It’s only been recently that I’ve begun feeling the significance of my birthdays. Up until now, they’ve been days in which my loved ones showed me their love with gifts and cake. I never really thought about the number attached to each birthday celebrated. Turning 30 was no big deal, which surprised me. I’d heard stories of people experiencing some sort of identity crisis — thinking 30 was old. Thinking I’d dodged an emotional bullet, I skipped happily along through the next decade, having a baby at 32, buying a house at 36 — doing the “grown up” thing, but never really feeling my age. In my head, I still felt like I was in my late 20s’.
I figured I’d experience that crisis when I turned 40, but surprisingly, I still felt fine. I celebrated my twelfth wedding anniversary and my daughter turned eight. These were not milestones marked by old people! Even the increasing number of grey hairs I fought with trips to the hair salon were not an indicator — I started getting grey hair at 16 years old. It meant nothing! And at 40, I figured I still hadn’t reached the halfway point of my journey on this earth. With grandparents on both sides that lived well into their 80s’, and a maternal great-grandfather who passed at the age of 103, my calculations had to be right.
Fast forward ten years to 2014. I turned 50, but I had a senior in high school — my own mother was 38 when I graduated from high school, so having a high school graduate at 50 meant I was still young, right? Right?
Yesterday my girl turned 21. Twenty-one. TWENTY-ONE. Her boyfriend (aka “The Tall One”) took her to her favorite restaurant, The Spaghetti Warehouse, where she ordered a glass of wine and was a little miffed they didn’t ask for her ID. Yesterday was the first birthday in 21 years that I did not see my girl or plan her celebration. She went to her classes, went to work, went back to her apartment and got ready for her birthday date with her boy. We chatted on the phone a couple of times during the day and I sent her lots of birthday love via text emojis, but I have to tell you — it was really strange waiting until her daddy got off work today, to drive up to Houston to spend the afternoon together.
Today I think I finally felt my age. I have an adult daughter who makes me so proud. She doesn’t do everything perfectly (said in an effort to appear unbiased), but she puts forth her best effort and she is navigating adulthood very well. We went for an early dinner at Sweet Paris Creperie and then shopped at The British Isles and a lovely stationery shop, Dromgoole’s, that sells Montblanc pens (good heavens, those things are expensive!) and boxes of Crane stationery (so hard to find). As I watched her navigate the aisles of the shops dressed in a cute outfit and heels, she looked so flipping grownup — and I realized she is. I don’t have a little girl or even a teenager anymore. I have a wonderful husband I’ve known and loved for half my life, and I’m mom to a lovely young woman who makes me smile (and sometimes cry, but in a good way) whenever I spend time with her. I think I finally feel my age, and that’s okay.