Monday, October 4, 2010

36 and counting

I had a hard time deciding what I should blog about this weekend. At first I thought I should write about how I feel like a squirrel preparing for winter because of all the case lot sales and canning that has been going around here.

Then I considered writing about the Dirty Dash I ran last weekend with some crazy ladies! Or should I write about the beautiful, yet still hot change of seasons that is going on right now.
But ultimately I am going to write about my birthday- and ironically I don't have any pictures of that... yet! Saturday was my 36th birthday. Birthdays are a funny thing. They are a unique balance of owning your expectations, expressing your expectations and having fulfilled other's birthday expectations. Some years I have planned my own party and other years we have gone on vacation (The picture at the top of my blog was taken last year on my 35th birthday at Arches National Park.) But this year was a little quieter and I was just fine with that.
Last week I was talking to a girl at the gym I go to about her turning 30 recently. She was having a hard time turning 30 and I was explaining to her that I have loved my 30s so much better than my 20s. She wanted to know why because other people have said that to her and she just didn't get it. I told her, "Well, I think I am more confident in my 30s and I don't feel the need to compare myself to or please others as much. I figure if you like me- great, if you don't -I'm not going to worry about it." She replied, "I have always been that way, so I guess I just feel old." And I can understand what she means because I remember when I turned 30 it freaked my out because I can remember my own mother being in her 30s. But I left the conversation feeling like there was more to it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that made my 30s better. But then something happened on my birthday that helped me put it into words.
We haven't had a family picture taken for two years, so for my birthday I decided I would schedule to have one taken. Then the day of my birthday I told my kids that their birthday present to me was to not complain about having to take pictures, wearing what I want them to wear and letting me do their hair the way I want them to. Incidentally, after I told my kids this, Annie proceeded to tell me that on HER birthday I had to wear what she wanted me to wear and I had to do my hair the way she wanted me to do it. I told her if this made her happy, then I would gladly do it. So if you happen to see me on June 8th next year and I look sort of "special", you'll know why.
Now you would think that this would be a fairly easy request for my kids. But it did require some initial tongue-biting, especially from Finn. He absolutely hates getting pictures taken, especially professional ones. He insists that our camera does just as good a job. I knew his opinions and I didn't want to hear them on my birthday and at first he did a good job of keeping them to himself. But then the hour of the photo shoot drew near and a friend called to ask if he could hang out. Eric was with me when Finn approached to ask if he could go. I reminded Finn that we had pictures to get ready for. Finn started grumbling. Eric immediately stopped him and said, "Hey, that's not part of the deal." But Finn continued, "I'm not complaining, I just think..." To which Eric interrupted, "You were complaining and it doesn't matter what you think because we are getting pictures taken." I didn't have to say a thing. This honestly meant so much to me because truth be told, Eric hates getting professional pictures taken too. But he respected me and my birthday request enough to support me and take on the criticism himself. He really could have turned to me and said, "Happy Birthday" without giving me anything and I would have been happy. So I've concluded that another reason why I like my 30s so much better is because it doesn't take near as much to make me content. Things aren't nearly as important to me as people. Now don't get me wrong I'm not ready to give up all my material possessions and live a monk-like life. A gift is always well-received. But relationships and doing the little things that make them work are more meaningful to me than big gestures of monetary value. And that brings a lot of satisfaction to my closer to 40 than 30 year old soul.
Another funny event from my birthday was the presentation of gifts from my children. Eric had taken them to the Dollar Store so they could use their allowances to buy me presents. They came home and Finn walks into my room and hands me his unwrapped present and a card with no envelope and nothing written inside. I thanked him for the present, handed the card back to him and said with a sly smile that he forgot to sign his name and tell me how he feels about me in the card. He took it back with a grin and put his John Hancock and an "I love you." in it. At this point Annie walks in with her present all wrapped and her enveloped card with a signature and a "You are the best mom ever!" written inside. What a difference that extra X chromosome makes!


Liz said...

Happy Birthday! You are amazing and you look like you should be in your 20's. How do you do it? I hope you enjoyed your day.

Julie said...

That was an excellent post. I like my 30's better too. My aunt who is in her 60's said that the 50's rocked!! So we have something to look forward too. On another note...have we figured out when we are gonna party with the men?

Lori said...

What kind of a friend am I? I totally spaced your birthday after we talked about it. Happy Birthday!