Although I entered my thirties with trepidation, it turned out getting older has its perks, beyond just reevaluating dating and career decisions and no longer being carded at grocery stores.
1. Picking Battles
The human brain keeps developing through adolescence and into our twenties, changing the way we react overtime. It’s not uncommon in our teens and twenties to blow up at the slightest emotional provocation and then regret it (so-called amygdala hijack).
I’ve certainly mellowed out in my thirties. For example, the other day, my neighbor who likes to wear a Make America Great Again hat and a t-shirt emblazoned with “U.S. Border Patrol,” left a note on my car threatening to tow it, because it was parked near his house. I took a deep breath and knocked on his door, my two children in tow. “Hello, neighbor,” I said, smiling. “Is this your note?”
“Yeah, sorry,” he mumbled. “I thought you were one of them soccer moms who park here.” I wondered if he’d personally observed these women’s children playing ball or seen them pushing soccer balls through their birth canals to warrant the “soccer mom” title. I would have asked, in my twenties. Instead, though, I wished the neighbor a good day and left.
Now we are besties who go shopping and get mani/pedis together. Just kidding. But at least we’re civil.
2. Baking for all the Right Reasons
A delicious pie can welcome new people into the building, jazz up a dinner party, say “thank you” or successfully bribe a child.
But women are also taught, from an early age, that we ought to be the ones taking the blame, making nice, responding to belligerence with kindness and with pies. Well, enough of that.
In the past, I’ve baked to smooth tense situations over. How can one withstand a homemade treat, bringing good tidings in guise of flaky pastry, warm apples and vanilla? How would one not regret the error of his ways and change forever? How? Easily, it turns out. I found that conciliatory pies just made things more awkward. A pie is just a pie.
3. Taking Things at Face Value
Poet Maya Angelou once said, “When people tell you who they are, believe them.” Maybe it’s a colleague who’s got a perpetual bone to pick. Maybe it’s an acquaintance who always gives us the cold shoulder.
But we keep on trying. I’ll be nicer. I’ll let this one go. Maybe she’s just having a bad day. Maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe I should apologize if a stranger blames my religion for every ill in the universe. Maybe I should lighten up and laugh when someone asks how far along I am when I’m not actually pregnant, every time we meet. But even channeling Debbie Reynolds and tap dancing to the “Good Morning” tune on top of the playground slide or office copier will not make grumpy people nicer.
4. Time Management
The older we get, the better we multitask. A mother might get a moment to watch Netflix, but she’ll also be doing planks, filling out daycare forms, folding laundry and bathing her kid and a dog. A recent study found that working mothers multitask 10 hours more per week than working fathers.
To a twenty-something, multitasking may seem downright depressing. Now, in my thirties, the reaction is a mix of awe and a whole lot of gratitude.