It’s Sunday again, ladies and gentlemen, and that means it’s time to confess! Each week the wonderful Hot Ash from More Than Cheese and Beer give us a topic and we have to write a post confessing something related to that topic. This week’s subject was: celebrate. Which, as it turns out, is fate.
My birthday is in four days. I’ve never been the type of woman who felt the need to lie about her age. To be honest, for as long as I can remember I wanted to be older.
When you’re a kid birthdays are full of joy and excitement…and presents. I would get excited in January because I knew my birthday was coming up. By the time March actually rolled around I could barely contain myself. I would plan all sorts of extravagant party ideas, usually involving some kind of outdoor activity, and my mother would have to remind me that we lived in Oregon and chances were it was going to rain. Which it did. Every year. But I didn’t care. I loved it. My birthdays were the day when I got to feel special, even popular. It’s amazing how many friends you have when your birthday comes around. Everybody likes a party, even if they don’t always like you. Bygones.
As I got older, birthdays became significant for other reasons. When I turned 15 I got my learner’s permit. I could drive. Well, sort of. My overwhelming memory of learning to drive was my mom panicking in the passengers seat and smacking my shoulder every time she thought I was stopping to close to the car in front of me. And looking back, if I had to let my 15 year old child drive the car we had back then, I’d probably lose my grip too.
It was a 1986 volvo station wagon, which for the most part ran perfectly well. The Swedish-built engine could take a licking and keep on ticking. The rest of the car, however, was less impressive. The interior was literally melting away. The driver’s side window no longer rolled down, and the blinkers were nonfunctional. This created quite the challenge when, on my very first day driving, I needed to make a left turn. How do you signal without a blinker? Well, let me tell you. First, you must remove one hand from the steering wheel, reach your left arm around the seat behind you, roll down the back window with the old fashioned crank, and stick your arm straight out the back window. I had to plan to turn about 3 miles before I actually wanted to turn. Ah, memories.
When I turned 18, I went to college. When I turned 21 I had my first (legal!) drink. When I turned 25 I went on a luxurious weekend trip to Glasgow and stayed in a beautiful hotel, ate fancy food, and stayed out late marveling at the incomprehensible beauty of the Scottish accent.
Then I had kids. Suddenly their birthdays became the focus of my excitement and obsessive party planning. On my 29th birthday, I almost forgot it was my birthday. Young children don’t care if it’s your “special day” or not. They’ll puke on you, pull your hair, bite your nipples, and then refuse to hug you. It’s just another day with toddlers. Until the cake appears. They do love cake.
When I turned 30, I was heavily pregnant with my youngest son. I’m sure my family treated me like a very fat queen, but I can’t really remember much about that day. I was otherwise preoccupied. I don’t remember acknowledging the end of my 20s, let alone dreading it. I’m sure I would have experienced the standard feelings of loss and nostalgia for the youthful version of myself except I hadn’t seen her in a while anyway. I’m pretty sure I sat on her somewhere around the sixth month of my pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant everyone treats you like you’re 95 years old anyway. I’d just had the extremely uncomfortable experience of an elderly gentleman insisting on helping me to the car with my groceries. He must have been 80 years old and maybe weighed 125 pounds soaking wet. It took him about 20 minutes to walk from the store to my car and then heave the large 24-pack of water bottles off the bottom of the cart into my car. I kept telling him I could do it myself, but he wouldn’t hear of it. All I could think was Please don’t have a heart attack in the trunk of my car.
I as already old. Age is just a number, anyway. 30? I was really more like 50 at that point, on a good day. So my birthday came and went without much impact on my life.
In four days I will turn 31 and I’m suddenly overwhelmed with all the emotions, regrets, and fears that I didn’t have the time or energy to process last year. I’m not ready to be old. I’m not ready for my boobs to sag, my face to wrinkle, or my hair to grey. I’m just not. I know that there’s no real, physiological difference between a woman of 29 and a woman of 31, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that I’ve crossed through some invisible threshold and left my youth behind.
As I mentally prepare myself to say goodbye to 30, I find myself, for the first time in my life, considering lying about my age. Perhaps this year I’ll go backwards. I’ll say goodbye to 30 and hello to 29 again. That way I can have another chance to really appreciate the last year of my 20s. A do-over. Telling myself or anyone else that I’m 29 instead of 31 isn’t going to make me look any younger. It isn’t going to shave 10 pounds off my figure, raise my boobs and butt by a couple very important inches, or smooth the permanent lines that have formed across my forehead from constantly scowling at rowdy children. No, it’s not really going to make me younger.
On the other hand, it can’t hurt. So on my birthday I plan to stuff my boobs into a push up bra, don a pair of Spanx, pile on about a pound of make-up, and head out on the town with my husband, like the good old days. We’ll laugh, we’ll eat fancy food, we’ll drink, and if I don’t get carded at the bar I’ll probably throw a toddler-style temper tantrum right in front of everyone. How’s that for young at heart?