So This Is 36

When my mom was 36 (and happy birthday yesterday, mom!), I was 14 and considered her to be old. Not old-old like my grandmother, but just old. She wore high-waist jeans and worn out t-shirts all the time, she had no clue as to what was currently on-trend, she listened to “oldies” music, she was constantly weary from working long hours, and she was already showing grey hairs and a few lines around her eyes.

And it terrified me.

My greatest fear as a teen was growing old. Granted, I didn’t like the body I already had, but I felt like after 30 it would just be one depressing downhill slide as the body fell apart and the mind lost it’s ability to grow and change. I sometimes wondered if I’d even live much past 30, or if I’d find a way to go out in a blaze of glory and end everything on a high note before I had to endure watching it all break down around me.

I was a stupid teenager.

Today I’m 36, and obviously I don’t feel the same way I did at 14. Age has provided perspective, and I see how some of my earlier thoughts came from the anxieties and understanding of a teenager.

Today I am no longer wishing for a short, glorious life. Oh, I still have all of my anxieties of growing older as the grey hairs have taken over in the past year and I watch the fine lines deepen around my eyes, but I’d much rather face those changes than the alternative. Not only because I want to live to be an old lady, but also because I now have children of my own. These two girls need me, and I need them. I’ll probably need them long after they think they still need me.

Today I’m in the best shape of my life. I weigh now what I did at 14 (and haven’t weighed that since I was 14) and I’m learning to love the body I have. Sure, it is starting the process of falling apart that frightened me so much as a teen, but rather than fear it I’m fighting it. Oh no, body, you’re not allowed to slow down on me now – we’ve got a long way to go.

Today I find myself happier than I have been in a long, long time. I love my family, quirks and all. It’s taken years and several jobs, but I’m genuinely happy with the work I’m doing now. As much as losing my job back in March sucked, it was a catalyst to bring a whole lot of awesome into my life. Funny how those little details work themselves out, isn’t it? Things aren’t perfect in my life by any means – our financial situation is still shaky due to Aaron’s job, we want to move from our current house but can’t, and they have yet to invent calorie-free Nutella – but the stuff that really matters is solid.

Today I’m content to know that I’ll never please everyone, so I’ll just worry about myself and the opinions of those I care about. I don’t have to follow trends, but if I happen to like a trend I can flaunt the hell out of it. Or I can flaunt the hell out of something untrendy. It’s whatever I like.

Today I’m discovering I still don’t know that much about who I am, but it’s time to find out.

Today I’m still fighting inner demons, but I finally feel like I’m on the winning side. They have their minor victories some days, but overall I’ve got this.

Today I realize that my mom was truly comfortable in her own skin at 36, just like she was at 26 and still is now. She worked hard to provide for me, and pushed through that weariness to reach the goals she had set for me and herself. She didn’t over-analyze everything. She knew what she liked, and she knew what needed to be done. And now that she’s retired, she’s continuing to pursue her goals and be exactly the person she wants to be.

Today I know now that my mom was and is far more self-aware than many people I know, and I only wish I could have that same self-awareness and self-confidence that she did at 36.

Today, I’m thankful that I still have another 364 days of being 36 to make that wish come true.

…and that old lady reading glasses can now be snazzy.
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  1. Adorable picture!

    Love this post. Happy birthday to you AND your mom! xo

  2. LOVE this. You perfectly captured that which pretty much all of us had thought when we regarded our mothers at that age…I know I did. Of course I do NOT want to know what my kids thought of me at that age or ten years older or even now. LOL
    Seriously you look wonderful.
    Happy birthday friend!

  3. Happy Birthday! Aging is complicated.

  4. Oh how I love this post!

  5. First of all, Happy Birthday! I’m finding that this age range, from 35 to 40 years old is a difficult one for me. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that I’m not 25 anymore, but I’m also not 50 yet. I’m noticing I can’t get as much done in one day as I did even five years ago…but what I DO accomplish is worthwhile. My hair is not as shiny and thick as it once used to be…but I’m certainly not bald yet. :) It’s also an age where you start to notice people from your childhood REALLY aging or passing away…from family members to celebrity icons. I guess I’m rambling now. LOL Overall, I suppose it’s a great age for realizing what is truly important to bring happiness in your life. :)

  6. Lisa Noel says:

    Great post! I am about to turn 35 and working on finding comfort in the same way. I’m not yet in the best shape but totally working on it. Have some major life changes going on too so I’m not where I THOUGHT I’d be at 35 but apparently its where I’m MEANT to be

  7. Colleen - Mommy Always Wins says:

    I find I need to regularly remind myself that no one else has to live my life but me, and as much as other people want to offer me advice or just plain try and tell me what to do with my life, well…its not really up to them to decide, is it? Happy birthday!

  8. Megryansmom says:

    As I near 50, I need to keep reminding myself that!

  9. MN RN Mom says:

    Happy Birthday! I loved this post. As a 37 year old, I absolutely related. Hated myself as a teen, but thought I’d never be my “old” mother. Er yup, here I am, but rather improved from both my teens and my mom. Life has been tough but it has forged me to survive. I now accept who I am and am not afraid to show my strenghts and my weaknesses. We are what we are.

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