It’s never been my style to get upset about turning another year older around my birthday. I enjoy celebrating and one of the few things that doesn’t make social media the worst thing ever is hearing from people on your big day. Adding another candle to the cake makes me happy, because cake!
I have always nodded in agreement with people who like to say that they never feel as old as they are. In fact, there were more days than not that it didn’t even occur to me that I would be 36 as of December. So it was a bit of a mind trip when about a month later this one sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. Thirty six. Somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain I’m permanently 24 or so. So where did this 36 come from? I remember my own parents being 36. They were so … parenty. They had jobs and cars and a house and kids and a dog and date nights with their friends and hardships and fights. And, they were old. I’m not old. Right? I mean, I do have and do all of those things. And I do sort of creak when I move if I go too many days between yoga classes. And we do own his and hers ice packs for back pain at my house. Still though, how in the world am I 36?
My brain immediately went something like this:
“Thirty six is advanced maternal age. Is 36 middle age?! Thirty six is a different age range box on most questionnaires. Thirty six is “late-thirties”. Thirty six is closer to 40 than 30. Thirty six is halfway to 72 and holy grownup word, I am not ready to be halfway to 72!”
It took me a few hours to realize that while yes, 36 is probably old, as in older than 24. But defining myself by my age and the negative connotations age brings seems silly. Because while 36 does mean all of those things it also means a career I love; a family that makes me smile and laugh and makes my heart happy; some financial security that certainly wasn’t there at 24; a sense of self and confidence that is lacking when you’re still figuring out just who you are; friendships that are true and deep and meaningful; and most importantly the ability to spend Friday and Saturday nights on the couch in leggings with a book and a hot tea and zero FOMO (fear of missing out) because the idea of getting dolled up and heading out an hour later than my 36-year-old bedtime is not even in the realm of necessary to enhance my weekend.
I needed these reminders. I need sometimes to remember that aging gracefully doesn’t have to be about face serums and Botox and high levels of spandex undergarments but rather about being thankful for the knowledge each year adds, the security of a career I’ve worked hard for, the beauty of the family my husband and I have built.
Don’t get me wrong though, face serums and Botox and lots of spandex are definitely good tools to keep in the aging toolbox too!