“To Gillian on her 37th Birthday” ‘memba that movie? It keeps popping into my head because I turn 37 today. It came out about 15 years ago, I think. I remember thinking how positively ancient 37 sounded. And here I am. 37. Married, stay at home mom to two kids, a mortgage, a dog, a cat.
My early twenties self would scoff at my 37 year old self. I had no intention of ever getting married–buying into that silly piece of paper that shackled two people together. Bringing children into a world full of suffering, poverty, war, and unhappiness? Selfish and irresponsible.
It is funny that I was in the twilight of selfishness at that point in my life. I thought of little more than designer clothing, partying, and falling in and out of love with all the wrong men. I know that I didn’t have a concept of how to really care about another human being in a meaningful way.
I used to want life to speed up, to get on to the next moment that held all the promise of being better than the last. Now, I would give anything for life to slow down–to be able to savor these delicious moments spent loving my family. How could any moment be sweeter the one spent cuddling my girls, watching Evie’s face light up, or seeing Maxine learn something new? I find myself fighting my tendency to mourn the passing of time and the death of each precious moment.
My twenty something self wasn’t wrong in a lot of ways. The world continues to be the home of so much sadness. And yeah, it probably is selfish in some ways to bring kids into the world. But with the passing of the years, I’ve been able to see beauty and hope in even the darkest moments. I’ve learned to go looking for light and promise. And I’ve learned that alongside the horror and darkness, it is always there, waiting to be discovered and worn as a protective shield around my heart.
I’m not so evolved that I don’t get angry or judgmental. But my hard edges have softened and have given way to a more malleable me. I’ve chilled. A lot. I’m sure that I owe a shout out to my good friend Paxil. But I’ve also put in the hard work to become a person that I’m proud of on most days.
It is really hard to be good. To swallow my pride often. To forgive–usually myself. To go easy on other people. And to look for that thread of goodness that is always woven into the tapestry of life.
Good god, I’ve become a cheesy sentimentalist. But in becoming so, I’ve opened the door to real honest to goodness love and unimaginable happiness. I’m a work in progress capable of smiling with context. And as I nurture my spirit, I try not to think about whether or not I will have another 37 years to marvel at the evolution of myself. And I try to let each moment be fulfilling and enough.