Today I turn 35. In the words of one of my favorite TV shows, Sex and the City, “*%#! I’m old!”. I don’t know why, but 35 feels fully adult. I still felt “young” before today. Like, I’m older and wiser than all those “kids” in their 20s (in a cool way) but still pretty young. Yes, I have three kids. Yes, I have a nice house. Yes, I have 10+ years of work experience, but I’m still “youngish”. Not anymore. Here was me at 25. Fresh faced. No signs of aging.
Maybe it’s the gray wiry hairs curling out from my dark silky long ones. Maybe it’s the permanent dark circles under my eyes. Maybe it’s my poor bosoms sad and saggy after nursing three children for a year+ each time. Maybe it’s the fact that recently my husband and I created a “Will” with a real lawyer in the event of either of our deaths. Maybe it’s the fact that my energy level is significantly lower than it was 10 years ago when “going out” with friends began at 10pm. Now, I’m in bed watching Conan by that time! Whatever it is, I’ve crossed the threshold and am now staring down the barrel of “middle age”. Here’s me now, at 35. Not bad. Not “old”…just starting to look more puffy and tired. 😉
Now, don’t fret. I know I seemed a little dire and dramatic back there. I know that “youth” is more about how you feel inside than your biological age. There’s a benefit to growing older. I’m a lover of life..and after a lot of ups and downs, there’s a lot of security in the wisdom that age can bring. I was pretty insecure in some ways as a “young” person and finally feel like my identity is firm and I am more strong and confident than before. I think what’s throwing me for a loop is how FAST time has gone.
I still vividly remember my high school show choir competitions and how tight we were as a group (and some of the choreography that went along with our numbers). I still remember the day I went to college, how hard it was to leave my home state and say goodbye to my parents. I remember the soul-crushing despair of a broken heart and all the late nights writing in my journal. I remember the laughter, hilarity and heartwarming loyalty and sisterhood of living with my best girlfriends in college and early 20s. I remember the night I met my husband and the 10 day absence that followed and long distance phone calls that drew us closer together (Yes, my husband talked on the phone with me for hours on end when I was on a work trip. Those who know him, KNOW that’s a big deal for him to talk that much). And here I am now, deep into parenting, trying to navigate school issues for my daughter, behavior issues for my preschooler son and still changing diapers for the baby; going a couple days at a time in-between showers, still trying to keep my footing in the professional world and barely maintaining contact with that fun girl who lived it up in Chicago pre-husband-and-kids.
How did that life changing shift seem to happen so quickly?? This is my birthday lament. It’s not bad or wrong. It’s just reality. Each year that I get older, I have to exclaim, “How in the heck is this happening??!” I remember when my parents were 35 and now I’m 35!!
I know this. I had two grandparents,who I loved dearly but who talked about their impending death every time I visited them. Every discomfort and pain was exaggerated and discussed at length. Every day was a day closer to their funeral. I don’t ever want to be like that. I will dance to my favorite music while making dinner for as long as my knees will let me. When they give out, I will still sing. I will take care of my body, the only vessel we’re given, to do good. I will still travel as long and as far as I can to learn about the world and find out more about who I am in it. I will still seek God in the good and the bad. I will raise my children to be fully themselves, as fearless as they can be but also to roll with the punches that life brings. I won’t stop trying to evolve and be better. I will keep pushing back against hardships because if I “give up” in any endeavor, then I have real problems. Finally, I will continue to try to “let go” when it’s the healthy thing to do (still not a pro at that).
I will also continue to be grateful because, seriously…I’ve had a blessed life. This year might be the craziest year of my existence due to what’s happening in this country and the world and how anxious and unsure so many of “my people” are feeling…but we still have many riches and blessings and privileges that so many in the world do not have. I am grateful. I also know that I do not know everything. I have a lot to learn and I actively seek out people who are smarter/more grounded/more spiritual/more humorous, etc. to let me in on their secrets. I hope that 10 years from now their wisdom and grace will have made me even more savvy/forgiving/intelligent and quick to laugh.
You know, if I get to my “goal” age, I’m only a third of the way through my life. I have a ridiculous life goal to make it to 2076 (I’d be 94) so I can be alive for our country’s 300th birthday celebration, sitting on the Capitol’s lawn, watching the concert and fireworks in Washington D.C. I want to be one of those old people they feature on PBS’s 4th of July Celebration special. Me, white-haired, in my wheel chair, waving my little American flag surrounded by my family singing patriotic songs. Don’t ask my WHY I think that would be fantastic…but I hope I can make it to experience that moment, knowing I’ve pretty much seen it all and experienced it all witnessing the turning of a page into a new era.
For anyone reading this…thanks for investing in me. To those who know me well…thanks for being a part of my life. Love you. To my friends who share my birthday year, let’s all go on a cruise when we turn 40!! Anyone else want to be in D.C. with me in 2076?!!