34 Random Life Lessons: An Open Letter to a Daughter on Her Mother's 34th Birthday

34 Random Life Lessons: An Open Letter to a Daughter on Her Mother's 34th Birthday

Dear Baby Cookies,

Last year I wrote to you about how to survive a Christmastime birthday. This year I'd like to bestow upon you 34 pieces of advice, i.e. one piece of advice for each year I've been on this rotating mound of rock and rapidly melting glacier and Honey Boo Boo Child.

In no particular order.

  1. Practice. Do your homework. Take time to cultivate your talents. Even if you're the best singer/writer/quarterback/manicurist/scientist in your fifth grade class, if you don't keep working at it and honing your skills, eventually the rest of the class will catch up to you.
  2. But at the same time, have fun. I will probably want to steer you towards the fine arts, because that's my jam. If you'd rather be playing hockey, please tell me. If I put up a stink, remind me about how I quit basketball in eighth grade, much to my father's chagrin.
  3. No matter how much you love the Betsy-Tacy books (and you will!) do not attempt to wear a pompadour to school. It's not worth the ridicule. And you really will look insane.
  4. You may never find use for calculus in your daily life (lord knows I haven't), but you will eventually need to know how to add and subtract fractions.
  5. Write thank you notes right away. If you don't, it will eat at your soul until you have to find all new friends and family members because of the shame.
  6. Look beyond the best seller lists. Seek out the books no one is talking about.
  7. Don't play The Sims. In fact, don't play any video games ever, unless you want to wake up one day and wonder where half your life has gone.
  8. Be judicious in your TV watching. Just because it's "on" doesn't mean it's worth your time, especially if it's on Bravo, TLC, or CBS.
  9. Along those lines, never be afraid to purge -- from your DVR or your closets or your purse. Getting rid of clutter is immensely freeing.
  10. That said, keep all of your old high school dance dresses. You may need them later for a Halloween costume or for your own daughter to use for dress up.
  11. If you find yourself wearing sweatpants out of the house on a daily basis, it's time to reevaluate your life choices.
  12. In school, there are always going to be the guys whom it's acceptable to "like." You may find yourself liking these guys, which is fine. But it's also fine to like the nice, quiet, nerdy guy who plays trombone. Don't ever let what's acceptable to others dictate how you live your life.
  13. Learn how to spell. Learn how to use proper punctuation. Correct your grammatical errors, whether on a homework assignment or on Facebook. You'll be better for it.
  14. Learn to cook and challenge yourself to use unfamiliar, possibly scary ingredients. You'll be better for that too.
  15. Never leave your drink unattended at a party.
  16. If someone  at a fraternity house tells you to order a whisky and amaretto, don't do it. Either this person is lying or they have no idea what they're talking about.
  17. Drink lots of water. Eat lots of fiber.
  18. Pay just enough attention to popular culture to be able to pronounce the name Ke$ha (or its 2023 equivalent) without looking like a grandpa.
  19. Carry a big purse filled with a supply of tissues, lip balm, Advil, feminine hygiene products, mints, paper, pens, and change. You or some stranger in need will thank you someday. Big purses are also good for sneaking candy into the movie theater, not that I would ever do such a thing.
  20. Learn a foreign language that people actually speak somewhere in the world. It's fun that I can read Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, but I can't really discuss it with too many people unless I conduct a seance.
  21. Don't post the same things on Twitter that you post on Facebook. It's annoying. And lazy.
  22. Go away to college. Get away from your family, your grade school and high school friends, your neighborhood. Branch out.
  23. Don't move your dorm room furniture without first discussing it with your college roommate.
  24. Take long walks whenever you can. In fact, never drive when you can walk. It's good exercise, it clears your head, and you might get whistled at on the street (not as exciting when you're 18, but sometimes just the pick-me-up you need when you're a 34-year-old mother of two.)
  25. Water your plants. If you don't, apparently they die.
  26. Keep a journal, because you'll forget things.
  27. Your favorite musicians will eventually stop writing about love and heartbreak and how unfair life is and will eventually move on to some experimental shit that makes your ears bleed. Don't let this sully their original works.
  28. The first two seasons of The Walking Dead are garbage. The third season, however, is quite good.
  29. It's pretty much the opposite for the Hunger Games books.
  30. If you cut it off, Barbie's hair will not grow back.
  31. And even though yours will, if your hairstylist ever suggests anything to you resembling a mullet, turn tail and run immediately.
  32. Tights are not pants, honey, and they never will be.
  33. Life is not a Disney movie. You don't need to find your prince in order to feel validated. (But if you feel like wearing a fancy dress and a tiara, by all means do it. Even if it's a Tuesday.)
  34. Never fall for the "You're breaking your grandmother's/mother's/father's/grandfather's heart" line. You're not. They'll love you no matter what. Even if you're a godless liberal heathen with three earrings in your ears and a Jem tattoo. You live your life the way you want to live it. Just promise me you'll be a more productive citizen of the world than your average Kardashian.

Happy Birthday to us!

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