Today I turn thirty. I like it because 3 is an odd number and a prime number, which feels safe (OCD, remember?), and I’m still not as old as I’ve always felt, which is about forty-five. I don’t think I’m going to miss my twenties, which were kind of awkward and melodramatic, but I met my husband towards the end of them and I learned a whole lot about who I am and who other people are, so I don’t regret them. It’s just nice to be moving into a new decade of motherhood and love and hope and bravery and faith and all those wonderful things. I really am looking forward to my thirties immensely.
So in honor of my birthday, here is a list of thirty things – anything, everything. I really am writing as topics leap into my mind, so this could go anywhere. (I’m wild!)
1. When I was little, I made up the term “smack-smack” to describe things that were sophisticated and elegant because I didn’t know the word “chic.” I actually don’t think I ever used it in conversation, just in my own head. If one of my older cousins or aunts had a really cute outfit and looked extremely well put-together, she was smack-smack.
2. I can pick up a spider, mouse, or frog without a moment’s hesitation, but I am utterly terrified of lizards and snakes.
3. Sometimes I steal my husband’s snacks on a whim and then panic and try to cover it up by refilling the package with similar food. He catches me every time, but then I do it again and I really think he won’t notice. Y’all, I don’t know. It’s pathological.
4. Since I was 9 or so I’ve written a sporadically-produced neighborhood newsletter called The Midway Times in which I roast my family members. They clamor for more. I have a rabid fan base of tens of people.
5. Speaking of writing, I do it a lot. It’s not really a hobby so much as a thing I just have to do. I fit it into the margins, corners, and cubbyholes of my life. I write on my lunch break. I edit chapters on Google Drive on my phone while sitting on the toilet. (Ok, probably TMI.)
6. I have a pet hedgehog named Bernie that I’ve paid maybe 10 minutes of attention to since James was born (don’t worry, he’s being taken care of by Andrew, who is amazing with animals and who he likes better than me anyway). I feel kind of awful about that because I used to love him so much. It’s not that I love him less now, there’s just so much more to do, and I feel incredibly guilty if I don’t spend my free time playing with James because I get to see him so little during the day. So I guess I have not only Mom Guilt but Hedgehog Guilt too.
7. I think that people who don’t use the Oxford comma are slightly shady.
8. My favorite celebrities are Joyce Meyer, Alex Trebek, Oprah, Andy Griffith, and Mr. Rogers. Yeah, I know.
9. I took piano lessons for a few years in junior high, and ended up playing some pretty complex material, but I played by note only and wasn’t that interested in it. Even now I can’t hear the difference between a C and an E flat. I’ve always been a little jealous of people who can play by ear.
10. I vividly remember eating my mom’s strawberry chapstick from Avon while hiding behind the sofa when I was about 3. It was delicious!
11. My brother was born when I was 8 years old, and he was pretty much my baby doll. I used to dress him in girl clothes, put curlers in his hair, and give him baths in a galvanized tub outside with the dog.
12. I was briefly a Girl Scout but quit when I discovered that my troop didn’t wear uniforms or sell cookies. I was literally in it for the food and the clothes.
13. I tried to play basketball in high school because I was super tall and the coach assured me that I would be great. It was very, very humiliating.
14. I never had a boyfriend in high school.
15. I never dated anyone long-term until I met Andrew, and we got married about 8 months after we met. Online. And then got pregnant on our honeymoon. (Only recently have I thought about the fact that my mom must have been having a rapid succession of silent heart attacks.)
16. Andrew is truly one of the best people I know. Every time I start getting snippy and uppity, I expect him to react similarly…and every single time, he reacts by doing or saying what’s best for me. For me. Not for him. Like, how did I even find this person? He’s practically ready for sainthood.
17. Sometimes I call him Fergus, because I’m pretty sure that whoever wrote the script to the Disney movie Brave modeled the dad on Andrew. They are exactly. Alike.
18. I’ve never been offered a cigarette or drugs. A little disappointing because I was really prepared from all the D.A.R.E. training.
19. I was 99.999% certain that James was a girl. I even secretly called him Adelina for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Now I can’t imagine having a girl and if we ever have/adopt another child, I kind of want another boy. (They’re just so sweet and adorable and they smell a little like puppies when they’ve been playing outside. Eeeep!)
20. The virtue that I possess in the least abundance is patience.
21. I always like to have a plan. As Andrew points out, I also like to have a backup plan – and then a backup plan for the backup plan. I’m 100% anti-surprise. I’ve given up trying to be more spontaneous and exciting; it ain’t me.
22. When we were little, my cousin Morgan and I used to “play funeral.” One of us would be the dead person and the other would be combination mourner and preacher. After the preacher preached the funeral, the mourner would turn on one of our granny’s cassette tapes of old Cajun men wailing hymns in French. Then the mourner would cry and sob over the dead person, who would miraculously come back to life, and there was much rejoicing. We were really weird.
23. I’ve only been hunting once, with my Pawpaw, who refused to take me again because I talked too much and ate his stash of Little Debbie snack cakes and freaked out when a lizard came into the deer stand.
24. When I was 4 or 5, I was riding with my Pawpaw when he hit and killed a raccoon. Being a Cajun man with an extremely undiscriminating palate, he stopped and picked up the raccoon to put into a gravy. (Yes, literally roadkill.) I pitched a fit and screamed and hollered until he had to turn back and replace the raccoon on the road because I insisted that its mother would come looking for it and would never know what had happened to it. Pawpaw loves to tell that story, although I think he’s still a little bitter about the wasted raccoon.
25. Besides Andrew, my mom is the the person I’m closest to in the world. She’s 5’2 and petite (I’m 5’11 and…not petite) and extremely kind, funny, and smart. She’s a kindergarten teacher and puts her heart and soul into her job, with the result that high school kids who had her as a teacher still adore her. She was a nurse until her 30s, when she went back to school and graduated at the top of her class with a bachelor’s degree in education. I’m so, so proud to be her daughter.
26. My stepdad, Pappy, is hilarious. He checks his rain gauge every day and records the results on a calendar. At the end of the month, he compares his total to the National Weather Service’s. He also wears cataract sunglasses when he’s driving (although he’s never had cataracts), with the result that he looks like a blind man driving a minivan.
27. It took me a long time to warm up to Pappy. He’s so different from the rest of my family – they’re loud and boisterous and funny, while sometimes you forget that he’s there until he says something wry and clever. He’s been an amazing father to me, though, and he’s as steady and reliable as the sun. Plus he has the best quirks and secretly loves to be made fun of (that’s what we tell him anyway).
28. I love photography and used to have a small independent photography business, but I didn’t have time to do that AND be a mama AND work full time as an accountant AND write. I’d love to take it up again one day, though.
29. I’m a pen snob.
30. My favorite Bible verse is Hosea 2:14 – Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. Kind of an unusual one, but it speaks to me. I often get busy and distracted and want to run my own life, and I have to be led into the wilderness and told tenderly that I’m beautiful and beloved and muleheaded and that I need to give it all back to Him.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any suggestions to make 30 my best year yet!