“It’s time to get up now.” he says, giving me a gentle nudge. It’s the third, maybe fourth time he’s woken me this morning. It’s also the same thing every day, as if I’m five or maybe fifteen. Not, as of yesterday, thirty-five.
In between the first nudge and this one, I’ve kept my eyes closed but tip toed into the day, thinking about what it holds. The ups and downs, treats to look forward to and things I don’t really want to do wash over me in this moment every morning. Some days it’s dreadful. Others, though, like today, it’s not bad at all.
He nudges again.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” I ask in morning mumble. Without so much as a beat, he wishes me “Happy Birthday” with a kiss. And then I get out of bed.
There have been times when this small morning moment would have become a much bigger thing. There have been times when I wouldn’t remind him but, rather, would spend my entire shower feeling sorry for myself and angry at him for a blip that is never “I forgot your birthday” but is always a groggy, bleary-eyed “It’s really damn early.” There have been times when I didn’t see it that way at all. Oh there have been times.
But thirty-five is grace. Thirty-five is remembering that the blips don’t have to get me down or bring us down. Thirty-five is shamelessly talking about my birthday, asking for and orchestrating what I want, and being completely ok with that. Because why the hell not? Thirty-five is gutsy. And I like it.
This is my fifth year celebrating my birthday in this increasingly small space. And I like that too. I like that I have a history. Little data points from the moment between years tell a story. I can look back and compare who I was then with who I am now and who I’m becoming. Embarrassing as it was, I went back and read 31 through 34 today just for the journey of it. In these four years, I’ve grown quite a bit as a person and a writer, if I do say so myself. I also like that I’m sharing all of this with an increasingly small number of you, too. Growth isn’t always about getting bigger. Sometimes it really is about focus and intention and sometimes that means getting a little smaller. If you’re reading this, you’ve been part of the journey and I know who you are.
Thirty-five is knowing who my people are, without a doubt, and feeling the warmth that comes from spending my time and energy and love with those people.
Thirty-five is a new phase of motherhood. It’s spending my birthday in a quiet house and mostly alone because my babies are no longer babies but kids with school and ballet classes and blossoming little lives. It’s not believing this could be possible but it most definitely is falling in love with my children harder and harder each day as they grow more and more into the people they’re becoming. It’s finding my stride with their hands in mine rather than with their bodies on my hip. It’s finding my groove and knowing much better who I am as a mother. And loving it.
And it’s knowing, much better, who I am as a person, a wife, a friend. And accepting that. And realizing that when I accept who I am, the people in my life begin to know me better too. And that makes the risk of seeing and showing myself, flaws and all, so very worth it.
Thirty-five is making more coffee in the morning because I love the feel of the mug in my hands, the steam as it rises, relishing two first sips that come hours apart and making morning last for as long as I can. It’s coffee for the feeling more than for the caffeine.
Thirty-five is appreciating that our kitchen is literally in the heart of our house because the kitchen is home. It’s baking because I want to, sometimes with the kids but, more and more often, without them. And it’s cooking, with menu plans and new recipes and experiments all the time, because nourishing myself and my family is important to me now in ways it wasn’t before.
Thirty-five is taking care of my body and my soul, unrolling my yoga mat almost every day and intentionally breathing deeply because I know it helps. It’s doing things like eating well an exercising and getting enough sleep not because I necessarily love those acts themselves but because of how good I know I’ll feel afterwards. Thirty-five feels grown up.
Thirty-five is finally learning that adding a little bit of product turns my hair into a part of me I love, despite the growing number of grey strands. That a quick swipe of nail polish changes the way I look at myself in a good way. That wearing clothes that make me feel good is half the battle.
Thirty-five is more honest. Less afraid. Less focused on pleasing people and more focused on knowing people. It’s realizing that you can’t do both well at the same time and, since I have to choose, I’d much rather know you than please you.
Thirty-five is throwing myself a little birthday party because thirty-five is about the people in my life who make this life beautiful. It’s opening my home because I love the balance between the quiet and the loud and I’ve finally accepted that I need both to feel whole.
Thirty-five is content, with both where I’m standing today and the road I’m on. Realizing that saying “I wouldn’t change a thing about my life.” and “I want so much more.” in the same breath is not insane. It’s a sign of a good life.
Thank you for being my people and celebrating in this space with me again.
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