As the clock struck midnight, I was sound asleep, my mind dancing in dream as my husband softly snored next to me. After a few short hours of sleep, my eyes darted open at the sound of my toddler. “Wake up Mommy,” my daughter squealed while trying to climb and pull me out of bed. It was at this moment that I realized, I may be exhausted, but life is good. Today may just be another day, a Thursday to be exact, but it’s an important milestone in my life. Today I am another year older, and I can confidently say—being in my late 30’s is the best time of my life.
I’ve never been a huge “Birthday” person. I love to celebrate others, but I’ve never been the month-long celebration type. Of course, I remember the major birthdays—driving with my new license on my 16th birthday; having a cocktail on my 21st; buying wrinkle cream on my 30th. To be honest, though, they are all distant memories. I remember being in my 20’s dreaming up my picture perfect life. Married, two kids and a house with a white picket fence, all before I hit what I considered the old age of 30. While life has been good to me over the years, it’s been far from picture perfect.
In the past 10 years, I’ve been laid off, suffered from infertility, watched two of my children pass away and faced endless stress from mounting medical bills. But, it’s those difficult moments in recent years that have made me who I am today. Facing those challenges has made me appreciate all that I have, while frustration and heartache have given me a new, more compassionate, view of this world.
When I look at myself, I see a sense of pride. My longer locks have inch-by-inch become shorter, slowly progressing towards the standard “mom bob”. The wrinkles have grown into deep smile lines around my eyes, while the furrowed brow most parents have, has created a permanent line on my forehead. And while I may be in my late 30’s, I still get zits reminiscent of my teenage years. These are just little things that so many women worry about when they are younger, and my appearance is something I often spent time fretting over decades ago. Yes, I’m aging on the outside, but I feel young and I feel beautiful. As I get older, I become more content in who I am and that confidence and happiness is far more important than the superficial things in life.
I pull myself out of bed with the help of my 3-year-old daughter, the bags under my eyes feeling as if they are physically weighing me down. Many years ago, I insisted on getting eight hours of sleep a night, but it’s been ages since I’ve gotten more than six. Whether it’s stress, being a parent, or just my internal clock as I age, a solid night of rest is nearly impossible. Not to mention, post-children, my bladder has me racing to bathroom at least once or twice a night. But, as any parent of young children will tell you, your body learns to function with few hours of sleep.
As I sit curled up with my computer and a blanket watching my boisterous toddler play, my heart is full. “Mommy! Let’s go buy you something for your Birthday,” she says excitedly. At that moment a grin emerges from my face as I chuckle. No need for gifts. I have a happy child, a loving husband, and family and friends who surround me with kindness…and those are the best gifts of all.