When I learned that I was going to be a mother for the first time, I remember being aware of the fact that I would be 40 when that child turned 18. I just didn’t think it would go so fast. I just didn’t think we’d go from 0 to 18 to 40 in only 25 seconds. It leaves me reeling.
Today is my 40th birthday, and in true (to myself) birthday form, I have cried a lot. And no, not really a good cry either. For some reason, all the sadnesses of life have overwhelmed me on this day every year, for as long as I can remember. I think even before I can remember, actually. I am pretty sure that I comtemplated all that I had already lost on my 3rd birthday. That is why it is hard to be me.
I like getting older, but I don’t like people acting like it’s a private shame to talk about this age that I am. I am not ashamed to be 40. I’d rather be 40 than 22 or 25 or 39. It’s what I am and I want to be it and I don’t want anyone insulting me by insinuating that I shouldn’t want to be what I am. But they do. The world insinuates and the world comes right out and says it and I am left wondering what’s wrong with everyone for not wanting to be what they are. I’ve always been more on the aggressive side of passive, but passive none-the-less.
Tonight at dinner, one daughter talked about how she just doesn’t worry about stuff. She just takes life as it comes and lets it happen. And her face looked just like the flower child she is at heart with her peaceful little smile and slightly unfocused eyes and the unspoken words in her brain that we could visibly see on her face were “Peace, Love and Grooviness, man.” And her dad told her that right then, she was his favorite. And another daughter threw her hands up in the air at that and said “WOW” and looked around in disbelief and repeated herself: “WOW.” She’s more on the aggressive side of passive too. And the other daughter ignored all of them and wondered how many times I’ve come in her room after she’s fallen asleep and smoothed her hair and kissed her face and said “I love you” while she slept. Someday she’ll know. Someday she’ll know this aching joyful sadness that it is to be a mom. She’ll know that each sleep and each smooth of the hair and each “I love you” will only take her farther down a road that she can never come back from.
(When you’re 40, you can end sentences with prepositions if you want to.)
This week I read through all my birthday posts from time immemorial, which was six years ago. It made me feel a little better to remember that I’m always sad on my birthday. On second thought, it didn’t really make me feel better at all. But I do like patterns. I figure if there’s a pattern, there’s something to be excited about. So there you have it. If you want to read about fleetingness and pain and floating and grief, and you want to watch the pattern repeat itself over and over and over, then here you go.
Happy birthday to me. And to you, whenever yours may be. May all your roads be ever flowing onward through beautiful woods, sandy dunes where you lose your footing, rocky canyons, green meadows and snow-capped mountains ~ with occasional rests beside still waters.
And may some of those forest-framed roads be journeyed by fast rides on four-wheelers.