Yesterday was my twenty-ninth birthday. When Mo and I were talking with Ben at lunch he told us something about when he is a grown-up, which brought up the topic of when exactly one becomes a grown-up. We asked Ben when he thought he would be a grown-up, and he asked Mo how old he was. Mo said, “How old do you think I am?” Ben looked on the spot. He must have picked up that adults can be sensitive about age related comments, so he seemed unsure of what to say. He gave a long, “Ummm….” then said, “Sixty?” We started laughing, and he sort of joined in on the laugh, but also seemed a bit concerned that he had given the wrong answer. Mo swiftly asked, “So how old do you think Ima is?” Ben said, “Forty?” I asked him about how old he thinks his grandparents are and he said, “Eighty?” He seems to understand the idea that some people are older than others, but it was pretty funny. Not insulting in the way that kids’ honest comments can be sometimes (“Ima, why are your boobies so low?”) but sort of leveling the mental playing field that I was getting caught up in about age.
Twenty nine is that age women pretend to be forever, right? I didn’t think I would care that much but in the end I have had to do a lot of introspection and acknowledgement of some uncomfortable feelings. I think it is in part because of our culture’s obsession with youth and the general sense that our worth decreases as we get older and supposedly become inevitably less beautiful. If you know me at all or have read this blog before, you know that I am not usually preoccupied with surface concerns. I never wear makeup, to the point that the last time I did Ben said, “What’s that black stuff on your eyes!?” (Right up there with the time I wore pale pink nail polish and he said, “What’s on your toes!? Sunscreen?”)
However, I am not immune to wondering about my looks and my place in the world. I have a husband who loves me and always tells me I’m beautiful and two amazing children who give me countless gifts of insight and love every single day. I have accomplished many things I have hoped to and overcome many difficulties I wasn’t sure if I could. I don’t think my feelings about my birthday have to do with the state of my life or what I feel like I “have to show” for my age, because I genuinely believe that life is a journey and there are always opportunities to learn, grow, celebrate, enjoy, and cherish. My birthday does feel like an occasion to look around my life and ask myself if I am making the choices I truly believe in and want to make. If I am doing the things that I want to do and showing up every day to do my best. My birthday is a great opportunity to revisit the goals I have pushed to the back burner and focus on whatever seems pertinent right now.
For now, I’m in the continuing process of learning to find joy in the moment, taking time for myself, honoring my creative side with time and space, and most immediately, finding a babysitter and getting the heck out of this apartment with Mo! Thankfully we spend a lot of time together in the evenings, just talking, or watching a cooking show and trading back massages. Is that too personal and corny? Sorry. We rarely ever leave the house alone together though, and we need to have that feeling of “just us” so we can remember that we really are young, and in love, and so very lucky to have each other.
Back to the birthday blues, I realized that a big part of why I feel a bit mixed up this year is the way I have defined myself in my own mind. Before I was married I didn’t have many expectations of myself or the way people saw me. I was very self-conscious but on a moment to moment basis, not related to my place in the world. When I became a mother, I felt a bit adrift. I was twenty-three, living in New York City, and I didn’t know many other women my age who were married, let alone with kids. I felt out of my element (as all new moms do!) and I had to redefine the way I saw myself. I went with “young mom” and that served me pretty well for a few years. Now that I have two beautiful children (B”H) and have been a mom for five and a half years, I don’t feel like such a new, young mom, and I have redefined myself in so many ways. I wear many hats; writer, homeschooler, etc. and I am less attached to any one of them defining who I really am on the inside.
I spent my birthday quietly reflecting, feeling the ups and downs, and having some great conversations with Mo who helped me work out what what was on my mind. I woke up feeling much better and today I got together with some great friends at one of my favorite places to enjoy the celebration of my life moving, growing, and changing. In a certain way I feel like this year I am starting a new chapter, and I am excited to create and discover what’s ahead. Here’s to a great year, defying definition, and continuing to become who I already am!
Here are some photos from this week:
I haven’t committed to blogging every day for November, but maybe December! In the meantime, I will try to keep up the blog at least once a week, hopefully more. Thanks for reading, and have a great week everyone!