Today is my birthday.
Why, thank you. Thank you very much.
When you get to be my age, which today is officially middle aged, you hear a lot of rhetoric about the years in your life and the life in your years; how you aren’t getting older but better and a lot of other crap that is supposed to make you not feel like you have one foot in the grave or that you are thisclose to handing over your 401K to a plastic surgeon.
I’m now dangerously close to the age where people will get me those Hallmark cards with the ugly cartoon lady who makes all the stupid old age jokes.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and probably even again after that): Birthdays are better than the alternative.
Does that stop me from trying to forget that the second number of my age is now larger than the first number or the fact that if you multiply by two you get death?
Ha! Don’t be silly.
The other day I was listening to the radio and the DJ was complaining about turning 30.
She was wondering if anyone else felt overwhelmed when they had to say goodbye to their twenties. After I stopped cussing her out and trying desperately to remember even being 30 (I couldn’t) I realized something.
Everyone — no matter how old they are — feels old.
I think, as is the case with most things, that parents are to blame. Think about it, from the time our kids are toddlers we’re telling them what a big girl they are! and how on their next birthday they’ll be so much older!
It’s kind of sad when you think about it. I mean, I used to look at my kids when they were little — three, four, five-ish — and think to myself how big they were! How grown up! And then I’d blink and they’d be older — nine, ten, eleven-ish — and I’d be so mad that I wasted so much of their little girl years thinking they were so old.
It’s a vicious cycle.
We spend our entire lives feeling old: At 18 you feel like you’re old enough to do anything; when you’re in your mid-20’s you can’t believe how young high schoolers seem; your late 20’s make you lament the fact that you’re nearing 30; the 30’s are often a (in my case, forgotten) blur of parenting and careers where you feel very adult and responsible (i.e., old); the year you turn 40 is basically 365 days spent refusing to believe it and by the time you hit 45 you wonder what the hell has just happened and why the hell you spent all those years feeling so damn old.
It’s tiring, isn’t it?
Two years ago I wrote a birthday letter to myself that remains my favorite post, 340-some-odd posts later.
If you’ve been hanging around for awhile you might remember it. If not you can read it right here.
I’m bringing it up because 1) it’s my favorite post, 2) it’s my birthday and I can do anything I want today, and 3) because there’s a quote in it that I’m about to reiterate.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
Seriously, how old? 22? 32?
I think I’d say 35 (if I didn’t have to look in a mirror, of course).
35 on the outside, 12 on the inside.
It’s true — while I might appear to be grown up and like I have my sh*t together on the outside, I’m ridiculously immature on the inside (as is evident by the fact that I automatically write the word sh*t with an asterisk). Turn me loose in Disney World and I’ll squeal at the sight of Pooh Bear and be the mom who is judged for wearing giant Minnie ears around the park. I’ll be the first to “complain” about having to chaperone my kids to a teeny bopper concert like One Direction or Demi Lovato but once there will be fangirling like the rest of them (on the inside, though, or my kids would run away from home). 80’s impromptu dance parties around the house? Check. Water slides on vacation? You bet. Roller coasters? Abso-freakin-lutely (but not things that go around in circles…once I passed 40 they make me vomit).
So even though I may be officially middle aged today (should I be so lucky to live to 90) I won’t let the numbers in my age define me.
And I don’t plan on letting that happen anytime soon.