So, today I turned 36. There, it’s out there on the interwebs. I’m never going to be able to deny my age again. My beloved husband has taken great delight in teasing me about my approach of the big-4-0 milestone for a few years now, and now I’ve officially moved into the ‘over 35’ category.
And the truth is that I have been thinking about age more lately. I do look at women around me and try to pick how old they are. I contemplate the lines on my skin, how my body is changing, the tired face of the woman raising three small children, and know that I’ll probably reminisce about how young and spritely I was at 36, even if I don’t always feel it right now.
But, at 36, I’m also the most comfortable in my skin as I have ever been, in all my imperfection. I know what I’m good at, and what I’m not good at. I know when I need to say no, and when I need to say yes, even if it will test me beyond my comfort zone. I know what makes me feel alive, and what I need to walk away from. I’ve seen enough to know that life can be tough, but also beautiful. I’m happy just where I am, in this moment.
I feel lucky that I’ve never truly had to face the internal battle of career versus motherhood. From my history of mothering more dolls than you can poke a stick at, babysitting from as early as unsuspecting neighbours would trust me with their children, having names prepared for my 13 imaginary children and joyfully welcoming my baby sister to practice on at age six, becoming a parent was on the cards for me for a very long time. I may have had goals and dreams about my life and career, but being a mother was on the top of the list. As tiring and heartwrenching and just plain relentless as it is being a parent, I am literally living the dream being the ‘mummalove’ to these three boys.
But as my baby making days have come to a close and we raise these three young boys into men, I also know that there is a life beyond the intensity of prenting small children. I can see the light. I’m excited about what else lies beyond and that, at some point, I will be able to forge an identity that is somewhat separate to that of mother, which currently makes up so much of who I am. Right now, I am happy focusing on my babies, but I believe there is more good stuff yet to come.
I do think about the woman I want to become, how I want to be remembered. I think about how I want to look, how I want to live as a 50, 60, 70, 80+ year old, and the relationships I want to have with my husband, with my children, with my family and friends. I think about what I want to be when I grow up, when these babies are no longer at my feet.
Today, at 36, I am thankful – for the experiences that have led me to this place, for the husband and children who love me and who I love with my whole heart, for the family and friends who surround and uplift me, for all that I have become.
The past few years have challenged me to my core, but I know that I am stronger, wiser for the experience (but, my character is ‘built’ now God, enough challenges now, thanks). Sam’s diagnosis managed to shatter the illusion of immortality I had for myself and swiftly reminded me that I am not the one in control. But I can’t live in fear about what’s to come, all I can do is live with love, one day at a time, and make the most of every moment I am gifted with.
“Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well I’ve been afraid of changes
‘cause I’ve built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder.
Even children get older,
and I’m getting older too.”
– Landslide, Stevie Nicks
Thank you for the birthday love, and for all you bring to my life in its 36th year.