I just celebrated another trip around the sun. Having the privilege of celebrating a birthday is not lost on me. I’ve been reminded over and over again during the past two years that life is freaking short and we’re all lucky to grow older.
Of course, there are things I knew would happen. I expected the wrinkles and occasional gray hair. I’ve heard all the stories of a woman’s changing body and most of those tales are holding true. I even knew, at some point, I’d find music in restaurants to be way too loud. IT IS!
But as I age, there are a couple of things that have taken me by complete surprise. First, I thought it would get easier. No, I know life is never easy. I just thought I’d be better equipped to handle it by now. I have definitely learned to set a boundary and the lessons I learned in my youth have cleared a lot of emotional clutter in my relationships, for sure.
But, yeah…I really thought it would get easier. I thought the answers about navigating parenting and marriage-ing would be obvious. I pictured having real clarity on how to handle work. Everyone talks about the wisdom of aging, but from the silly to the serious, I seem to fall into the same emotional potholes over and over.
A not-so-serious example: Eating gluten seems to wreck my stomach but I had two pieces of gluten-filled birthday cake for dinner last night. Not just one, but TWO. I knew I’d be making trips to the bathroom all night, but I attacked that cake with joy all the same. I thought, after years of knowing this about my body, that it would be easier to change my behavior.
You could just take this “My brain knows better but I’m going to make a different decision” setting and paste it into most areas of my life. Sigh. I thought making these decisions would be easier by now.
Back To The Future
The second thing that has really taken me by surprise as I age is a big one. Life is not easy, the wrinkles are deeper, my body is changing in ways I don’t always recognize but … I don’t wish to be younger. That’s right. You couldn’t pay me to be 23 again. Hell, you couldn’t pay me to be 43 again.
There are some amazing moments from my younger days. I stayed out so late I saw the sunrise. I met Penn and had babies. I feel so lucky to have a full life highlight reel but, I don’t want to go back. Of course, I’d love to hug my aunts one more time. I’d love to hear my grandmother’s voice but I don’t need to be younger ever again.
I figured by the time I got to this particular part of my life, I’d be desperately wishing for my youngness. Nope. It’s baked into my DNA that I will always be looking to learn and improve. Until the last week of her life, my grandmother was on websites and learning portals teaching herself new knitting patterns. I deeply understand her desire to start new projects even though she knew her time was limited. Her body was failing, but she had no desire to be younger again. I get it, Mema.
While I’ll never kick the need to improve, I want to keep my eyes on “the now” and not look back. It’s surprising, even to me.
This is me at 46. I’ll take this time, this place, and these wrinkles.