When I was a kid, my early September birthday inevitably meant me going back to school, which was quite a buzz kill and a distraction from the celebration. Now that I am a mother of two young kids who I spend every minute with over the summers, I revel in the quiet my birthday now brings with them going back to school. The downside of the date is that every adventure-filled family summer has me in a perpetual state of mindfulness, so absorbed in the present that I am oblivious to the looming big day that hits me like a brick every year. Today is that day.
At my age, and perhaps at any age, birthdays can be a source of conflicting emotions - joyous and celebratory, yet also too reflective and quite frankly somewhat depressing. We never really know how we will feel once the day arrives, and as much as we try to stay optimistic and keep saying nonsense like ‘age is just a number’, a birthday is a yearly life check-in point that brings a plethora of feelings.
This morning when I woke up, my husband asked me how I felt. The first thing that came out of my mouth without even thinking was ‘I’m not 50 yet’. Hmmm…not a horrible response, but not a great one either. I really had nothing else to say.
My son gave me an incredibly sweet birthday card where he drew us holding hands. He drew me with a ’48’ age label and he drew himself with a ‘13’ age label. !!?? When he is really angry with me, he knows my vulnerabilities and reminds me of how old I am, so while he was being thoughtful with his card, I still don’t quite know what he meant by the picture. I am just grateful that he remembered my birthday, and as a bonus he asked to practice yoga with me along to one of my yoga videos. He does have his moments.
The rest of the morning I could only focus on the ‘48’ in his card, and had the usual aging birthday thoughts of ‘How did that number get so big?’ and ‘Where did my youth go?’. But then I went for a birthday swim, where I had endless mental time to count laps in my head and obsess about everything. That’s when it hit me – my 48 plus my son’s 13 plus my daughter’s 11. A lot of years of not one, but now three lives fully led. What an amazing glass-half-full realization! Life is fabulous!
And then when I went to put on some make-up I found a new black chin hair.
So today, as I launch my new website and kickstart my new venture, I celebrate my birthday with tremendous excitement and inspiration over new beginnings, along with countless other mixed emotions. Birthdays will probably always be like this, no matter what approach I take, but at least they keep coming.