Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number. This has nothing to do with R. Kelly, so please feel comfortable to continue reading beyond this point.
I am 37. This tidbit about my age is completely unremarkable except for the fact that I spent six months of the past year of my life thinking I was 38. My adorable 3.5-year-old teeters between thinking I am five or 60. When my 7-year-old corrected her that I was indeed, 57, I felt the need to clarify.
“No, Sis, I am I 38,” I kindly responded.
My husband looked over with a smile. “Mom’s being silly. She’s 37.” As a 38 year old man, he tacitly knows that all Women of a Certain Age take every inch of youth latitude afforded to them.
“Papa is nice to say that, but I’m really 38,” I said with a hint of resentment. I couldn’t help but think, I cannot believe he doesn’t know how old I am.
He then explained why I was indeed 37. Even though what he was saying was correct, I couldn’t quite surrender to the facts. So, I Googled my age to prove that I was indeed right, as I always am.
As a moderately well-functioning adult, I actually entered into the search bar of my computer, “How old is someone born November 28, 1981.” Welp, it turns out I was wrong. I needed the absolute certainty of a haphazard Google search rather than just trusting the person who I have lived with for the past decade. I’m thorough.
I just really couldn’t believe it. I’m actually younger than I had been telling people. My assumption was that fiblet ceased to be told once you hit 21.
Rather than making me happy that I had immediately gained back a year of my life, my actual age hit me in an unexpected way.
I vividly remember the day I turned 13. I went around asking everyone how old they were. I’d love to say I was really interested in this information from my friends and family, but in reality I just wanted to rub it in their faces that I was a teenager and they were not. When I got to my dad, he responded simply, “I’m not sure” with no further explanation.
“What?! How the heck do you not know how old you are?” I interrogated him.
“I guess I just forgot. Maybe I am 37. I”ll have to think about it.”
He finally figured it out, but I just could not fathom that you could be so flippant about such an important thing.
I knew I would never let myself get to that point. Thirteen-year-olds are really something, right??
Hi! I’m here, and I’m at that point.
Guess what, I don’t give two biscuits about how old I am either.
There was no Running Man happy dance to celebrate being one year further from The Big 4-0. There was no revelation that I had been blessed with an extra year of my life to live. Inversely, it made me wonder how I got here.
Maybe it’s because I have little kids, and I am tired.
Maybe it’s because we are living in our seventh house in ten years of marriage, and I can’t even remember our billing zip code to get gas sometimes.
Maybe it’s because my family has so much going on, I have stopped paying attention to details about myself.
Maybe, I am starting to lose it (this is probably the actual explanation.)
After some careful reflection, I decided none of that was it. I didn’t really care how old I was (or wasn’t for that matter) because because I feel fulfilled at where I am in my life. It’s a darn good feeling.
Middle age, no matter what the exact number, is totally awesome. In my case, it’s meant security, confidence and contentment.
I know who my people are and who they will be in the future. I prioritize relationships I find most important. I try my best to invest my time and efforts into the people who I truly love. I’ve always been aware of the fact that I genuinely like approximately seven people on earth. However, I have grown to know that I, in turn, am not everyone’s cup of tea. And guess what, God made me awesome, so it’s their loss (there’s that confidence I mentioned above).
I’m actually quite content saying I’m sorry if I’ve not been my best self with one of the people I love, especially my kids. It’s become very important to me that my girls know that even old people face challenges and make mistakes, and those aren’t what matter. What comes after those moments are what will define who they become.
Being in my late thirties gives me the self-assuredness that it’s permissible and necessary to take care of myself. I am worth prioritizing my early bedtime over letting my kids stay up to play one more game of Mermaid Princess Super Heroes. I am worth the hour and half I take every morning to work out because I know it makes me a better human throughout the day. I am worth all the effort and cost that comes with participating in a program like Stronger U. I am worth giving myself a day off.
If I feel like taking two baths in one day, I’m doing it. I am finally confident that an investment in my physical and mental well-being is what’s best for my whole family.
I am confident enough to politely decline doing things I don’t want to. I now frequently use straightforward and confident no’s to protect the yeses that matter to me.
I am secure that even if my husband and I disagree or even fight, he will still be my biggest fan (even when I resentfully accuse him of being wrong when he is very obviously right.) Ten years and so much life together has made me realize what kind of a person he truly is, and how lucky I am to love and be in love with him.
I’ve shed a lot of the resentment that comes with being the military Dependent, all while knowing it’s me who keeps my family operational. Military life is challenging. The deployments, the moving, the instability, and the myriad of other curveballs thrown our way have beaten me down in many moments. But, when pick myself back up, or am helped up by one of my people, I know I am stronger yet somehow more empathetic.
I feel thankful for the capability that comes with challenge.
I am more optimistic about the future. I previously had a hard time finding common ground with folks who think differently from me. Living so many different places and meeting so many different people has instilled in me the sense that we are all going to be OK. The vast majority of us are just doing the best we can for ourselves and our families.
So, cheers to the Women of a Certain Age who don’t give a flip about how many trips around the sun they have taken. May you know them, love them, and be them.