Happy Birthday to me! I get to be 44. That's a lot of trips around the sun (for which I probably over-packed).
I've been coming across a lot of blog posts recently by people who are feeling freaked out about reaching certain ages, particularly numbers like 40, 45, and 50. I have trouble relating to this. I had a nice childhood, but wasn't satisfied being a child. I was more than glad to be out of my teens. I didn't particularly care about not being in my 20s anymore because I
never fit in with what people supposedly did in their 20s. I was sad to
not be considered young at some point, but looked forward to being taken more
seriously. I remember when I was in college and I realized when I did the math that at our family New Year's Eve party in 2000 I would be 31 and was a little concerned. Reaching 30 sounded very adult and responsible in a way I wasn't sure I could live up to. I briefly pictured myself in a pink sweater and pearls and feeling it was inappropriate to climb on chairs to put up decorations at that grown up stage. And then I realized that was silly. Why would I change in that way? I wouldn't. And didn't.
I did feel a little worried when I turned 30 that I wasn't where I thought I should be yet at that age, but I was on my way. My 30s turned out to be a big, complicated blur of pregnancies and C-sections and deployments and diapers and violin work and home ownership and what have you. I was very busy, but I have no picture of myself in my mind being in my 30s. I feel as if I simply survived my 30s.
But the 40s? I'm liking this. My body isn't tied up with my children the way it used to be with gestation and breast feeding and constant contact. With my kids' independence comes more of my own, and that bit of distance is making me feel like a whole person. A person with possibilities. There is so much good stuff to do! So many wonderful things ahead! A number like 44 doesn't diminish that for me.
The biggest secret to feeling good about being 44? Don't start exercising until you're 43.
I am not a person who likes exercise. I HATE it. But I love the results of it. And if I had been someone who always exercised I would probably be seeing a decline in my body about now and find it depressing. Swimming a mile nearly every day is boring, but it's doing good things for my legs and arms. I'm not losing weight, but the weight I've got is getting distributed better. Does anyone else remember that old commercial about "Can you pinch and inch?" (which was an evil campaign but apparently one that worked because I can still quote it). Because I can't pinch an inch anywhere on my legs at this point. That's new.
And I'm getting faster. About a year ago when I started doing swimming with greater discipline it took me between 45 and 50 minutes to swim a mile. Now I'm down to just over 35 minutes. Considering I can't do flip turns I think that's pretty good, and I'm hoping to get my mile down to half an hour by this time next year (mostly so I can get out of the pool sooner).
My favorite part of swimming is the walk back to my car when I'm done. I like that my mile is behind me, and I like the way I can feel the workout in my legs as I move. I like feeling strong and capable.
I like being 44! Ian's out of town for Army stuff (because I'm pretty sure the Army's sole purpose is to keep us apart on my birthday every year), but my parents are here. The girls made breakfast today and walked the dog so I could lie in bed and write this post. I went to Quinn's room and found my sleepy little guy under heaps of blankets and pillows and asked him if I could snuggle him in my room for bit, and without opening his eyes he just reached out his arms so I could scoop him up. We cuddled under my covers and I told him I thought for my birthday today I should be six like him because he makes six look fun. Quinn kept laughing and saying six IS fun, but I had to be 44. I told him I was going to make 44 look awesome so he'd want to be my age instead and he giggled and hugged me. He likes that both my age and the word "mom" are palindromes.
Maybe I was always meant to be in my 40s. I'm extremely liberal in my views about what people should be allowed to do, but my own choices for myself have always been conservative. When I was younger I always felt at odds with what I was being told in our culture that I was supposed to think was fun and what I was supposed to be interested in. I stuck to what I enjoyed and just wished I knew more like-minded people. Now nobody thinks it's weird that I like a nice night at home, or want some time to read. My age and my lifestyle are finally a comfortable fit.
So happy Pi Day, everyone! Enjoy your day no matter what your age. The numbers don't mean anything more than you decide they do. And I've decided 44 is the best.