16. I couldn’t wait to be 16! This was a significant birthday because I had finally arrived at the age in which I was allowed to date – I had longed for this day to come. Oh, to go back and tell that young girl that her joy, significance and value would not be found in some boy….
Next I had my sights on 18 – because of some rough teen years, this was a significant birthday because I could sign a lease for an apartment! I wish I could go back and tell that new “adult”, who wasn’t very mature, to be a better roommate – to be more considerate and less self focused. Don’t take/borrow your roommate’s food, makeup and clothes without asking…really. Oh yeah, and close those credit cards and open a savings account.
The next birthday that felt significant was my 30th. I remember March 2, 1995; I had a 3 year old and a baby, we were living in a very small home, and we didn’t have a lot of money. I remember my husband was at work the morning of my birthday and I was walking through the morning feeling sort of empty. There is so much hype about turning 30, so I expected it to feel like a big deal and yet it felt very ordinary. I remember thinking that I didn’t really know how to feel about this birthday that was supposed to be so significant.
So I asked myself What did you expect to be going on in your life at age 30? Was I lacking in an area or expectation? Was there something more I had wanted at this point in my life? I specifically remember standing in my kitchen and making a list of all the things I had at that point in my life. My list looked something like this:
- I’m married.
- I’m married to a great guy who lets me know he loves me…everyday.
- He has a good job, doing what he likes.
- We have a house; small but adorable, with incredible neighbors.
- I’m a stay at home mom – which is what I had hoped to be.
- We have enough money – most weeks.
- We are all healthy.
- We have health insurance.
- We have 2 reliable cars.
I still wasn’t sure how I was “supposed” to feel, but I do remember deciding how I would feel ~ grateful. There literally was not one more thing I could have asked for at that age. I realized I really did have everything I could have hoped or expected to have at age 30 and it turned out to be a happy birthday.
40 was the next significant birthday – and I will always remember that birthday. My husband had filled a private room in a restaurant with 40 of my favorite people for a surprise dinner. I was overwhelmed with gratitude once again for my lot in life. There was nothing more I could have wanted.
So…tomorrow it’s 47. I feel the numbers climbing the hill to 50, and I’m OK with that. (Check with me when I actually hit that special number!) I always seem to go back to that exercise from my 30th birthday – and ask myself Is there anything else you could have hoped for or wanted at this stage of your life? The answer remains No. I’ve been blessed. That isn’t to say there haven’t been struggles and heartache, but I go back to the basics…
- I’m still married to the guy who lets me know daily that he loves me madly.
- The 3 year old and 6 month old have transformed to a 19, 17, almost 15 and 14 year old.
- We live in a more than big enough home.
- We have more than enough vehicles for all our drivers.
- We are all still healthy.
- We are all still here – I know many who have lost family, and I don’t take this for granted anymore.
- We have medical insurance.
- We’ve been able to send one to college.
- I’m still a stay at home mom, although my title has evolved to Director of Family & Social Affairs.
- I have 4 teenagers who seek to spend time with me. (Deeply blessed and know it.)
- My hope is not in this life – nor in this body that is beginning to show the signs of fading.
- I’m content and peaceful. I have joy, significance and value.
So, happy birthday to me. My list is made, so I plan to just enjoy my day and my year.