Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who that old lady is looking at me.
Two days before my thirty sixth birthday I looked in the mirror to find an old lady staring back at me. Well maybe not old, but older. I found that I didn't recognize her. She looked different to me. It was then that I realized that I wasn't ready to turn thirty six.
I had no problem entering my thirties. I welcomed it. I felt like it was finally going to be a period of my life where I was content and happy. That I was going to be more comfortable in my skin, in my mind, and with my heart. I felt like turning thirty was also going to be a turning point. And for the most part it was. But then in the blink of an eye, I turned thirty five. And that my friends totally sucked ass.
I wrote a post for tomorrow, which is my actual birthday. I wrote it early because I'm trying to write on a schedule and balance the blog and work, amongst other things. And even as I wrote it I knew that it just wasn't right. That it just wasn't how I really felt about my thirty sixth birthday. I'm not ungrateful, of course, I've lived another year. And we weren't homeless or really broke. No one was super sick or worse. But as I look into the horizon at forty, I can't help but feel a little bit like a Debbie Downer.
Last year when I turned thirty five, I started to notice things. Like this extra five pounds that I can't get rid of no matter how hard I try. And honestly I'm not really trying. Motivation completely alluded me in my thirty fifth year. I started to notice crows feet and laugh lines, and while they have been popping in since thirty, this year they decided to hang out for awhile. Then there were the gray hairs that are taking over as my dominant hair color. And the bald spot that crushed my spirit last summer. Those things I could somewhat live with, because I can hide those, or fix those, or buy creams and dyes to take away some of the evidence of getting old. But not everything can be solved with a cream.
A few weeks ago Mac got a splinter in her finger. She came to me with some tears, and I told her mom could fix it right up with a pair of tweezers. And I gave it my best shot, until I had to quit in the middle and get my glasses. MY READING GLASSES. I could not see that tiny splinter for the life of me. It was the first time I've had to grab my glasses for anything. I rarely even use them to read! But here I was, reaching for them to see, for the very first time. It was the first time I realized that I am getting old.
I feel like I'm having a little identity crisis as of late. I'm turning thirty six. I started working in January. I've got some acne on my chin which would shame the acne of any seventeen year old around. I've been told in the last year that I'm peri-menopausal, and I've told a few people that my eggs are way past their use by date. I've passed my desired baby making age, which is really hard to swallow even if I've declared that I'm done making babies. Before thirty five I really could have, but now, I'm at my scary age. The extra five pounds keeps me awake at night, as do the nightly hot flashes, and then I can't even bring myself to get out of bed early for a morning work out. In the last year my confidence has swayed, some days I'm super confident and on others, I can't stand to look in the mirror. I tell you, this getting old thing is really for the birds.
So here I am, on the eve of thirty six, and I'm kind of in the middle of things. I'm excited because birthdays are my favorite. Then I'm a little panicked because I'm turning thirty six, and I feel that I'm going to blink and suddenly I'm going to be forty. Maybe thirty six will be the year I get my groove back. Even if that groove includes accepting the extra five pounds and buying extra boxes of hair dye. Maybe I'll spend it covering my bald spot with hair powder, and wearing my glasses for more than just reading and blogging. Maybe this will be the year where I accept the personal imperfections, the bumps in the road and the spots on my face. Maybe this will be the year that I learn to age more gracefully, instead of fighting it along the way. I guess getting older isn't just about getting wiser, it's about getting right with the number of birthdays you have too.
I will wake up tomorrow and again wonder when that old lady showed up in the mirror. This time I will try to be nice to her. I'll wish her a Happy Birthday and then snap her picture. Because no matter how she feels today, she will want to remember how incredible she looked on her thirty sixth birthday when she turns forty six.