Never before have I been one to dwell upon my age or fret about getting older, but my most recent turn of the calendar resulted in a new way of looking at my birthday. For about a week leading up to the big day, I tried to figure out what about turning 35 was so daunting.
A fear of changing looks? Slower metabolism was supposed to happen at 30 and I generally feel as fit as I ever have. Fine lines can be fought with good moisturizing and I believe them to be a bit of a badge of honor anyway. That could not be it.
No longer part of the 17-34 polling group? Eh – just a different box to check and new product samples. I may not be the “golden group” for marketers, but there are still plenty of companies who know I buy the groceries, right? Definitely not it.
The actual number? No – my birthday marked the completion of my 35th year of life, so age really is just a number.
“Advanced maternal age?” Eh – I have technically been in that group since the second quarter of my time as a 34-year-old since it is about the age at which you deliver the baby, not the age you are when you get pregnant. Plus, we are two and through. That can’t be it…except it sort of was. It would have been had I let it.
THIRTY-FIVE is the age women hear for most of our lives, especially if you get married in your late 20s or early 30s. You absolutely must jump on the baby wagon because you will most assuredly fall off of it at 35 (or months before if you believe that medical science stuff). Friends remind you, parents nag you, and doctors frighten you.
Turning 35 sort of made me feel like my time was up. I know plenty of women have babies after 35, but the judgment that comes with it is rampant. Plus, I am tired. Beat. Absolutely exhausted. Monkey and Tiger keep me on my toes every waking second, and some should-be-sleeping seconds. Not much chance I could tolerate a third child in our family photo.
As I sat in a husband-drawn bubble bath, complete with candles, on the afternoon of my 35th birthday, some Fleetwood Mac came on the Pandora station I had chosen. At that moment, the lyrics nearly brought me to tears. I stared up at the boys’ bathtub toys, hearing their laughter burst through the song, picturing them downstairs wrestling with each other or building their latest Lego masterpiece.
“But time gets bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too…”
That is it. It was not that 35 meant I am “old,” not even that I am older, though the latter is true. It is that each time I get older, my children are, too. We celebrate birthdays, sometimes even half-birthdays, but every day they are even more full of life and independence. They are even more their own person with their own ideas and humors. As time gets bolder, my babies will no longer reach for my hand as we walk down the hallway at home. As my children get older, they will no longer need or want me to cuddle them at bedtime. My comfort in all of this? As I’m getting older, they may need me less for kissing boo-boos and planning outings, but they will need me more for homework help and the latest social crisis.
I am getting older. My children are getting older. The passage of time is bittersweet, as we all know. When my personal calendar hit 35, all I really had to do was stop to think about the sweet to realize that the bitter is not so tough to swallow after all.
(I wonder what I will do when I hear the Beatles’ “When I’m 64” about 29 years from now.)