Sometimes I picture the following conversation taking place in my head between my mother and some random stranger lady seated at the train station -because conversations held at airports or any other stations are too mainstream for the script in my head at least-upon taking a peek at my pictures which my mother is very busily going through on her tablet.
Stranger Lady: Awww is that your daughter?
Mommy dearest: (Looks up and smiles a wide one) Yes, this is my Maureen.
Stranger Lady: Lovely! How old is she?
Mommy dearest: She’s 360 months or there about.
Stranger Lady: Oh really? Great job girl. You do know how to raise ‘em!! (A very strong High five is exchanged) You know I have a son who is about 421 months old. He is the CEO of blah blah and very single. Maybe we should organize a play date some time soon.
Mother dearest: 0733 333…
Ha! That conversation would probably never happen seeing as my mum is so anti-technology. And yes that is the only reason. Anyway, since this is all about growing up and appreciating how far I’ve come, let me take you back in time and have conversations with a younger me struggling to grow up in this sometimes tumultuous, sometimes peaceful but always interesting life.
Dear 16 -19 year old Maureen,
First of all, I would like to tell you how proud I am of you. Look at you sweet 16 and all. Almost everyone expected you to turn out differently. Remember those “friends” mother didn’t like you hanging out with? Turns out she was on to something. They all dropped out of school (read, did not even join High School), got pregnant and guess what? They now look like 45-50 year olds! And not the Hollywood glamorous, sexy 45year old type…no no no! I’m talking about the beat up, almost grizzled, sad, little women with 3 or 4 kids (some of who are currently in High school and with terrorist-like behaviors) type. That Karma is really a B*tch I tell you!
I know you’re just discovering yourself, curves and boys. Also, no acne infestation! Yaay!! (Thank Heavens for your family’s good skin!) You have your first boyfriend but I have some sad news for you. He doesn’t get to see 30 like you. He gets killed off at 27 and the sad bit is that you will have lost touch and by the time of his untimely death you will not have spoken in years. *sobs on your behalf*
You’re doing ok so far and I bet you’re trying your best! I know you are going through a lot of emotions but just keep your focus. Well, you don’t get to become a dentist as was your plan with dad-the late-but you will be ok wherever you land. In fact, that landing will give you a new perspective on life as you will get to know it.
On a more serious note though, I wish you played a sport but of course you had to have your little irrational fear of falling and bruising your knees and arms. I also wish you ate a little healthier and drank more water because things get a little thick and it gets harder to maintain a lean physique. You will learn the hard way.
Enjoy writing letters and receiving them (there is always something romantic about handwritten letters) because some things called cellular phones take the world by storm and letters -save for bills and maybe cards- become extinct just like dinosaurs. It gets worse as you will find yourself communicating with just acronyms. Yup! SMH and LMAO and IKR become real, popular, understandable expressions and here you thought PTO and RSVP was all there was to it.
20-24 year old Maureen,
First things first… Major pat on your back! You are in uni plus you survived your teen years! But what’s with the phases? I think the people in your life didn’t really like you. I mean why would they let you dye your hair maroon? MAROON! Jeez! The nose piercing phase. The maybe I should become a nun phase. The tattoo phase…thank God you didn’t get a tattoo of some random guy’s face on your butt cheek or other disturbing tattoos for that matter and thank God you didn’t get into that Gothic phase because I think even Marilyn Manson would have come all the way and slapped some sense into you. Or the running away from home to go crash on a friend’s sofa and eat biscuits and beer for dinner on a good day because that will make you seem cool and bad ass phase. Or even worse yet the “I hate parents because they are so stupid and don’t know anything” phase.
Spontaneous was your middle name and partying like it was 1999 your all time game. I mean, you would party it up for three nights in a row and still consider a fourth! Resting was for losers huh! Being down for whatever, whenever was your motto and remember that residential toothbrush in your handbag? You were something else.
What if I tell you that later in life getting you out of the house becomes a task larger than mammoth? Getting you out will take too much effort and energy and those nights in the clubs will be gladly replaced with the much appreciated nights in bed or on the couch holding a remote control.
I forgive you though, especially for that maroon hair and I hope against hopes that it will never ever happen again in our life. Looking like a beetroot was not cute at all and it didn’t help that the color decided to last for forty years. Ugh! At least you enjoyed your early 20s and can retell of yourself later that you had a past juicy enough.
Later you will finally decide what you want out of this life but I will let you figure that out and see whether your dreams become valid.
25-29 year old Maureen,
Want to hear a funny thing between now and 30 (yes you get to see 30)… That big dreamer, observant, calm, composed, focused girl you were from age 11-18 makes a comeback! This is that life changing chapter in your life and so much happens. So many Firsts and so many Lasts as well. Your urge to see the world becomes stronger and you get determined to follow your dreams or die trying. You finally realize that it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are and you grab that realization and take off with it.
Not getting married to that guy was probably the smartest thing you ever did. As much as you were excited about the fact that you would be the first one to get married amongst your friends, you would also have had to be the first one to be really miserable.
You should see how short your list for “the ideal man” has gotten. It is almost funny as it now has only 4 items left on it, two of them being “Straight” and “Breathing”.
You are long done with the “I need a man who drives and has money” phase as you got to learn the hard way that Mr. Flashy lifestyle was actually Mr. Loans for years. Instead, your focus will be turned to men who will work with you and help make you a better person and help you achieve your dreams because by doing so, he is also majorly helping himself.
You will also forget about wanting to marry some big shot CEO and instead you become focused on becoming a CEO yourself.
This part of your life gives you a pretty good insight into what life is all about. You meet some amazing people and lose people as well and life goes on. You get to understand the meanings of “Alone” and “Lonely” and that there are people who are lonely even in marriage.
Also…Is that you I see changing bulbs, fixing broken pipes -with paper glue and sellotape- and rearranging heavy furniture all by yourself? What’s next…gardening and pasteurizing your own milk? Martha Stewart had better watch out!
There will be days when you won’t feel like getting out of bed but then you learn how to snap out of it quicker than lightning because sadness, happiness, laughter and tears are all in your mind’s possession.
30 year old Maureen,
I knew you would make me proud and get me here. Hasn’t it been a fantastic journey? You did screw up a few times. You also forgot to savor some moments. What’s important though is that you allowed yourself to live and learn. If our dad saw the woman you have become, he would be mighty proud. It wasn’t easy but you took every experience as a learning one and look at you now all ready for another 360 months and ready for whatever will come your way. At least you now know how to nourish your mind with only positive things and that absolutely anything you focus your mind on is achievable. I look forward to seeing you in your next 30…all 60 and flourishing and with wisdom to boot 😉 .
Love and Love,
360 months old you