On Sunday I'll be thirty nine. THIRTY. NINE. Weird. I don't feel thirty nine. I don't remember aging. I still feel every bit of twenty nine, even thirty, if only in spirit. In my mind I'm still young. My spirit hasn't aged a day, but my body has. My mind and my heart have grown up too. I have aged everyday to discover that on Sunday I will wake up and start by thirty ninth year. It's wild.
This week I gave a lot of thought to turning thirty nine. That digit so close to forty, it was a little shocking. I thought, wouldn't it be great to be twenty nine again? Ten years younger? When my hair was thicker hair and I had zero crows feet. To be on the cusp of motherhood again, and really if I'm honest, adulthood. I was truly still a newlywed ten years ago. I remember looking better, and that independent spirit. The freedom of being a twosome. Sleeping all day on Sunday. Rarely grocery shopping. If I didn't do laundry on Sunday night the only person without clean panties was me. If I didn't cook dinner, I was the only one forced to forage in the pantry. Sure I was married, but the Hubbs rarely cared about such things. The Hubbs and I were young and free and didn't answer to anyone but ourselves.
Then the memories slowly started to trickle in. I was pregnant the year I was twenty nine. I remember I spent that birthday eating ice cream and gluten free cake until I was almost sick. I remember propping up swollen ankles and marveling at a growing belly, loving every minute of "being fat" with a purpose. For the first time in my life I regarded my big belly with pride, not the shame that had followed me since junior high. I was elated that soon I would be a mom. Some one's mom. Welcoming a little girl into the world. Knowing that it was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to me.
As many of you know it was. And it wasn't.
Twenty nine and thirty were just about the hardest years of my life.
I've been told that twenty nine is the perfect age to start a family, and sure, for me it was. By twenty nine I was out of college and in a career, not my chosen one, but I was making money. I had lived enough to know that hangovers were total bullshit so tried to avoid those at all cost. Thanks to a financial savvy husband I was spending smarter, saving better. It made total and complete sense that he and I waited to get married and waited a little longer to start a family.
But there was something sinister about twenty nine.
By twenty nine, I knew what failure looked like, and I knew what failure felt like. By twenty nine I had floated on a string of successes since graduating from high school. In my mind I was well on my way to being the best mother and wife the world had ever seen, because why wouldn't I be. Hadn't I always achieved great success just by trying? In my mind motherhood was going to be just like everything else I had done in my life. I would work hard, and poof. I would be perfect at it.
At twenty nine I was also dumb, naive and not even a little bit ready for my new life.
To be young again.
Nope. Never mind. I don't want to be that young again.
I don't want to be the scared first time mother who just knew mind body and soul that she was messing up her kid every single second of the day. I don't want to be that zombie of a mom who spent close to a year going through the motions. I don't want to be that sleep deprived ever again. I don't ever want to be that angry ever again because I couldn't breastfeed, sleep-train an infant, or finish the laundry before my husband came home from work. I don't want to hate my body that much, because I couldn't lose the baby weight, because I was eating my feelings. I don't want to suffer from such a level of self hate, or such an insane level of self doubt ever again.
I don't want to be that twenty nine year old new mother, stumbling and hating every minute of it.
That shit sucked. That year sucked. Twenty nine sucked.
The best thing about twenty nine though, the ten years that followed didn't suck. In fact they were fantastic.
Somewhere around thirty one I found my footing. I became a better mother because I realized that it wasn't any one's business if I bottle fed or co slept. I became a somewhat better wife, but only because I realized that no one really notices base boards or dirty laundry. I found some joy in the monotony of motherhood, solace in the semi-scheduled life of my toddler. Then as soon as I got my "sea legs" I got pregnant again and right around thirty two welcomed my second daughter. This time I was ready. That breast is best bullshit went out the window. I put a twin bed in her room next to her crib, made sure the TV in there had cable, knowing I'd spent a lot of time in that nursery. I knew the routine of a new born, more of less, and wasn't scared this time. This time around motherhood brought me joy. Regardless of the chaos and the bullshit. I found that happy place where it all intersects.
By thirty five I had found the power in the written word, regardless if those words were written by me. I had always loved to write, but starting a blog changed everything. It changed the way I felt about myself. It brought me such a feeling of success when I hit publish even if my mom and best friends were the only ones reading. Blogging, fueled by motherhood, made me brave, made me strong, made me realize that I had worth. Writing helped me find my new self. The one who had laugh lines and grey hair. The new me that had an extra ten pounds that wasn't ever going away. The new me that was born the day my first child was born. The me I was always supposed to be, but was never brave enough to recognize.
Recently, as in the past year, I've given up on a lot of things. Like my weight. I go to the gym, and have a love for running that makes me absolutely loathe myself (in a good way because what kind a masochistic bitch loves to run? oh yea me). I also like to eat, and Paleo diets are full of fat, so as I count down to forty, I realize that this is my size. I'm not shy about saying I run to eat. No boot camp, ab challenge, or cleanse will do it any justice, and at this point, I'm fine with that. I also wear jeans that are higher waisted because I can't stand for my ass crack to show. Call me crazy but that just isn't cute on an old lady like me. I no longer worry about the "rolls" that hang over the waist of pants and skirts. The ones on my back and under my arms. My body is just softer and rounder these days. Ten years ago I would have bought new clothes to cover them up. Today, nah. I'm some body's mother. And lets be honest, no one is looking at the old lady in cropped jeans and a flannel anyway. I don't turn heads, and I'm totally okay with that.
My forehead wrinkles in my selfies. There are lines around my eyes. My make up doesn't do the same tricks that it used to. My hair is mostly grey these days, thankfully I spend most of my money on box dyes. Still, I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't want to wake up twenty nine again. I don't think I could do that shit twice.
On Sunday I'll be thirty nine. I'm grateful. I'm happy. I'm content. I turned out okay. I've learned a lot in ten years. I'm still an okay wife. I'm a pretty damn good mom. Ten years ago I ached for this life. I yearned to be this person. Self assured, confident, adjusted, happy. I wanted so much to be the mom I am today, I just didn't know it. I didn't know that being completely imperfect in every way would complete me in a way that would make me weep.
The question is, who will I be at forty nine?
I'm excited to find out.