At the end of October, my parents will be celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary. My birthday is the day after. As a little girl I could not understand why people would look at me strangely when I would proudly declare that I was born the day after my parents got married. Or, why my mother was always quick to point out that it was two years after their wedding.
Yes, that means in a few short weeks I will be 46. When I look at the number 46 in relation to me, I just can’t quite seem to grasp that I’m “that” old.
There’s no way to pretty it up. I may have a kid in first grade and watch the PBS Kids channel, but I’m middle aged.
When you consider that 46 x 2 is 92, I might be even a bit beyond.
“Mom, I just thought of something,” announced our 12-year-old,
Tom, a few weeks ago when I was driving him to school.
“In a few weeks you are going to be 4 years from 50. Isn’t that hysterical?”
“Oh, yea, really hysterical. I can’t stop laughing!”
Where the heck did the time go? Has it really been 30 years since my Sweet 16 surprise party? It feels like it was just yesterday.
I can still envision the pink rose corsage with the sugar cubes my parents bought me. Or remember how I felt when I went to school and saw the ‘Happy Birthday’ sign my friends made me.
I was a very innocent 16-year-old. I didn’t have my first kiss until the spring of that year. Yet, I do remember it was at 16 when I realized it was official, I was on my way to adulthood. There was no turning back. Some people may have been excited at this prospect, I was terrified.
My dream was to become a singer and actress on Broadway. I wanted to live in Manhattan and had from the time I was a little girl. I saw the skyline all lit up on the few occasions my family would drive through the city to cross a bridge and I was enthralled. I knew in my heart that was where I belonged.
Since I also knew I wanted children one day, I figured at some point I might move back to the suburbs. But, I was adamant… I was not going to ever live on Long Island again.
My plan was that I would marry around age 25 and surely have my first child before I hit the extremely old age of 30. I would effortesly manage a busy thriving acting career with a very happy home life. Piece of cake.
Ten years later, my 26th birthday found me working in an office job I truly liked and living in the city I loved. My roommate and I had moved into a high rise apartment almost a year before.
I was very excited because it was the first of the five apartments I had lived in that had a dishwasher. I also loved that since we lived on the 26th floor, every night I could look out our window and see the lights of the city.
I had exchanged the dream of an acting career for the reality and joy of paying my bills and eating.
Even though I was four years shy of my 30th birthday, I felt as if my life was starting to take shape. Joe and I had been dating for more than a year, and I was sure that this would be the person I would marry. He had planned a great birthday weekend for me complete with a Broadway show.
Even though I was content to watch others preform, I still felt my creative soul longing to get out. Something felt missing.
I thought of going back to school, and was volunteering at my church’s help line calling senior citizens who were shut in. I was content with the decission to stop pursuing an acting career. But at 26, I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew” up.
Fast forward 10 years to when I was six months pregnant with our second child. We had recently moved six blocks from where I grew up, and I was a full-time mommy.
Let me repeat that, I was now living on Long Island only blocks from where I grew up. This was the last thing in the world my 16-year-old self thought would become of me. Yet, I was very happy.
My favorite birthday present was a then two-year-old Tom singing Happy Birthday to me with Joe. I remember that we went out to lunch at Wendy’s because that’s where Tom wanted to take me, and I was thrilled since I was constantly craving their vanilla Frosties. This craving had nothing to do with me, mind you, and everything to do with the little girl I was pregnant with.
My creative energy was being used raising my son and helping him through his speech delays and suspected learning issues. I was thirty-six, married, a homeowner and a soon to be mom of two. In a few months, I would have the “ideal” family of a boy and a girl. What more could I want?
Occasionaly I had thoughts of doing something more, but I was too busy with my life to pay them much mind.
Now weeks away from my 46th birthday, I feel closer to the creative part of myself than I ever have before. Discovering my love of writing a year ago has brought a sense of joy and peace I don’t remember having since I was a teenager preforming on stage.
I sit at my computer and let my thoughts take over and form words on the screen. I get excited when the perfect sentence comes to me. It may sound silly or even trite, but I feel alive.
My family is now complete with two boys and a girl. Being the mother to three children, one with very serious issues, takes up most of my energy and time.
But last year when Peter started full-day kindergarten, I found the time to listen to the stirrings my soul. It’s a little scary, but also very exciting.
Is it possible to finally find out what you want to be when you grow up at age 46?
Just what will the next 10 years bring? I can’t wait to find out.