It was my youngest son’s second birthday this week. We had a lovely day (despite the rain), with presents, balloons, grandparents and the constant crazed screeching of party blowers.
I don’t know if it’s the excitement and subsequent comedown, the volume of cake and wine consumed, or the reminder of passing time, but I always get so reflective on birthdays.
Whether it’s my birthday, or a loved one’s, there always seem to be key themes to my ruminations.
As a Mother, obviously my children’s special days always have me reminiscing about their births. For one, I always wonder why we celebrate the babies, when it was us Mama’s that put all the hard, and very painful, work in! (So I always make sure to treat myself to a glass or two of fizz).
But, children’s glory-stealing aside, I do enjoy the opportunity to think back on those two incredible occasions. The pain, the exhaustion, the fear, the pride, the elation. There’s nothing that can be compared to bringing life into the world.
Neither of their arrivals went according to plan, but there really is nothing like childbirth to remind you how powerful and resilient women are. (Except from the woman in the cubicle next to me on the induction suite with baby #2, panting, crying and begging to be examined when she wasn’t even in labour yet… )
As a child it’s a badge of honour, but unless you have to fill in a form or perhaps are some kind of avid survey-taker, it’s not often you really think about your age as an adult. So when your own birthday comes around, it’s almost a bit of a shock to remember how old you are!
In my head I’m so much younger than I am. I love Disney, dressing up and colouring – what do you mean I’m 34?!
When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the TV programme Friends (actually I still do!) I remember thinking how cool and grown up they were, and how much I wanted to be exactly like them when I grew up. And now when I watch repeats, I still feel that emotion. Then I realise that in reality, I’m older than they were for half the show and between my friends and I, we’ve experienced all of those “grown up” scenarios I always found so entertaining, and many more besides….!
Age is a funny beast, with its complete disconnect between mind and body. I know the old saying “age is just a number,” but my surgery scars and frown lines do seem to suggest that isn’t true…!
Birthdays really remind you of the passing of time – and the older you get, the quicker it goes.
And whilst I do enjoy reminiscing with my friends and family, as an anxious mind I can really struggle with change. Ruminating alone on the passing of time can often lead me to think about what has been lost, what will be lost in the future, and dare I say the big D.
I know I need to work on thinking harder about what I’ve gained over the years – new skills and experiences, our own home, children – and also what has remained a safe and comforting constant – my husband, family, the most wonderful friendships…
Note to self – remember this when you turn 35 later this year…
As a child, age brings lovely milestones like walking, learning to read, earning a swimming badge. As an adult, it’s altogether more competitive and judgemental.
“By xx I was married with 3 kids”; “Hmm, by your age I ran my own business and had learned to craft ships in bottles”; “Oh yes, by then I’d travelled the world, qualified as an astronaut and re-trained as a yoga master.”
What you have, or haven’t, achieved by each passing year can become a real weight on your shoulders.
The dread of the next birthday dinner when you’ll be required to produce the scroll of “by this age I have…” achievements – on which you will be judged – can really distract you.
From understanding what it is YOU actually want from your own life, not what others demand from you. And from the appreciation of what you have, and how hard you no doubt worked for it.
Plus no one ever asks about the most important achievement – if you’re happy.
Tell me below how birthdays make you feel.