It seems fitting that I would be writing this on the day of my oldest’s birthday. We are entering the final days of summer both physically and emotionally. The weather has switched from long days of heat and sunshine to a much needed cool, cleansing rain. The school year is fast approaching and with it the evident reminder that the kids are one year older.
This aging stuff has got me tripping. And feeling a bit like I am on a merry-go-round. The horses go up to happiness and joy with the new transitions and the downturn of loss both with death and the farewell to this “phase” we are living in.
I am thirty five. Thor is, too. Pepper is one day into being 7. And, I can still pretend to a certain extent that my baby V is just that, a very large, animated, verbal 3 year old “baby”.
What do these numbers mean? I mean really mean. As in, down to your core, your personal image, you as a whole.
It is literally the number of holidays you have celebrated, the birthday candles you have blown out and the times you have seen the seasons transition from one to another.
There are plenty of adages to answer the question:
“You are only as old as you feel.”
“Age is just a number.”
Here is the thing, thirty five sounds old to me. The number literally sounds old. But I don’t feel old. In any way.
Every part of my body and mind does not feel 35.
I can’t fathom that it’s been almost 20 years since I was in high school. I am still game to belt out some “Waterfalls” and jump in as TLC’s fourth member.
Have we really lived in five different houses, started and left countless jobs, been married 13 years and had two children in the lifespan of one awesome dog?
It is not possible that my water broke and gushed down our hardwood floor hallway on a cold, rainy night seven years and one day ago.
Is my “baby” really well out of her toddler years and approaching her fourth birthday?
It is not a matter of denial. I am fully and wholly aware of the time frame that has passed and the all events that have come to be and gone by. The memories are strong. The pictures in my mind a vivid reminder of what has happened.
Maybe it is a matter of mindset. I still think of my parents as being in their mid-thirties. It is not possible that I am now that parent in the mid-thirties. My grandparents are the sixty year olds, not my mom and dad. The reality is a matter of relativity. If everyone around me is aging and getting older year by year, then I must be, too.
The numbers tell me one thing, but the “me” – what I see, feel and am – is something else entirely.
I cannot honestly remember a time when I felt younger. I am healthier as a whole and it is a radiant light to bask in.
I am more secure in this body at 35 then I ever was in the first 34 years of my life.
I am more physically fit than I have ever been. (Did I forget to write about that 10k I just ran? Hell yeah!)
I have learned from all those fall-flat-on-your-face mistakes. And, I am honest with myself that I know there will be more.
I am no longer my own worst bully who feels like I will never attain the perfection I was erroneously striving for.
I am getting better at walking the fine line between embracing the challenges and nuances each individual brings to the table of life and giving a good ol’ middle finger to the baggage that weighs me down and doesn’t contribute to this life. My life.
I am a better parent than I ever thought I could be seven years ago.
I am a better lover. A better wife. A better friend.
A better fan of myself.
So, when I spin the merry go round to this view, it is obvious that this all came from thirty five years of life. Experience you learn through each cycle and the up and down of the crank.
Happy birthday, sweet and spicy Pepper! I am taking a cue from you, my dearest 7-year-old to squeal with delight at the prospect of being a year older. But, please, stop asking momma how old I’ll be when your 15. Or 20. Or every other number you’ve spouted off this morning.
Remember: I’m only as old as I feel.