Sometimes I like to punish myself by cleaning. Like, I’ll get this idea in my head that I can totally tackle all five hundred books on the bookshelf in under 15 minutes and then accomplish exactly nothing for the next 24 hours. The other day I actually found not one, not two, but six copies of Oh, The Places You’ll Go. We can’t manage to keep paper towels in stock but Suess? We’ve got you covered.

True story, and listen, I’m not knocking this truly inspiring piece of literary genius. Seriously, it’s like the holy grail of Suess, right? But do we really need six copies of the same book and one in Spanish?

The answer is, si unfortunately because it’s one of those books, the frequently gifted you’re-on-the-cusp-of-something-hopefully-amazing-but-probably-less-than-amazing kind that almost always comes with an inscription from a dearly departed gym teacher or well meaning neighbor or the Cat in the Hat, and so I feel kinda torn about just saying “your mountain (or a donation bin) is waiting so get on your way.”

I mean, do I tear out the dedication page for posterity?

Donate the books, inscriptions and all, and just hope no one’s rolling over in their grave?

Or in the spirit of all things unnecessary and idiotic, do I instead, dear reader, tell you the cold, hard truth about this Seussian spectacular that undoubtedly you, yourself own six copies of as well and impart life advice I have no business imparting?

If you chose Option C, then congratulations. Today is your day because you, my friend, are in for a real treat and possibly some mediocre 12th-grade Spanish (Sorry, Senora Morache). With no further ado, some advice for the graduates:

Lesley Kirschner’s Life Advice
for Young People
(anyone under the age of 40 and childless)
on the Cusp of
Something Hopefully Amazing Who Passed 12th-Grade Spanish
Stuff I Wish Someone Had Warned Me About
Well Before I Procreated

You can steer yourself any direction you choose… like over the embankment in front of Starbucks and a bunch of moms who you’re pretty sure will forever refer to you as the woman who thought it was a good idea to double-fist a couple of lattes, lose brief control of the steering wheel and almost take out a fire truck. (It came outta nowhere, people!). You will avoid these women at all costs and social gatherings for the better part of a decade, blaming the whole event on your (nonexistent) twin sister, Tamara, who also stalked Brody Mallard in high school and maybe changed into a pair of underwear she didn’t pay for mid-aisle at a Marshall’s once.

You’ll look up and down streets,
look ’em over with care,
about some you will say
I don’t choose to go there… 
and then, don’t fool yourself, there will be times, (more than I’ll admit to on paper) that you’ll drive down Skunk Lane or Sturges Ridge Rd. and think, “Damn, people… what y’all do for a living?”

Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you…
Or you may get this thing called fallen arches, which essentially can be traced back to those collective 180 pounds you gained over the course of three pregnancies and so will, unfortunately, resign yourself to a lifetime of stylish orthopedic footwear or alternatively, jamming your size 10 wides into some (trust me, it’s never worth it) glass slippers only to live out your 40s covered in Bandaids and bunions.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best… except on a Spirit Airlines flight with a toddler who might spend the entire (very long) three hours to Florida running up and down the aisles with two Crayola crayons like Eloise at the Plaza, singing Nobody but Me” while you make yourself a nice cocktail of Xanax and a very adulterated Shirley Temple, followed by some controlled vomiting into your purse because you couldn’t find the air sick bag. You will swear never to travel again with your children or consume tuna.

Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place, The Waiting Place… aka known as the Middlebrook pick-up line. If I could leave you with one piece of advice and one piece only, here it is: DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get into line to pick up your child anywhere in the vicinity of 2:50 p.m. unless you enjoy losing feeling in your legs, sitting awkwardly in line next to the other mother you reamed out last Spring because your daughter got cast as livestock in the play she was directing or handing your son 12 granola bars to open and mutilate to keep him from screaming. You’re better than this.

You’ll find the bright places where the boom bands are playing… in your tween daughter’s room, so loud the people in Westport can hear her, singing “Boss Bitch” at the top of her lungs. The bright place will possibly come in the form of something called an ocular migraine. Translation: pyrotechnic light shows headlining your peripheral vision. Alexa will mysteriously go missing sometime the next morning. Admit to nothing.

All Alone! Whether you like it or not,
alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot… 
but only pre-kids, so enjoy peeing without an audience or eating a complete meal without someone sitting on your lap or sticking their fingers in your salad. Live it up while you’re still young and continent enough to not urinate every time you sneeze. Keep extra underwear on hand. Marshall’s has a great selection in case you’re in the market. Trust me baby, you’re going places!

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.