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.