I recently had a birthday. Not one that is considered momentous, but we’re edging that way, if you know what I mean. And I hadn’t really given it much thought, but after seeing some pictures of myself from a wonderful occasion over the weekend, I cried. (At 11pm… when I SHOULD have been sleeping because my teething toddler only gives me so many minutes before she wakes and I need to take advantage. Different post for a different day. Yawn.)

I felt like I was looking at someone else. Someone… old. Someone frumpy and out of shape with ill-fitting clothes and mom shoes. Certainly not ME.

The next morning, I whined and complained to my husband and the poor guy — there was nothing he could have said to make me feel better. I whined my whole way to work about it and kind of resigned myself to the fact that, well, this is just who I am now. This is what I look like. I am a 37 year old mother of two toddlers. The end.

Then I mentally smacked myself and realized that NO. This is NOT who I am. Am I 37? Yes, and I can’t change that. And I’m crazy about those toddlers, so I really should keep them, too. But the rest? The rest is up to me. And if I want to be a good role model for those two little girls, if I want to set them up with strong senses of self, I need to show them. I am putting me back on the priority list.

I signed up for a 5k in TWO WEEKS. Nothing like jumping right into the fire. I returned my mom shoes and I’m buying cute ones. Flat shoes don’t have to be boring. Who knew? I’m getting REGULARLY SCHEDULED HAIR CUTS. And highlights, damn it. Last night I bought new skin care. No more cheap stuff.

I decided that, to quote a good friend, this is the Summer of Stephanie. And to my late 30s I say…

Bring it.

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