When you’re a teenager, you can’t wait to get older, because birthdays mean more than candles and cake. Each year brings you closer to freedom, and the adult status every under-ager covets. But when you finally settle in as a full-fledged adult, you realize the perks also come with a host of pains: bill paying, and the expectations of a less-forgiving society, for example. There’s no sneaking into theaters. No one’s coming to fold your laundry or hassle you ’til you stumble out of bed. The fridge doesn’t stock itself anymore, either– imagine that! Then there’s the aging part…
Letting Go and Looking Forward
As a 37-year old woman, I have a bit of anxiety about aging. If you’re decades ahead of me, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. But consider my dilemma…My babies are growing beards and laughing at my “old fashioned ways.” I’m examining wrinkle creams and scanning my head for the first grey strand that’s sure to come soon. While that’s all vanity, these external indicators remind me that my life is not (as I assumed in my teen years), a lengthy journey. It is instead, like the dew that clings to blades of grass, so quick to vanish. Now that’s a harsh reality.
With my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis some years ago, I saw the brute force of life’s blade, and the way it so cruelly cut her from me. Life cuts sometimes. But then my sons came, and so many other gifts did, too. So I remember the sofa where my grandma and I sat in my childhood. But I have memories of my own children, too, and the places we sat and laughed. Life doesn’t take without giving.
A few years ago, I started enjoying my birthdays. I stopped moping about approaching 40 (I still can’t believe I’m so close) and started making my day a true celebration. I can’t promise I’ll never feel bad about reaching 50, 60, or beyond. I vow, however, to recognize the gift each birthday brings.
Last year, I wore a tiara, a birthday button, and behaved obnoxiously. This year, my birthday falls on a Wednesday so I’m taking the day to sleep late, eat cake, and maybe do a naked dance in my living room (don’t worry — you’re not invited). I thought about making a list, and calling it “37 Things I loved About Last Year.” Instead, I’ve decided to look ahead. Because looking back at birthday’s past makes me long for lost time. Someone wise said, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” So this year’s list will be 37 Reasons I’m Looking Forward to the Future…because I truly am, wrinkles and all.
I won’t bore you with that list (partly because I’m still fleshing it out), but I will leave you with my birthday mantra: I don’t merely get older, I become the recipient of new gifts every day.