My mom’s doctor was scheduling her for a C-section. He looked at his calendar and noticed that her due date– November 26– was Thanksgiving Day. He explained that he didn’t want to miss out on the football games, so he scheduled my birth for November 25th. Thus began a lifetime of feeling like the medical profession was– just a little bit– out to get me.
Fifteen years ago I was….
Twelve. I was in sixth grade, and this was the beginning of the world’s most awkward adolescence. I hated everyone. I hated everything– but I loved my baggy brown button up shirt that I wore with everything. EVERYTHING.
Ten years ago, I was….
17. 🙂 I had play practice that day– it was junior year, but I have no idea what the play was (totally drawing a blank… Arsenic and Old Lace was senior year, House on Hollow Hill was sophomore year…. junior year? Anyone?). But I remember that Princess Lasertron herself made me a chocolate cake that said “WHAMMO! 17!” That year I was very into my baggy camoflauge jacket, and was very in love with a guy that wanted me to set him up with my friends. Booooooo. I had hair down to my waist, and all I wanted to do was graduate and move move move away.
Five years ago I was….
22. I was teaching preschool, thinking about going back to college. Mitch and I had been dating for a year– in fact, if I’m remembering correctly, we had our first major fight on my birthday that year, and broke up a few weeks later, only to do that good awkward on again off again thing for the next year or so, then we were on again, and then we broke up FOR GOOD for awhile. The definition of “FOR GOOD” varies for some people.
If you page back through those memories, you might not notice the subtle similarity. But I do.
And here we are, today.
Twenty seven. 2. 7. Those numbers put together equal 9. In three years I will be 30. I’ll say that again, because I just typed it and its really weird.
In three years, I’ll be 30.
Let me tell you something, blogosphere. I do not shave my legs or armpits. Because. Its. Stupid. Guys don’t have too. No one looks at them like they’re being strange or subversive or trying to get attention or sloppy or whatever if they don’t. So what the hell? I don’t either.
Also, I don’t wear make up. Why should I? Mitch gets to wake up, roll out of bed, shower, and put clothes on, and go to work. Why should I have to spend 20 minutes in front of the mirror trying to hide skin that is just fine, and enhance eyes that can stand all on their own?
Also, I never learned how and I always end up looking like a six year old who broke into her mom’s bathroom.
I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to stomp my way through some pretty icky feminist issues in a very practical way. So, oddly enough, it scares me that I’m getting older. But this year, I have figured it all out.
When I was in labor, I remember thinking– honestly– that maybe I could just…. quit. I visualized myself just getting up off the bed and walking away. I’ve done that before, you know. Typically my approach is not so passive, but I wasn’t really sure who to yell at about my cervix erupting. So I decided that I would just tell my body to knock it off, power breathe my way to the elevator, and come back when I was ready. But, as evidenced by the 9 month old sleeping down the hall, I could tell my body ‘No, thanks, I’m good’ all I wanted to. The baby cometh.
That’s how I’ve been feeling today about my birthday. I just keep thinking that I can hold up my hand and say, “No thanks, I’m good,” and stick to a nice, neutral age…. like 26. Twenty six has been good to me. I had a baby at 26. I finally decided what I wanted to do when I grew up. I made a lot of friends, and cut a lot of losses. And I learned something. A. Maz. Ing.
26. Old enough to know better, but still young enough not to really care.
When I was a teenager, I remember picturing myself at 30, wearing pantsuits and like… carrying a briefcase. I would picture my house, with seasonal paper towels and huge plastic butterflies hanging next to my address. My pillow would smell like cold cream.
I think that is what terrified me, more than anything. My conception of what being a ‘grown up’ would mean. The idea that all my creativity would be shackled down by mortgage payments and grading papers. That all my passion would be replaced by drudgery. That all of my ideals would have been proven wrong and all my priorities would be changed and all my dreams would look stupid and silly and pointless.
That all the stuff that I loved about myself the most would be conquered by the huger pressure from everyone around me to be something so alien and foreign that it terrified me.
Here is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. To be technical, I sort of have a degree in this idea, and also, in a lot of ways, I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to teaching other people this:
The hardest part of growing up is letting yourself love yourself.
Wait! Don’t stop reading! Only a few more lines I stole from Dr. Phil, I promise.
What I’ve learned, from 26…. well, I guess 27…. years of intense observation of social behavior is that people treat each other in basically the way that they feel like they should be treated. And dude. Based on that criteria, I’m not a super loveable person. I’m opinionated. I’m loud.
Sometimes A lot of the time, I say the wrong thing. I talk a lot. I think I’m right pretty much all the time. And its hard for me to accept things ‘just because.’ Hence the shaving and the make up. THINK ABOUT IT LADIES, WHY WHY WHY? JUST BECAUSE?!??!
But there’s a lot of good things, too. I’m very compassionate. I care very deeply about things. Even though it seems boring and like a not very useful skill, I love learning more than any other thing. Somehow, for some reason, people find me easy to talk to and sometimes I am funny. Sometimes I’m not. But usually, I help people when they come to me.
I’m creative, and passionate about my work. Sometimes, when you’re doing something that is so important, you have to start to believe that you are the biggest baddest mo fo that has ever attempted to do this job, because otherwise, you will let someone walk all over you, or you’ll give up, or you’ll make silly mistakes, or you’ll start to not care as much. I’m a really good mom. And wife, I guess. I don’t know. We’re still married, and he brings me treats sometimes, so I must be doing okay.
In 3 years, I’ll be thirty. And even though its been uncomfortable sometimes, I’ve learned to stop compromising who I am, because I am doing important things. Important things that, because of my life and my strengths, I am uniquely qualified to do. So I don’t have a house. I don’t want to talk about what my pillow smells like. I fall asleep fully clothed more often then anyone knows, because I stay up at night researching new programs and techniques and theories in child development. BECAUSE I AM AN UBER DORK.
Getting older isn’t such a big deal. You roll with it. Laugh at your mistakes. Grasp the ability to let that which truly does not matter slide.
My life’s motto is Don’t Be a Dick. And I think a close second is Life is Beautiful. And I wish that someone had told me that 15, 10, and 5 years ago. It took me all the way to 26 to learn this: Let your freak flag fly. If you build it, they will come.
So back off, 30. Get over yourself.