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I notice it almost every day when I look in the mirror.

And I noticed it BIGTIME in our recent family pictures . I look 32. Maybe older. My insides still feel 22, and it's a down right shock everyday when I look in the mirror and don't see the face that I feel like I should have. (My eyes are a story all on their own.)

I also notice it when I say things like "I am not the maid of this house" and "do you think the garbage is going to take itself out?".  All things my own mother said.

And I felt especially old the other day as we were on campus at BYU. Maddy had club volleyball tryouts, so we made it a family event. Since I had all 3 little boys with me, who thought that the bleachers and the basketball hoops were early Christmas gifts, I thought I would treat them to some french fries at the eatery across the parking lot. (I was also treating myself to some temporary sanity, and all of the other people in the gym to some relief from the Grant Boys.)

And while we were there- me with my 3 boys, and the college students with their books, backpacks, and iPods- I sat deep in thought... reminiscing about my college days. Remembering what was important to me then. What worries I had. What I wish I had known. And thinking "if I could go back and do it all over knowing then what I know now... what would I do different?"

And I would do so many things differently. So many things.

I would have taken my education more seriously.
I would have worked less.
I would have dated nicer boys.

I would have dated more boys.
I would have traveled more. 
I would have learned more. 
I would have experienced more.
Most importantly, I would have enjoyed my single years more instead of worrying, and fretting, and worrying, and fretting that "the one" was going to get away, or that he would never come.
I would have taken the time to get to know myself better.  

And then I started to think about the future. Fast forwarding to 42. And wondering what kinds of things I would look back on and wish I had done differently- now.

Will I wish I had just let the kids jump on the couch cushions?
Not worried about stupid things like our house and landscaping?
Given more time and attention to my extended family?
Visited my Gramma more?
Said "I love you" more?
Spent more time with our kids doing kid stuff? Teenager stuff?
I will wish I had practiced more patience with our kids. I already wish that at the end of every day.

And then I started to panic. Wondering about everything I am doing wrong. Wondering if I am doing anything right.

And then Jack put his hands in the ketchup. And reality told me that I can only do what I can do. So, at that moment, I grabbed a wipe, wiped his hands clean. And said I love you.

While walking back to the gym, a college girl walked by us and said "cute boys", and then flashed us a smile that told me she was looking forward to the day when she would be done with college books, and instead reading to her "someday children".

And I wanted to tell her... enjoy your college time. Because soon enough, you will be cleaning ketchup from tiny, chubby hands. Looking at 32 year old aging eyes. And wondering where the time went. Enjoy your "selfish years"- the years when all you have to do is worry about you!  These are the years when you are filling up your reserves, preparing for the day when little hands, and hungry teenagers, and a tired, over worked husband will need every bit of you that you've got.  

Oh, and date nice boys. And study really hard. And do something that you love. Just work on making you the best you that you can be. And those talents you've been given- USE THEM! Oh, and travel, because it's so much harder once you have a family to take care of. And when you do meet Mr. Right, make sure he has a sense of humor... and call your Gramma! And... and... and... enjoy the moment.

Really. Enjoy the moment.


G-rant said…
get over it. FRILUFTSLIV its a Norwegian saying, look it up. Fine here it is - Friluftsliv is often expressed as "Slowing down and enjoying the journey."
Alifinale said…
I think that I am 20 still and it is weird to me that I am quickly moving farther away from that age. But once again you put your thoughts (that are often so similar to mine) so well and makes me think. I hope I can enjoy the moment and appreciate the past without longing for it.
Aimee said…
I am so with you Mandee. I was just going on and on about this today with Ben. I think way too much about what "could" have been done differently and not enough about what a fantastic life I do have.
amanda jane said…
Thank you. And for the record, having never met you in real life, you don't look a day over 27. REALLY.
k8shoe said…
I agree with amanda jane. I look older than you and I'm not quite 30 yet (two more years....crap!). I so enjoy where I am now much more than where I was when I was 20, so I look back and think I should have done lots of things different but I'm glad I'm not there anymore.
Anonymous said…
I love this post. I find myself pondering when I'm in Utah what I would say to "college me." OH the advice I would give her!!

And I'm with everyone else, having never met look about 25!
grandma jojo said…
mandee you know that some of the kids in the family still ask, when looking at your family pictures, which one is the mom? so you can't be looking old.
i love the friluftsliv comment. it is so true. i look back and wish i had enjoyed more of the journey. i love that you wiped the ketchup off and said, i love you.
Deby said…
Hey there! I look in the mirror sometimes and am shocked at the reflection that I see staring back at me. Why don't I look like my 23 year old self? Who is that lady with the crowsfeet? Yikes! I'm almost 38!!

Life is filled with so many woulda, coulda, shoulda's. I know. I have made SO many mistakes in my life that I wish I could change. I feel that I could write a book on what choices NOT to make.

But then I stop and think that if I went back and changed everything - would I have the happy life that I have now? Would I have had Katya? Would she be as well adjusted as she is? Would I have had two kids when I was in my 30's? I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't have any kids after 30.

And then I look forward to my future. I have so many choices still to make. I wonder how many of them I will look back on when I am 80 and say "boy that was stupid".
Neva said…
Mandee-bug, you will never look old always young and beautiful you and Abby both, never worry about aging
Love you!
Abby said…
Aren't Mom's always supposed to think your pretty?
Jeff's advice would be: Choose your battles wisely, don't get mad about the little things!
Just take your meds and everything will be ok!
k8shoe said…
Thanks for this post, by the way. I hope it's ok, but I used some of your advice on my younger sister who needs some good direction right now!
Memzy said…
Hey Mandee. Remember me? I'm Emily Matson's sister in law and we knew eachother from the stake dances in high school. Anyway, I wanted to say hi and tell you that two of my boys have your boys names as well: Jack and Charlie. Good taste you have. My sil's convinced me to start blogging recently and I'm not so sure about it but if you want to check it out
Memzy said…
Oops! This is Emily (Parks) Waite.
Amy Coontz said…
SO weird! I have been thinking a lot this week, about how we always seem to be living three or four days ahead of ourselves!! It seems so hard to enjoy the moment with five kids and busy, busy schedules. Sometimes it seems Jim and I only see each other is in the drive way, as one is leaving and the other coming home. My goal is to try harder to just live in the moment.

PS: you love FABULOUS!! But I so know what you mean. One of the good things of having kids at a young age, is the looks of astonishment when I tell someone I have a 15 year old.
And don't forget that.. often we get older with or without making mistakes in our life, we become wiser than when we were younger. The good part of being older is that we can pass the experience to the younger ones.

The matter is no matter how old the person is or looks older; the matter is all of the good thing happening in your present life (married, kids, and the loves by friends and family around us)
emily said…
Thank you for this post. I know exactly how you feel. I think as parents, life has a way of passing us by and before we know it we look in the mirror and we have become someone we don't recognize. All I can say is that I have tried my best to simplify my life so that at the end of everyday I can kiss my kids and look them in the eye and they know, really know that I love them.

I was diagnosed with heart disease three years ago, and when that happened it made me really take a step back and look at what is really important, and at the end of every day I found that the only thing that really matters is that my kids and my husband know that I love them. So no matter what mistakes I make (because there are many) as long as I can kiss them and tell them they are loved, I have done my job for the day.

So, take heart, you are not alone, and you are doing GREAT!!!

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