are the most isolating in the world, and anyone who denies this must be living in a compound with other sister-wives.
Having that first baby will mean sitting topless and alone in your favorite chair (babe in arms) with the following supplies next to you: a large glass of water; Lanolin, tissues, a book and/or a magazine, the television remote, and the house phone. (Yeah, we still didn’t have mobile technology by that point.) You will become intimately knoweldgable about all things Law&Order, All My Children, Lifetime Television for Women (is there a worse name) and Regis & Kelly. And you will stay in that chair, topless, until the UPS man rings the bell and wakes both of you up, or Husband comes in (whichever comes first).

6a. Breastfeeding hurts like hell, even when you do it right. File that away, I’m not going to revisit this topic. Ow.

7. Your personal horizons will be broadened more than you ever believed they could be.
You will meet people, go places, and do things in your 30s and 40s that you can’t even begin to imagine. They’re not spectacular things in the manner of climbing K2 or running a marathon, but no less incredible: a destination birthday party with 12 of your best friends; witnessing first-hand the incredible grace and strength of a mother whose husband was killed in 9/11; owning (and really loving) a pickup truck; tattoos and piercings….

Venice 1986. Brother 1 and Mother too.

8. Your encyclopedic knowledge of music and lyrics from the Dawn of Music to current Billboard hits will be the source of much eye-rolling for your children.
And a source of much joy for you: “Oh, listen guys! This group is called Bread! Baby I’ma Want You….great song.” (Ok, it’s not a great song at all. But it’s great in the sense that the children will be horrified.)

9. Lasik will be perhaps the best thing you will ever spend money on.
It will change your life — no more night blindness (literally — where’s the clock? What time is it?). Run, don’t walk as soon as you hear that first radio ad.

10. You will read a short article about the comparison of mothering and cathedral-building, and it will resonate with you in a way that you didn’t expect.
The parenting gig, often falling to “just” me when Husband travels, is full of many really high highs and really low lows. I screw “it” up, they make me crazy, I get “it” right (for the instant), they make me believe, they make me better, I make them crazy….And “it” all happens in what feels like “a place in-between” that’s invisible. You will share the highs and lows with your partner, your friends, your own mother, but words will be inadequate to describe the grandeur and the grotesque. Sometimes the work is back-breaking and sometimes it’s soul-soothing, but it is always never ending. Back then, you had no way of understanding these complexities and contradictions. You still don’t.

10a. You are so so so right about Husband…well, then-Boyfriend.
He may have been The First, but he was always The Best, and he is The Last. How smart you were to metaphorically link arms with him and walk off across Healy Circle all those years ago. (Literally: the Tombs, some beer, and a power failure involved. But that’s not nearly as poetic.) Nice work, you.

SFS Ball at GU, Feb 1988. Harbin Hall, pre-meth lab days.

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6 Responses to “Hindsight’s 20/20 — better, if you’ve had Lasik.”

  1. Suniverse Says:

    I love this post.

    And I love how cute you two are! Adorable!
    Suniverse recently posted..But What Does That MEAN

    Alyson says:

    The hardest part of this list was culling it down — there is WAY more to tell myself. But I’ve decided to save it for my children. Get the most bang for their eye-rolling buck, as it were.

  2. Megan (Best of Fates) Says:

    I presume it was the hall that was pre-meth lab days, and not the two of you! And having to take it off at night is the reason I don’t wear mascara or eye-liner. I’m just far too lazy.

    p.s. This is an adorable list.

    Alyson says:

    Oh, right. Should’ve clarified the meth lab reference. Yes, we were not that entrepreneurial (nor immoral) — but a room in that residence hall at Georgetown was busted about a month ago for some kind of suspected drug lab.

    I work really hard to stay away from anything called “lab” — science, meth, blood, etc.

  3. liz Says:

    OK, that bright teal-y blue dress…in the dorm hallway…priceless!
    liz recently posted..I&8217m a Maven Oh Yes- I Am!

  4. Marcy Says:

    Excellent list, my dear friend!

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