I used to hate my birthday.
It meant another year of growing older, and let’s be honest, no one likes getting older. But now that I’m in my late 30s, growing older has become a completely different experience. Something about it is calming and liberating. I am content with where I am in life and instead of focusing on all the things that I haven’t accomplished, I’ve got my eyes set on how far I have come. I finally feel like I have earned my age, and am proud of who I am.
And you know what? I’m going to rock that shit.
I don’t know exactly what has changed besides my perspective and being much more comfortable in my own skin. I think motherhood has also played a large role in my in my newfound acceptance of myself. I have been forced to change undesirable qualities within myself so that I can be someone that my children look up to and are proud of. Self-loathing behavior is no longer acceptable or attractive (not that it ever was). It’s simply no longer all about me.
It is true that on the outside, I’m still aging with each passing year. I look at pictures from my 20s and want to smack myself for complaining about my weight, my skin, my hair color, etc. I looked amazing and it’s sad that I wasn’t mature enough to recognize and appreciate that. My body now is, well, different. Things are sagging, wrinkling, and hanging over in places that are just flat out unfair. But mentally, I feel on top of my game.
I no longer need the birthday blowout.
I used to drag my birthday out for a week straight and put all this unnecessary pressure on myself and others to make it epic. I think this was just a way for me to mask the fear and anxiety I felt about growing another year older. If I were numbing the pain with a big celebration, surely I wouldn’t have to face the reality of the situation.
Now, my birthdays are nothing close to epic. In fact, they are just another day in the trenches. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m just as content with an uninterrupted shower, some take-out, and a quiet night in with my family. (I mean, I wouldn’t turn down an impromptu trip to Vegas but that is beside the point.)
My husband and son made me a homemade card this year and surprised me with my favorite dinner and an ice cream cake. The fact that they went out of their way to do something special just for me was enough. I felt appreciated and celebrated, and at the end of the day, that is all a momma needs.
I live in the moment.
I now can find solitude in the little things in my life. Whether it’s chasing fireflies with my child or making an unexpected stop for snow cones and a trip to the park, I am no longer a slave to scheduling and to-do lists. Yes, my house is a mess and I have a list of a thousand things to do, but we will never have this exact moment again and I want to cherish that. The other stuff will still be there when we are done.
I can be me.
I am far from perfect and I don’t think I wanted anyone to see that until now. I’m opinionated, moody, and controlling at times, but I’m okay with that. I have finally embraced who I am — the good, the bad, and the ugly — instead of constantly trying to be someone I am not.
I will never be someone who loves crafting or organizing the bake sale at the school. I’m never going to be the girl who rocks white pants and doesn’t have an accident, or who has everything her kid needs for soccer practice. I’m always at least 10 steps behind all the other moms, but now I’m cool with that.
I make zero excuses for myself and I own all of my thoughts and actions. Coming into my late 30s has given me a newfound confidence and appreciation for who I am. I’m a shit show at times and I can own that.
I’m free of body image issues.
Comparing our bodies to other women’s is so 10 years ago. I am okay with my physique, no matter how flawed it is. I no longer compare myself to other women and I sure as hell don’t allow myself feel like I’m not good enough. I have carried and birthed a child (soon to be two) and I have the scars to prove it. I will never have the perfect breasts or six-pack abs (let’s be honest, I never did anyway), but that’s okay because I have a husband and child who adore me — and I can still rock a pair of skinny jeans and heels on a good day.
I can finally be still.
Well, sort of still — I am still a mom running a household. My whole life, I have always felt like there was something I had to accomplish and was always eager to move onto the next thing, be it a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, etc. Now, I feel different. I feel content. It’s not because I have all those things and can finally be happy. It’s because I have realized I don’t need those things to make me happy. There is really nothing else that I need in life. I can finally just breathe.
I have learned to swallow my pride.
I own my actions. I confront issues, and I apologize — sometimes not because I think I was entirely wrong, but because I hurt the other person. Life is too short to stand on your high moral ground. We all screw up on the daily and I think I have more tolerance for people’s differences now. I lay my feelings on the line and then move on down the road. I don’t fester emotions and play games. Being passive is just too much damn energy for a woman my age.
It’s strange, because I thought turning 37 would be beyond depressing and a hard pill to swallow, but it was surprisingly the opposite. I have zero complaints about where I am in life. I’m stronger, braver, and more confident than I was in my 20s. Life is just less complicated and more enjoyable. Can I get an amen for that?