Tomorrow marks another year closer to three decades of my existence on Planet Earth. Admittedly, there is, and always has been a strong contradiction between the number of birthdays I’ve celebrated, the age of my face, and the age of my soul. If everyone in the world forgot the year I was born, I would be very confused about my age.
A few months ago, I gazed in the mirror one day to see my first noticeable signs of aging. Before that, I had a face as smooth and white as a baby’s bottom. A baby face, that took at least five to ten years off of my chronological age. When I was pregnant, people gazed at me in shock and horror, as if I were a teen mother. I went to complete paperwork at the bank for my name change, and the teller was taken aback. “I swear, I wouldn’t have thought you were old enough to get married.” I got that, a lot.
Quite the oddity, I was actually excited to see the fine lines across my scarred forehead and around my mouth. I may be the only woman on the planet that was excited to see my face start to catch up with my chronological age! I despised my youthful appearance. I have never felt as if my chronological age fit, nor did I take it as a compliment when someone thought I was a teenager.
I will make an admission; I am one of those people that typically loathes their own birthday. Yes, I find it absolutely pretentious. Except, I do not detest my birthday for the same reasons that everyone else does. As previously stated, I like the aging process. I have always been excited about gaining more numbers. My birthday just falls in a bad time of the year.
Growing up, I secretly envied peers that had birthdays during warmer months. Pennsylvania has reasonable temperatures between March and November. My friends would have all kinds of fun parties, because they weren’t all trapped in the house, buried in four feet of snow, and huddled around the heater in subzero temperatures. Camping parties, pool parties, outdoor parties, indoor parties where we could run around the yard, parties in the park, and every other conceivable party I couldn’t have.
As an adult, the problem grew worse. In the last ten years, I have had two nice days on my birthday. My 22nd and my 24th. Neither of those birthdays had anything planned. I can’t plan a party. Every year I have tried, I was doomed for especially bad weather. My 23rd had to be moved to the weekend of Superbowl Sunday, when the Steelers were playing. Living in Pittsburgh, the Steelers in the Superbowl is more important than anything. When they win the Superbowl, the city gets shut down for two days, because everyone is too busy celebrating to go to work. If they’re not going to work, they sure as hell aren’t going to my birthday party.
People don’t want to come out in January if they don’t have to. I have been cursed with ice storms, heavy snow, and subzero temperatures. So, I stopped planning parties. I stopped planning anything, actually. Because each year, I have been brutally disappointed. Those disappointments mounted into resentment for that day.
Not this year! I don’t especially care what the weather is like. It does not matter if my friends or family notice the date on the calendar or not. I like my birthday. I am celebrating me, and everything my life has amounted to. I am happy with myself, and all that I’ve created and become. There is no need for anyone to justify my thoughts or emotions about me.
I love that it’s on a Saturday, because there are no expectations. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. And, I have all of the time in the day to do anything I do want to do. I will go out and have a lovely dinner on the house. (I already have the voucher). Then, I will buy myself the things that I actually want for my birthday. No expectations, no disappointments.
This past year has been one of the harder ones, but not the hardest. I have made so much progress in all aspects of my life. I am managing my physical and mental health well. My marriage is solid. My career is taking root. And my son is growing. My family is happy and healthy. I am happy and healthy. Those are all of the things I’ve ever wanted. This birthday, I have them all.
The best birthday present ever is the pride that I have in myself. I have walked through fire to get to this point. I may not have done it all gracefully. But, I made it out stronger, wiser, and better for it all.