I turned 40 this past week! And Addie turned 16 : SIXTEEN!!! Time for introspection!! (Like I need an excuse to get nostalgic and ramble.)
Thirty years ago I turned 10 and lived next door to my grandparents with my mom, dad and younger sister. I was in fifth grade and I enjoyed dance lessons, running around outside (especially with my sister, neighbors and cousin Ryan), and watching MTV, Saturday morning cartoons, and I’m not embarrassed to admit ALF. I hated piano lessons. I was an okay student; I just didn’t care all that much about grades and I was socially awkward, familiar with being picked on, and pretty insecure. I wanted to be a famous dancer or actress; ideally both.
Twenty years ago I turned 20 and my husband was my boyfriend (though I believe the year we broke up fell around this time). I was in my junior year of college, determined to become an award-winning photojournalist; shooting and writing stories that inspired change. I was not Catholic, but attended Mass with my boyfriend and participated in retreats and activities at the campus Catholic center. I knew conversion would be in my future, but I pushed it off just a bit because I didn’t want those Catholic beliefs imposed on me at that moment. The future was a huge blank canvas but I focused my efforts on a few key items, my boyfriend (a bit too much, thus the breakup), my photography and my writing, with a goal of eventually becoming famous and wealthy (ignoring that journalism is not known for being a well paid career path).
Ten years ago I turned 30 and Addie turned six. Fulton was a few months old. I was up to my eyeballs in little kids, early elementary education, and home repairs on a house with many, many, surprises tucked in the walls. I was ready to plunge into homesteading and I had a neglected, anonymous blog filled with Dorothy Day quotes and social justice posts. Ultimately, the next phase of my life didn’t play out at all as I expected.
I feel like the last ten years of my life are what have truly defined me as a person. I see my faults more clearly then ever, I understand my strengths, and I’ve moved from the lowest lows, to the highest highs. I can forgive others, and myself, more easily. Because of the trials over the last decade, my faith has been tested, almost broken, and rebuilt to withstand more suffering than I thought it possibly, or reasonable, to endure.
As I look at Addie, my first-born, whom bears the brunt of all my earliest parenting disasters, I can see how I’ve changed as a mother and how all the sacrifices and hard work are paying off. With only a few more years until she leaves the nest, my time as one of the primary influences in her life is coming to an end. Each day she comes more into her own and I have to hope I’ve done enough to prepare her for life outside these four loving, forgiving, joyful, accepting, yet often strict and demanding, walls.
While I’ve definitely acquired 40 years of life lessons, parts of me haven’t aged a bit, I’m referring to my sense of humor, my music preferences, and my love of the beach which still hovers around the giddy toddler age bracket. But, it would be foolish to ignore the things that have changed, namely my knees make more noise, my face sags and creases just a bit more, there are streaks of grey in my hair and riding a roller coaster has dropped way down on my list of “fun things to do this weekend”, replaced instead by such exciting activities as sleeping in, reading, sitting on the deck undisturbed, going out with friends who know we need to wrap it up well before midnight, or visiting my new favorite wine bar.
I certainly don’t wish I was younger. I’ll take experience over youth any day, and while I can’t go back and stop myself from making stupid mistakes, I can continue to try to raise children who are capable of making better decisions than I did, and who are resilient enough to bounce back when the inevitable bad decision happens anyway. I look at Addie, and I see a bright and hardworking young lady who will make me proud whatever path she takes, regardless of the bumps along the way. I’m looking forward to watching my kids grow up; I don’t mourn the younger years so much as I wish I could do parts of them better for the sake of my kids. I’m excited to see what each one accomplishes.
Where do I go from here? I reevaluated my 2018 New Year’s resolutions, what I’ve done up to this point and what I still hope to accomplish. I had a mini-mid life crisis a couple of months back, but short of radically switching gears to become the actress 10-year-old me aspired to be, I think I’m comfortable with who I am as a wife, mother, writer and child of God. I would really like the next ten years to not contain anything crazy or life altering (as it would take some pretty wild stuff to qualify as crazy any more) but I’ll be happy to settle for a quiet six months every so often. Overall, life has taught me one can only plan so much; most of what matters most isn’t what you think it will be.
So Happy Birthday to me! and Addie! Next up will be Teddy’s birthday on the eighth, when he turns 8! I’ll try not to get long winded about my baby turning 8 on the 8th when the time comes.
Do birthdays make you pause and take stock of your life? Do milestone birthday’s matter to you? Write down your deep thoughts and link them up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!