Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's my birthday

Mid thirties.

That's how I describe myself in the little blog description, and now it is completely true. On Wednesday I will be 35. Exactly mid-thirties.

I don't have an issue with age per se; especially since I still feel the majority of the time like my eighteen year old self and the rest of the time like my twelve year old self.

But as friends and I were talking about going to Italy for our fortieth birthdays and as that is fast approaching I wondered if all would be committed. I thought, no biggie, if people opt out we could do it for the next big number. And that would be 5-0. And I remember a woman whose husband surprised her with a trip to Italy for her fiftieth and thinking all sorts of thoughts, most of which centred around how many light years away that seemed for me.

I started thinking about this when I was staying with my parents a while back, travelling familiar roads. How have I changed? Am I different? Same?

I anticipated growing older as changing into someone else. I didn't realize I had to keep all the dumb stuff I did. Didn't realize that my brain would still be the same, that I would still remember taping Men Without Shame off the radio when I was in grade seven and how it felt to take the bus to the mall on the weekend.

It's all still in there, a veritable mish-mash of important and mundane, and no real semblance of order. When I picture people's brains I sometimes imagine their system of order. Methodical people, like my husband, I picture with a head full of shelves, reaching all the way to the ceiling. Boxes and boxes, all alike, line the shelves, all labelled with black marker and neat capital letters. "BIRTH OF FIRST CHILD" and "WEDDING" and an entire wall dedicated to basketball.

For someone a little more disorganized, let's call it creative, shall we, the boxes are heaped everywhere in a room that's just a little too hot. Overstuffed bags with items spilling out are pushed into corners and every container is different. Some areas are labelled and somewhat compelling in their neatness, but only because the owner has been alive for so long that really, if she can't organize the three thoughts she had before she was five she doesn't deserve to have any more. But jumbled together are weddings and picnics and thirty four Christmases along with many Easters and ham with cloves stuck in.

On a table, quite disrespectfully, truth be told, are all sorts of Bad Conversations and Hurtful Things, that if it were possible to just get rid of them it would probably be best for all. A sweeping arm, braced strong, wiping across the table and with one swoop, pushing this unorganized drivel into the bin.

Although a good strong Rubbermaid container, opaque, would do the trick since I don't think that, barring a head injury, selective memory processing works. Let me rephrase. For women over the age of seven, selective memory doesn't work.

It just hasn't turned out quite how I anticipated. Looking back, I can see now that the assumption was that when you had children it was like a big Secret (no, not that Secret) was unfolded. Wisdom, maturity, knowing the Right Thing To Do - it would all be there for me. Easily accessible and I could look back at my pre-child self with a gentle pity, 'ah, how hopeless she seemed. Look, there, at her putting on those pants with little stirrups on the bottom.'

Maybe that is the realization. I'm still going to be me. I'm the me that peed my pants in kindergarten and the me that won a prize in ballet and the me that has two beautiful children. I'm the me that has a hard time being wrong and the me whose heart bleeds at least once a day when she hears a sad story. Energetic and frantic. Bad housekeeper and good mother. All of the good and the bad wrapped up and none of it going anyplace soon.

Now if I could just wrap this thought all up in a gorgeous little package with a bow. And a card that says "To: Me."


Jill Wheeler said...

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :)

Second, I just had a conversation with my friend about this yesterday. He contended that we become different people as we get older, and I disagreed. I think we keep all the same essential strengths and weaknesses. We just learn how to cope better. Or, you know. We don't. :D

In any case, have a wonderful day and eat a big piece of yummy cake!

Jen said...

Happy Birthday!

I can't wait to be in my thirties, I don't know why.

I liked this post a lot. Every little thing that happens along the way becomes a piece of the grown up us.

Lady Glamis said...

Happy Birthday! *looks at calendar*

Um, yesterday. :)

What a lovely post This has me anticipating the big 30 that's coming up soon for me. What a relief to know that I'm not the only one feels like you do - as if my life is just this room full of stuff I'd be embarrassed to let anyone see all at once. Nope, I'll just reveal tiny pieces as I go along.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse! What a beautiful, creative, and fun life you've led. You wouldn't be you without all of that jumble!

flashmom said...

happybirthdaytoyou, happybirthdaytoyou.

you write such lovely things and i've enjoyed it so much over the last months.

have a wonderful day and a wonderful season.

thankyou for everything

Anonymous said...

We were just talking about this the other day, how we are the same people as before we had kids. Sounds obvious but we (or at least I) was surprized. Happy birthday and merry christmas. I really enjoy your posts, keep it up. (I'm one of the anonymous lurkers who never comments but it is the season....)

Justus M. Bowman said...

I'm not sure what to say, but I did enjoy reading your post.

Happy Birthday.

lotusloq said...

This is so why I love reading your posts and getting to know you. You have a way of putting things that blows me away and makes me feel enlightened at the same time.

I love, love, love the imagery of your mental room juxtaposed with your husband's. There is the same contrast between mine and my husband's. His has all those tidy little boxes that make since and mine's, well, excessively strewn and splashed with color.

Happy Birthday! I hope you don't feel jipped. Do you have a mini celebration in July to make up for it?


Merry Christmas! Here's hoping that it hasn't been too unpleasant with all the construction and worker shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

my own 30s are a long ways off and it's super distant for me. but strangely exciting at the same time. happy birthday! i liked your imagery, too. my head is full of file folders and filing cabinets i think.

spinregina said...

Jill: yes, cake is good. Coping, also good.

Jen: I looked forward to my 30s and they are good; I now look forward to my 40s. Yikes.

Lady Glamis: I love reading your blog, and glimpses are good. I'm more of a dump it all out kind of person. Thank god we're not all like that.

flashmom: (whoever you are, I like your handle): thanks for reading!

Any and all lurkers: thank-you, too, for stopping by.

Lotus: I'm always happy to see you've been here. I love getting to know you! Nope, no celebration in July, I tried that with my mum but no go. The only problem I have with my birthday is that it makes me not care as much about other people's birthday. I've always had to downplay mine. You say happy birthday? I say merry christmas, that sort of thing. So then when people get all hyped up about their own, I'm like, hmmm, not so much. This has to change, and has, now that I have the children. I've enjoyed getting into the spirit of birhtdays!

Justus: that's all you need to say! Thanks.

Anon: Files and folder cabinets are a good thing. Not that I would know.

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