Last week was my birthday… 38 trips around the sun. Would you believe me if I told you I actually had to think about how old I was? There are days where I think I’m 36 and days when I feel 45. I’m not exactly sure why that is. It’s probably a combination of mom-brain, pandemic life and sheer denial. It got my wondering when I stopped counting the days until my birthday. When I got into my 20s, aging became a bit of a scary thing. I was never one to take the day off for by birthday, or plan a large party. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I have never really been a fan of celebrating my birthday. Don’t get me wrong – I love celebrating OTHERS’ milestones, just not my own.
I remember when we were kids, we would count our age by 1/2 and 3/4. Turning double-digits or becoming a teenager was a big deal. N is turning 6 in August and proudly walks around telling people he is 5 and a half. Children can’t wait to become full-fledged adults. They can’t wait to be independent, make their own decisions, and grow up to be paleontologist-power ranger-dancers or vet-baker-babysitters. N can’t wait to grow up because it means he can own a snake as a pet and ride a motorcycle. J, ever the more thoughtful child, can’t wait to grow up because it means she can become more mature and have a family of her own. As children, we race to hit those milestones but as adults we dread them. Why is that? Somewhere along the line, the idea of ageing hits us like a ton of bricks, and we no longer embrace it. Instead, we inject it with botox and fillers and hope it fades into the background.
I think part of it has to do with the idea that we want to slow down time. As parents in particular, there is a stark juxtaposition between wanting time to stop, not believing how fast things are going, and wanting to skip to the next stage. For me, time never felt like it went as fast as when I became a parent. There is something about living your life through your children that makes things go by real fast. To say that you want to freeze time is probably one of the most cliche parental statements. We want to keep our children in these little time capsules and keep them young and innocent.
At the same time, though, we want to skip forward over the messy stuff. There is a part of us that thinks “things will be better when……” (insert the milestone of your choosing here). We are so certain that we just need to get over a particular hurdle and it will be peachy on the other side. SPOILER ALERT! It never gets better or worse, just different. There is always going to be another hurdle, mess, or milestone. My parents like to tell me that I have it easy right now, I just have to wait until they are teenagers – just another hurdle. I’m certain there is a lot of truth to that, as well.
The other part, I strongly believe, is that being an adult is HARD. Some days, it feels like it’s overrated. The fountain of youth and everything that goes with it exists so we can relive the days when we had no fears, anxieties, or a true understanding of what this world really is. There are still so many days when I can’t believe I’m an adult. I have these fleeting thoughts… moments when I’m driving home or doing something around the house…. where I cannot believe I am living on my own.
I talk to Hubby about this all the time. I tell him I can’t believe we *were* children, and now we *have* children, a house, a dog, a family, and all those other adult responsibilities. There are days when being an adult seems like an impossible task. When all I want to do is turn back the clock and go back to university when I THOUGHT things were exhausting. Boy, was I ever wrong! As a society make light of it in memes and comics; because sometimes humour is the only way to make our way through.
So what do all of these ramblings mean? What is the point, really? As Jimmy Buffett says, birthdays are for “celebrating what I should have done, with these souvenirs of my trip around the sun”. The should’ve, could’ve, would’ve will continue to live inside my head, never going away. But those souvenirs he speaks so highly of? That would be my family. Hubby, J, N, and even the fur baby…. they are my reason for getting up and adulting every day. When the days are easy, when they are hard, and when they feel next to impossible. It definitely isn’t perfect but I would take 100 more trips around the sun if I could to spend more time with them. And that in itself is something to be celebrated.
This is life. Love, Mom.