So…my birthday is coming up. I met this fabulous woman in graduate school who absolutely loved her birthday. She would begin reminding us about her birthday several months in advance and when it finally arrived she would be a ray of sunshine all day long. She turned her birthday into an excuse for ALL of us who knew her to have a good day. Even now, with many (many) years and lots of miles between us I remember her birthday before Facebook tells me and I smile for her because I know she has found a way to make her day great. I’m envious of the people who are around her that day.
Growing up I enjoyed my birthday especially since it is in June. June is such a beautiful month filled with flowers, warm weather, and the end of the school year. As a school-based speech-language pathologist, June continues to be a fun month as I wrap up the school year and count down to my glorious summer vacation with the kids. My birthday was always the icing on the cake that is June and a day filled with smiles, presents, hugs, and attention. While I still enjoy the idea of having a day to celebrate me, it has definitely been much more difficult to look forward to it. One more birthday, one more year older, one more year gone…
I try very hard to live my life without focusing on regrets but on some days, especially around my birthday, some creep in. My thirties have been…tough. My husband and I (and my girls) soldiered through some hard decisions, unfortunate luck, and medical issues. I feel like too many days during this last decade of my life were spent being mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I worry that the last ten years were, in some way, wasted. We haven’t traveled much. We bought a house but have only done a little to improve it. I earned a second Master’s Degree, but I have yet to apply for a new job and take the next step in my career. My family appears to be in good health these days but I definitely have spent too many days in the hospital. I’ve raised three children through a chunk of their childhood and, wow, have we been busy. I speed through so many hectic weeks just begging for Friday. And…just like that…my thirties are almost done.
This next birthday is a tricky number. Thirty-nine. Much like I felt when I was twenty-nine I’m pretty sure no one will ever believe me when I tell them my age. They will smile indulgently and think, “poor thing is forty and she can’t accept it”. Well, not only am I going to accept it, I’m going to embrace it. I’m determined to end my thirties on a positive note. Much of the difficulty of this past decade has receded already. As a family we are calmer, happier, and far less stressed. We are watching our children become more independent and my husband and I are finding more time for ourselves and each other. We’ve begun to work on our home and are making it a nicer space. We are trying to travel a bit more, even if it’s just for a weekend, and spend more time just simply having some fun with our kids. I’m venturing out of my comfort zone professionally and making new connections (hello CT Working Moms!). I’m starting to have some faith that in my forties I will begin to feel more at peace with this life that I have chosen and worked for.
I’ve decided, therefore, to emulate my friend from graduate school and announce it for all to hear: “My birthday is in two weeks! Be ready for a great day!!”. I plan to celebrate all the good that is in my life on that day and I will greet this new year with a smile. Welcome, thirty-nine! It is so nice to meet you.