I’ve never been a fan of round numbers. They feel too perfect, almost fake. And even though last year was a perfectly round number of a birthday, it came after a less-than-perfect year.
I’ve come to believe all things balance out if you give it enough time, nothing stays the same and I’ve come to a place where I don’t want it to. I look forward to change–not for the sake of stirring sh-t up–but to progress and become better, get to the next iteration.
My daughter was almost two when I became pregnant with my son. She was curious and fiery, sassy and sharp, creative and snuggly, and (although I may be biased) strikingly beautiful with her fair porcelain complexion that could sprinkle with freckles in even a drop of sunlight, red curls framing her face and hazel blue eyes.
All of these things were glorious. But my very favorite thing about my daughter is her kindness and her compassion (now I’m not saying all day, everyday–she is still human–and her brother may dispute this claim, but when it happens it is truly spectacular).
When my son arrived, it was earlier than expected, almost six weeks in fact. So my then-husband and I were in a bit of a scramble the morning I went into labor. We had not planned for his arrival this early… What to do with the baby (our daughter, in this case), so I was off to the hospital solo. And as I left the apartment, I could hear her crying “mama” as I entered the elevator.
One year, I think it was when I turned five, I remember waking up and running to the easel standing in my bedroom and drawing a flower with crayons. Armed with the certainty that because I went to sleep a four-year-old and woke up a much savvier five, I would craft a more perfect, more precise flower. That drawing, framed and dated, would hang in my mothers’ hallway for years.
So now, on the cusp of 40, I am not going to wait until the morning of my birthday to feel older and wiser. I am in a reflective mood and decided to start to ponder what I have learned over the last four decades, and I chose (appropriately) 40 things. I wasn’t totally sure I could come up with that many things worthy of note–perhaps not all are to everyone–but they have special meaning to me.
So, for those who care to partake, the 40 most meaningful things I’ve learned in the last 40 years. Maybe I’ll come up with a completely different set by 50.
I was in the taxi with my kids yesterday, on our way to the movies. We were having a conversation about, of all things, my birthday. They both know how old I’m about to turn, 40–or as my daughter likes to say, “the big 4-0” and my son likes to remind me “that’s four decades, mom”–and they feel “it’s a big one.” So in the cab, they were debating the virtues of different celebrations, ideas and trips we should consider. This has been a rough year, as you may have previously read–and it’s hard to get up the gusto to want to celebrate in a manner that’s out of the ordinary right now. My answer was “it’s just a number, like any other…lets just do what we’ve always done.”
And then I saw a post from a friend the night before.
In exactly 250 days I will turn 40 years old.
I didn’t expect the idea of 40 to feel different than, say 38 or 39 (and perhaps it won’t when it finally gets here) but right now the idea of a new decade seems substantial in a way the others didn’t. Here’s what I mean: I built my thirties around the idea of wanting more–more recreational time and friends (why couldn’t I aspire to “have it all”?), maybe more babies (upon further consideration that was nixed), more career and money, more and more…
My husband’s birthday is on Halloween. He also doesn’t usually dress up. His reason, and it’s a reasonable one, is that “as the birthday boy, he should be able to do what he wants…” (within reason) Ok, fair enough. And since becoming a father, he graciously conceded that his needs come second to theirs, which means not usually celebrating on his actually birthday. Ok, more than fair.
On my 30th birthday I woke up and cried. Not because I was turning 30, but because I was entering a decade that my father would have no part of. He died when I was 22 and so he had seen a small part of my twenties. Entering my thirties meant starting a chapter that would be devoid of any semblance of his imprint.
I have another birthday coming this week.
Spring is almost here and in my house, that means it’s almost time for a birthday party…for a little boy–my youngest, no less. Every year he gets excited about six weeks beforehand and starts dropping not-very-subtle hints about what he wants for his birthday, and where he wants his party. This year he is turning the big 1-0 and he’s all about computers and baseball–if you can’t catch it or code it, it’s impossible to get much of his attention for very long. He wants a robotics and game design party–yes, this exists–but maybe because it’s a landmark year (ten feels special and monumental to me) this got me thinking about all the different parties we’ve had over the years (don’t worry, I’ve omitted any duplications).