I have a confession. I lived an exciting, full life before children, loaded with adventures and colorful stories — and some I will even share with my girls when they are over 21.
I especially loved birthdays. Some were fabulously shared with best girlfriends and occasionally the men’s KU basketball team, but no one wants to hear about that.
Today as the sun peeked through my dusty blinds, two munchkins leapt my peaceful dream, screaming “Happy Birthday!” A little loud first thing in the morning, but endearing still. This is not a big day for me. Birthdays have been anticlimactic for me since I birthed children. And up to now, aging hasn’t affected my psyche.
Age 30: Just glad I was out of my 20s and ready to enjoy the decade.
Age 40: Thought it was going to rock my world, but according to Elton John and my heart monitor, I was still standing.
Age 41: I thought the age might hit me then, closer now to 50, but it was just another opportunity to eat cake; and unfortunately, I mean an entire applesauce cake with caramel icing. Not the best idea my children had, but children are such fragile characters and you don’t want to disappoint!
So today I donned the 42-year-old birthday-girl-tiara and my husband smirks, “Do you feel any older?” Well, why don’t you back over me with my grocery-store-parking-lot-dinged minivan!
Normally this question would have received a mere eye roll from me, but this morning he heard, “You would feel old, too, if you just spent the last 10 minutes assisting Munchkin #1 (our oldest preschooler) locate 42 candles in this house! Do you realize how many candles that is? Don’t even think of answering that!”
The reality of aging hit me as hard as if someone said, “Today is bring your own stool sample to work day!” Whatever am I going to do with this? It is clear that from now on I am going to get birthday cards bearing pictures of blazing cakes with a nearby fire extinguisher. Unfunny acquaintances will warn me to change the batteries in the smoke detector prior to lighting my candles. The once decadent chocolate birthday cake will resemble a newly aerated yard after removing my plethora of torched candles. I ask you…how did this happen?
When I married six years ago (or was it 12?), my husband and I decided to skip the honeymoon phase and start a family. My biological clock was ticking so loudly I could have been used as a torture method.
“Tell us how you planned to destroy the world.” (Place the thirty-something childless woman next to the terrorist.)
“No, keep her away! That ticking will drive me crazy. How about putting my fingers in a vice instead?”
I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked by feeling my age. It didn’t just sneak up on me and shout, “You’re on the downward slope, Honey!”
There were subtle signs of my impending doom. The first occurrence was when I was at Target shopping for diapers. After trying to read the fine print and noticing my arms needed to grow about two more inches to make it legible, I settled for purchasing my first reading glasses. There was an insane moment when I burst out laughing. I had the new glasses on because the first thing to come into focus was a cart full of diapers. No mommy should buy diapers and reading glasses in the same shopping trip! It’s not right.
Another pre-elderly slap in the face was when I took Munchkins #1 and #2 to the playground. It was a beautiful day full of bonding moments until out of the blue, a stranger said how cute my grandchildren were! Grandchildren? I am not old enough to have grandchildren.
But after several flippant comebacks (which thankfully never left my mouth), I assessed the math and saw that I easily could have kids with kids. Setting the record straight and reducing the complain-o-meter a notch, I am thrilled I started my family at a later age. I normally have the courage, patience and wisdom to raise children in a way that I know I couldn’t have done in my 20s.
My only regrets are my girls will never know their great-grandparents, they will never sleep in a walk-in closet at a party because their parents couldn’t afford a babysitter and most tragically, they will never see their mother do a back walk-over on a NYC subway car. Some stories I will keep in the vault!
Stacey Hatton is a pediatric RN and freelance writer. Her blog can be found at http://nursemommylaughs.com.
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