My birthday is coming up soon.
It isn’t a “landmark” year, with a zero or a five. It really doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
But its really making me think.
What does it mean to be turning 56?
For one thing, it definitely means that I am on the “downhill” side of the mountain of life. I don’t expect to see 112 years old, so I’m more than halfway through my ride.
This is, of course, a bad thing because it means that I don’t have as much time I like to tell myself I still have. I have to accept some things. It is doubtful at this point that I will ever have a career as a blues singer, and I need to come to terms with that. That one is easy, because I really can’t sing. More powerful for me are some other dreams. I won’t ever be a world traveler, or a foreign correspondent. I won’t ever be rich and live in a big house overlooking the ocean.
I won’t ever have another child to raise. My Mommy days are really, truly gone. And I can never get them back.
But it is a good thing in some ways, too. I realize now that its getting a little late, and I can’t keep putting things off. I need to throw out the idea of “someday” and just get out there and do things. Its time to buy a real dining room set, for God’s sake. Its time to get on a plane and go visit friends on the West Coast.
Being on the downhill side means its time to stop worrying about the useless crap and start focusing on what is real and true. I don’t care if get overcharged a dollar on some credit card; its not worth my precious time to fight about it! I won’t waste any more minutes worrying about my scratched kitchen floor or the marks on my living room walls. I don’t have enough minutes left to spend them on such trivia!
Life is now: this is it! Its time to stop saving the champagne. And its time to realize that this is the face I have, and I won’t be getting another one. Time to make friends with it! I am not going to find a magic elixer that will give me perfect pink skin and sculpted cheekbones. Gotta get over it.
Being on this side of the hill means that I get to take walks just because its nice outside, not because I should try to shrink my backside. I should eat my fruits and veggies because I like to avoid my doctor, not because I want to get into a size 8. Or 10. Or 12.
Being on the downhill side means that I can ignore the upcoming state tests for one day and let my class have a “readathon” all day long, in our pajamas, with popcorn. I can let go of other people’s expectations and focus on my own.
This year I am a little sad because none of our kids live here any more, and none will be home on my actual birthday. If I had a magic wand, I would spend all day with just Paul and the three of them, the people I love most on earth.
But I am a lucky downhill-side woman, because this year I will get to be the “little girl” for just a bit. I will wake up on my birthday at my own Mother’s house, and I will get to have my breakfast with her! She’ll make me feel special, and she’ll remind me that no matter where I am on that “hill”, for this year at least, I am still somebody’s baby.