I recently celebrated my 39th birthday, which feels a little unbelievable to me. Time flies, I tell you. Before I know it, I will be hobbling around with a cane and polyester pants. But let’s not go there just yet. I do have a few shreds of dignity left.
But only a few.
In honor of 39 incredible years, allow me to describe what 39 looks like for me. Perhaps you can relate.
39 is feeling like a spring chicken until you look back at pictures from a few years ago and realize that you do not look anywhere near as young as you used to. It is wondering what happened to the days when people would stop you in the store and ask if you were babysitting because you looked too young to have “all those kids.”
39 is deepening wrinkles between your eyes because you have always furrowed your brow when you think. Apparently, you think way too much. It might be wise to stop doing that.
39 is sporadic gray hairs that betray your young soul, causing you to wonder when you should give up and start coloring your hair. (Please tell me that there is another female on this planet who has never dyed her hair at age 39. She and I could be best friends.)
39 is a slowing metabolism that constantly reminds you that you can no longer eat whatever you want and stay the same weight as you were in high school. It is avoiding sugar, exercising, and still not losing weight.
39 is having multiple friends with cancer and hoping it leaves your family untouched.
39 is realizing that you only have one year left before your kids start leaving home, and wondering how you can best savor the last little bit of family togetherness.
39 is accepting that scars on your legs are just part of life, especially if you are a mosquito magnet and cannot seem to leave those darn bites alone. (Seriously…how do you avoid the scratching? I can’t do it.)
39 is when you stop fighting with your hair that naturally wants to flip out, opting for a style that works with your crazy cowlicks instead.
39 is dealing with a growing number of brain lapses that sometimes keep you from immediately recalling people’s names, and hoping you are not the only one with this memory curse.
39 is realizing that it is OK to be yourself, regardless of what anybody else thinks.
39 is alternating between feeling young and feeling old, and acting accordingly.
39 is remembering what it felt like to be your kids’ ages and hoping that they will someday have good memories of you.
39 is trying to wait up for your teenagers to get home when they are out with their friends at night, and falling asleep on the couch in the meantime.
39 is being proud when your kids know all the words to the Abba songs in your music library.
39 is feeling like your head and neck will never recover after riding a roller-coaster.
39 is realizing that it is time to take your skin seriously. It is wondering if you will ever be too old to get pimples.
39 is having your son say, “No, thank you,” when you offer your calculus assistance as if he knew that you flunked every calculus test you ever took in college. But at least you have a resident math tutor for the rest of your children. That is the price he gets to pay for being smarter than you.
39 is realizing that it is OK to say no to the things that do not fit with your current priorities and yes to help when you need it. (I am currently in need of a maid. Any takers?)
39 is giving up on constantly clean bedrooms, opting for closed doors instead.
39 is getting a personal trainer because you finally accept that your motivation for exercise is almost entirely dependent upon accountability.
39 is teaching your son to drive and hoping you both emerge unscathed.
39 is despising most Disney Channel sitcoms because they make parents look like idiots. And you are not an idiot.
39 is splurging on vacations rather than things because you want to make as many memories as possible.
39 is wishing you could freeze time and forever keep your kids the ages they are right now. (Except for the sassiness. And the whining. And the complaining. Can you edit those things out in post-production?)
39 is realizing that you do not know nearly as much as you thought you would at this stage in the game.
39 is approaching 19 years of marriage and being grateful that you married a man who always puts kindness and respect at the top of his list.
39 is simultaneously longing for the past and looking forward to the future.
39 is hopeful, grateful, content.
39 is a good place to be.
But don’t even talk to me about 40 or I might start hyperventilating. Let’s just take it one day at a time.