35- and 19-year-old me: happiness changes with age

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

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Today I turn 35 and I have to say that I didn’t notice much difference between 30 and 31 or 31 and 32. I really don’t even think there has been a real change from 30 to 35. So how far back do I have to go before I reach an age where my life really was different?

The obvious answer is the age I was the day before we found out my wife was growing a human inside her. When I was 29 we stayed up past 9 p.m. and we went to fancy restaurants for our anniversary.Certainly, there were differences, but not substantial enough to write a post about. For that I’ve decided to go even deeper into my life—into the dark ages of the 1990s to share the things that made me happy then and contrast them with the things that make me happy now.

Back to when I was 19. There are a couple of different categories when I’m comparing the two different me’s: the things that are almost the same but not and the things that I just straight out didn’t know about when I was younger me.

Let’s start with some of the close but not quite ideas. These are a comparison of things that made younger me happy and their counterpart of 35-year-old me. The basic thoughts aren’t that far off—I liked to sleep, I liked to eat, I liked music—but the specifics aren’t even close…

What made me happy at 19:

  • Just one word spoken to me by a cute girl.
  • Getting to wake up from a nap at 9 p.m. And then staying up until 7 a.m.
  • Finding $5 in my pocket.
  • A new Beastie Boys album.
  • Finding out Pulp Fiction was playing on a television station I had.
  • Spending my paycheque on clothes, on music and on movies.

What makes me happy at 35:

  • Just one word spoken to me by one of my two cute girls.
  • Getting to go to sleep at 9 p.m. and not waking up until 7 a.m.
  • Finding $5 in my pocket.
  • Listening to the soothing sounds of the Mother Goose Club.
  • Watching Frozen in bed as a family.
  • Having $13 left from each paycheque after heat, mortgage, car and gas to buy pieces of pizza with.

And then there are the many things I just had wrong thoughts about. They were my young thoughts—things that a 19-year-old who had never been wrong before knew would or would not come to be. When I thought about my future I thought in hours in the future, not ¬†in years. If I pictured kids, I pictured them being teenagers, not infants. I didn’t know as much as I thought…

19-year-old me:

  • Thought the best times of my life would be spent with my friends drinking beer on a ski hill or in a bar.
  • Thought I’d argue to the death with anyone who thought my opinion on anything was wrong, even if halfway through the argument I actually thought they were right.
  • Knew that if I ever had kids I’d need to have a boy and a girl.
  • Thought I was too old for stuffed animals.
  • Felt comfortable spending my paycheque on heat, on a mortgage and on gas.
  • Believed retirement plans were for 35-year-olds.
  • Thought I knew what it would feel like to love someone as much as parents love their children.
  • Never ¬†thought I’d be able to change a diaper or hold a baby comfortably.
  • Thought I’d hate the idea of my daughters ever dating.
  • Didn’t think even one time that I’d ever be able to raise strong, smart and healthy women.

35-year-old me:

  • Thinks the best times are spent with my best friends who happen to be 2 and 4 and prefer drinking apple juice in a fort we’ve built in our living room.
  • Knows that I’m wrong all the time. If my daughters want to tell me that the sky is pink, I bet they’re right.
  • Thinks having two girls is the most perfect thing in the world. For us.
  • Admits that even nights when I’m not with my kids, I don’t want to sleep without a teddy bear.
  • Thinks a truly great time can be had setting up an Easter egg hunt, carving a pumpkin and assembling a bike on Christmas Eve.
  • Even more strongly believes retirement plans are for 19-year-olds.
  • Can’t imagine never holding a baby again (even though we’re done ourselves).
  • Can’t wait to meet any partners my daughters bring home. I feel we’re teaching them the right things to value in others.
  • Can change a diaper in the dark, underwater, with oven mitts on my hands.
  • Is maybe more proud than he should be to be raising two strong, smart and healthy women.


2 responses to “35- and 19-year-old me: happiness changes with age”

  1. Larry says:

    Nice post. Great lists. I think you’ve matured. It’s amazing how having kids changes us in such profound ways.
    I could go for that sleep issue as well (9-7).

  2. I drink my beer in the living room fort instead of out with friends, so that’s different yet sort of the same. Kids are great. I’m 41 and have a 10, 5 and 2 year old. I used to wish I’d had them earlier in life, but really, they keep me young and full of anticipation for what they’ll do everyday or become someday.

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