So THIS is 39…
I love birthdays. I mean really, really, love. I enjoy making a big deal out of loved ones special days, and prefer that my own lasts a week -- or even perhaps a month. So I wasn’t quite prepared for the way 39 would feel. It’s not 40 and it’s certainly not 25. It just, well…39.
I had the pleasure of emailing with my 12th grade Social Studies teacher this week. She was floored that I was 39. She is only 7 years my senior, but 21 years ago that was a world of difference. She had completed college and graduate school. I had gone to prom and gotten my license. Today, so many of my peers and friends are 10 years my senior or 10 years my junior. Where we are in our lives is the thread that binds, no longer our ages.
So this is 39, I pondered as I woke to the sound of my kids’ voices singing to me. Over the phone. Because they were with their dad and not jumping in my bed.
So this is 39, I thought as I applied eye cream to de-puff my eyes, sunblock to protect my skin (even though it’s only 56 degrees) and plucked hairs I can only see with the 3x mirror. And as I counted the gray hairs on my head and the ones not on my head (OMG). I made a list, to add to my list, to be incorporated into the master list. Of course, without all three I will forget.
So this is 39, I smiled as the number of people wishing me well on Facebook climbed over 100. Some of them had been wishing me a happy birthday for over three decades. I was reminded that I have kept a promise to myself – don’t burn bridges. I am still in touch with every guy I’ve dated and every boss and close colleague.
So this is 39, I breathed deeply. 38 was a year defined by change. My family has a new version of itself. My home and my life are altered. I am forever and remarkably different. The last year has been steeped in hard and painful moments, peppered with incredible friends and family lifting me up, supporting me and loving me when I did not feel so loveable.
So this is 39, with a measure of acceptance. I accept that I am a mommy of two girls who finally understands what there is about my body and mind to love. Sharing that understanding with them is what will make the difference. I accept that people will judge my choices, mistakes and words, and I can still believe in them. I accept that when life is at its toughest, I will be floored by who comes through and who just can’t or won’t. I accept that I am worthy, deserving and entitled to happiness. I accept that I need to work hard for all of that, and I will want to give up on a regular basis.
So this is 39, and I am healthy and I eat well. I should exercise more for my mind than for my body. I need to stop putting off the mammogram and admit that too much wine is a guaranteed night of restless sleep. I need to commit to sleep, as it is elusive when I stress.
So this is 39, and I own my own business and just bought my first house on my own. I pay bills and taxes and worry about interest rates, 529s and the Dow; but I am still carded when buying wine at Trader Joe’s.
So this is 39, and I am a mommy to kids with real worries and angst, who talk back and question the world, and yet still expect me to have all of the answers. They try my patience and break my heart with their sweetness, all in a matter of minutes. They are me and they are their dad, but such better versions. They are small adults and big babies all at once. They are the very heart of me.
So this is 39, and I am starting a new chapter. It is terrifying and overwhelming, but also exciting and energizing. I am realizing that I am just beginning to truly know the adult me, to appreciate, understand and love myself again. But I am also vulnerable and raw -- and often still naïve. I do not always guard my heart as I should, or consider my words well enough. I am still a work in progress.
So this is 39. Happy Birthday to me.