How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? ~ Satchel Paige
Age has never bothered me much. I don’t recall straining for sixteen (driver’s license), eighteen (alcohol, in my day), or twenty-one (adulthood!). It just was. Another year to survive, another number to mark off the calendar. Even fifty, that half-century milestone, didn’t cause a ripple. It was a big year, too. Married thirty years, finally earning a bachelor’s degree, diving into grad school, but the age? Eh -
But this year, on Friday to be exact, our daughter will be thirty. Yikes! That hits harder than any milestone of my own. How did I get to be the mother of a thirty year old?
As is my norm, I started comparing my life at thirty to her life now, see how I measure up or, more likely, fail to. She’s independent, “in a relationship,” more feisty and sure of herself than I ever was (or am now, most of the time). No children, which I keep telling her is fine, but insensitive family members and a personal physician who should know better have an impact on her psyche.
Not all women are cut out to be mothers. At eighteen, I was wise enough to know that of myself. Unfortunately, I allowed the patriarchal religious community we found ourselves in shortly after we married to convince me otherwise. I love my children dearly and can’t imagine life without them, but I also know they deserved a better mother growing up than I was able to be at that time. To thine own self be true, my daughter.
At thirty, I was ten years married, mother of two, fighting recurring bouts of depression and vague health issues no one could satisfactorily identify. The only concrete memory I have of that birthday was receiving the legendary ribbon-tied floral box with thirty long-stem red roses from my father. Never before or since have I had such a delivery. Other memories are lost in the haze of too many anti-depressants and too little sleep.
We worked hard to make ends meet, my hubby and I, but it was rarely enough to do more than make it to payday. We learned to be adults as we grew into our marriage, making it up as we went along. We still wonder how we survived. The constant struggles of never enough are the times I’d hoped to spare our children, but we failed in that regard. We were never taught to handle money well, so that particular talent was not something we were able to pass on to them.
And now she’s thirty – a milestone, to be sure, but I hope not a stumbling block. I want her to continue to grow into herself, to find her bliss. I want her to find a life partner and soul mate to stand by her in good times and bad, as I have found in her father. If her dreams include motherhood, so be it. But I hope it will be a conscious decision, for the right reasons. Her children, and her mother, will thank her.
Happy birthday to our beautiful Megan ~
The years teach much which the days never knew. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson