Saturday, September 19, 2009


Why is it on birthdays we find it necessary to reflect on the past present and future? And then again on New Years? And ultimately at funerals?

Well, with my birthday eggs benedict at the ready (the day was yesterday, the 18th, but with jobs and school, today is the special breakfast, though I got my bling yesterday – that's a given) I'm not here to answer that question – especially the funeral one (though with the dearth of posting of late, there is cause to wonder) – just to do it.

I am now 41. It happens. It will happen to you! It might have already. It's not a bad thing. It beats the alternative. I believe the problem people have with aging is usually a feeling that they didn't appreciate 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, when they had it. To paraphrase the tree-hugger thing: the best time to appreciate your youth was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.* You are still young compared to when you'll be saying "I'm so old" in 10 years.

Last year on my birthday (a "milestone"), Max asked me, not if I was "happy", but: "if you could go back 20 years and look ahead to where you are now, would you like what you saw?"**

Without hesitating (well, after I quickly sorted through the ** below), I said YES! I would have been ecstatic to see us still married, both healthy and relatively fit (he IS, I might be skinny, but not necessarily what I'd call fit), three beautiful healthy children. We are in a nice house in a wonderful neighbourhood. I am gainfully employed in a job that still provides challenges and opportunities (I think that might even be in a vision statement somewhere). Great friends and extended family – who are all still talking (hey, these days, it has to be counted!).

Are there provisos and "well, if I were to really look into it I'd change (a), (b), and (c)"? No freaking doubt! I constantly feel as though I am one crisis away from spiralling out of control on most fronts. The grand irony is that every aspect of my life is *exactly* where I want it to be, but I sometimes feel as though I have it held together by string and gum.

[The one exception is the marriage. I guess it is proof that when you meticulously and systematically replace string and gum with trust and communication, the result actually can be pretty robust. (The funny part? At EVERY stage of this relationship, we have thought this had been achieved. I fully expect to read this at 60 and mutter "pfft. Amateur.")]

So I/we are in a period of regaining control. Fortunately, there are very small changes to make. Unfortunately there are a lot of them.

What about YOU? Would your 15 or 20 year-old self be pleased with what s/he saw now?

* The tree-hugger thing: "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now"

** Here, I have to put in that the enginerd in me can tend to get hung up on the details: Do I just see a picture? Do I just get to observe interactions, but not be seen (a la Scrooge's ghost tour-guides)? Do I get to ask questions? Do I get to be INSIDE my person, feeling what I feel? I talk myself from the ledge by reminding myself that the answer is the same regardless of the observation made (just some of the details maybe?)

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  1. I think my 20yrold self would be pretty happy, my 15yrold self was too naive to know any better LOL

  2. This is lovely, deep, and profound... and right now, because I'm sick, makes my brain hurt. :)

    The question you postulate is quite interesting and "omg, did she read my mind AGAIN?" for me, because in November, I planned my 40th birthday post to be an interview of my 40yo self conducted by my 20yo self. Should be interesting.

    Much love, and again (for the billionth time this week) Happy Birthday! xoxo

    ps - Arrrr...

  3. hi-yappy bi-yerthday!!! what kind of bling did you score? a gold medallion of you wearing a gold medallion? a new diamond and silver grill for your teeth? some new sean john track suits?

    my 20 year old self would NOT be happy to see me like this. married? kids? mom-mobile? 20yr old me would say, "You have got to be f*cking KIDDING ME. Tell me you didn't sell out like that. We were gonna be different than everyone else. We were going to see the world, make a difference, learn to play bass guitar and join a band and be The Hotness. Remember? Our band was going to be called The Jim Jones Kool-Aid Jamboree. It's still catchy. And what the HELL did you do to my body? What's with all the stretch marks? This is why we agreed, NO KIDS. Ugh. I can't believe you did this to me."

    i used to be pretty black & white. i didn't have very many shades of grey.

    BUT, if i could hop in the delorean and skip ahead 20 years (did the delorean have the "into the future" feature? or just "back to the past"?), i would remind my 52 year old self that life right now is pretty sweet. mostly good with enough bad times thrown in to make me appreciate what i've got. i love my kids, i love my husband, and i'm trying to see as many shades of grey as i can.

    great post!

  4. Happy belated Birthday!

    I think if I looked at the whole picture 15 or 20 years ago, I'd be pleased at what I have today. I'd be surprised at where I am and just what I'm doing, but I'd be good.

  5. First off - HAPPY B-DAY! Long may you reign.

    That said, 15 year old me wouldn't know what to make of 35 year old me, I don't think. She'd be horrified to know about the divorce and probably a little pissed about a few odds and ends that occured along the way. However, I think she'd be mighty thrilled with Buddy. He's so totally our type.

  6. I don't think my 20 year old self would believe that I managed to get my act together, to stop living from pay to pay, to be able to have a family with 5 kids!