It’s my birthday today. I’m turning 35 and I’m not even broken up about it. I’m a legit, grown-ass woman now.
There’s something about hitting that mid-30’s mark that feels significant. It’s kinda….um, rad. I use to think 30 was so old…and then I arrived here and I was like “well this isn’t so bad”, except I now have to worry about good arch support, kegels and daily fibre in my diet.
Being in my 30’s is actually really awesome. I’ve left behind the nonsense, albeit hilarity of my 20’s, and I’ve transitioned into, what I considered to be, a more respected and sophisticated age demographic. Of course, I still wear nighties that feature cats in berets with shopping bags or smiling sheep and the slogan “fast asheep”, but I have my students loans officially paid off and sometimes younger people call me “ma’am”, which I find hilarious and slightly off-putting. Oh, and I’m a mom! So, I definitely feel like a real grown up.
I do love birthdays even though they are pretty anticlimactic at this stage of life. Nevertheless, I forget this every year and wake up full of excitement and ideas of grandeur for what the day will entail. “Anything could happen today, it’s my birthday!”, I think. The thing is, as a “grown-ass woman” no one really remembers or cares that it’s your “special” day, you still have to get up in the morning and do boring adult things and chances are, you’ll probably have to buy or make your own cake.
When I was a girl, I use to fantasize about being a grown up and how wonderful it would be to make my own decisions. I imagined eating donuts for breakfast, wearing make-up, having 27 pets and staying up late to watch adult-rated programming.
Well, adulthood hasn’t really measured up to my childhood expectations. Turns out, I have a pretty nasty wheat intolerance, so donuts are off the menu, I can barely manage mascara, my three pets feels like a zoo to me and I’m in bed every night by 9 and if I am up later it’s because I’m hustling to get work done and not watching tv. Being “grown up” is hardly what I thought it would be as a child but ya know, that’s okay. I mean how sad would my life be if I actually fulfilled my girlhood dreams of eating donuts for breakfast, painting on makeup like a clown every morning (because I most certainly have the skill of an eight year old in this department), living amidst the stench and filth of 27 pets (half of which undoubtedly would be of the barnyard variety) and watching late night television into the wee hours of the morning.
Yes, obviously I am grateful for my life as it is today. I’m grateful that with age, brings change, growth and many new and evolving desires. You learn that owning 27 pets is ridiculous and you actually prefer your face without make-up. You gain perspective on the world, not just as you exist in it, but as others do too. You witness and maybe even experience devastating pain, loss and tragedy. You realize that contrary to what you might have thought at one stage of your life, you know very little and find yourself trusting your gut more and relying on your university diplomas far less.
This is why I welcome the celebration of 35 years. I’ve seen and done some profoundly weird, awesome and sketchy stuff. I hope this ride continues to thrill. Good and bad, it’s all contributed and shaped me into the woman, and mother I am today.
So, I thought, this year, I’m going to embrace my “grown-ass woman” status and make this birthday damn significant by honouring the playful, naivety of childhood and asking myself, “what would my eight year old self like to do today?” and then, do that!
This is definitely an exercise in being playful, something that, as adults, we readily neglect. Our adult lives are busy, stressful and jammed with meaningful and not so meaningful tasks that “have to get done”. We so rarely take a break from this, like really take a break.
I welcome any of you to do this with me. It doesn’t have to be your birthday and it doesn’t have to be an entire day. It can just be one small act of fun and playfulness, inspired by your former child self.
Ask yourself: “what would my eight year old self like to do today?” and do it! It could be eating an ice cream cone, hoola hooping in the park, writing a letter to a pen pal (friend from away), eating your lunch outside, having a sleepover with a friend, playing a round of MASH, beading a necklace, bedazzling your work blazer or making up a ridiculous story about a flying goat named Martha and her pickle side-kick, Frederick. It’s honing your sense of curiosity, play and imagination. Remember those?! Ah yes, dear old friends. They probably dusty and might smell of must but they are eager to make an appearance.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves as “grown-ass women” is to forget our age and try to reacquaint ourselves with some good ol’ fashion fun…silly, pointy party hats and all.