Today is my 37th birthday. I've never been one to worry too much about getting older. I have always seen it as simply part of life; the natural way of things. We all get older. Plus, if I start complaining about being "old" when I'm in my 30's or 40's, I am literally going to spend more than half my life complaining about my age. How does that make any sense? We either get older each year, or, well, we don't... meaning, we're dead. I'll take older, thankyouverymuch!
But sliding down the other side of my 30's, I am struck by how things have changed. I've had the same group of good friends since we were all in our 20's, and we often look around at our lives and wonder, "How did this all happen?!?" Gone are the days of hanging out after work until late on Friday nights, and sleeping in on Saturdays; of spontaneous road trips and weeknight snowboarding; of reading that 1000 page book cover to cover in 36 hours, barely coming up for air. For you, it probably looked a little different, your life as a young adult. But if you're heading towards 40 (or beyond), you have probably noticed things aren't quite the same as they were 10 or 15 years ago. (Especially if you have kids!)
So in honor of my birthday, here are some reflections on my later-30's:
Ten years ago was not 1998
Have you seen that meme? Good grief, that is SO true. I still think 10 years ago was sometime in the 90's. I'm not sure when my mental calendar is going to catch up with the rest of the earth, but I am still floored when I think about how many years have passed since certain milestones, like high school graduation or my marriage (20 years next year, and 15 years in June, respectively).
Movie theater trips are for GOOD movies
David and I were movie people. Before we had kids, we probably saw a movie at least 3 or 4 times a month. We saw just about everything. And if it was awesome, we saw it again. Now, between the expense of going to the movies (seriously, why is it so freakishly expensive!), plus the need for a babysitter, we reserve going to the movie theater for movies we really want to see on the big screen. Even movies that look enjoyable, but aren't necessarily visual or action-packed, don't make the cut. It needs to be theater-worthy, and our standards are pretty high.
"Late" has a new meaning
My first 6 or 7 years of motherhood were spent with at least one child who either a) didn't yet sleep through the night, b) woke at 6am or earlier, or c) both. I was in bed by 10pm every single night. Now my kids are more merciful and don't wake at such an awful hour (have I mentioned I am NOT a morning person?), but I still need to go to bed by 11 in order to be a nice human the next day. Staying up late used to mean 3 or 4am. Now? I'm a crazy party animal if I'm up past midnight.
Shopping for cars is all about utility, and rarely about coolness
I can't even think about cars with any sense of what might be cool to drive anymore. Cars are a tool to get from point A to point B, with a zoo of kids in tow. I wasn't a big car person before, but now? I drive a minivan. And I love that thing. Seriously, the doors slide open so I don't have to freak out about my kids dinging the car next to them! There's plenty of space so they rarely wind up elbowing each other in the back seat! What more do you need out of a car than that? I'm so out of touch with "cars as status or coolness symbol" that when my husband has asked me what kind of car I'd get if I could have any car in the world, I can't fathom anything with seating for less than 7.
I'm still me
My mom once told me that one of the strange things about getting older is that you still feel like yourself - the you from your twenties or thirties or whatever. But as the number gets higher, you feel like you ought to be different somehow. When you're 25, someone who is 40 seems a LOT older than you. You might not think of them as an "old person," but they seem like they are in a different category than you are. It's like the seniors when you're a freshman - dude, they're SENIORS. They're on some other plane of existence. In young adulthood, adults who are a decade or more older than you seem similar - older, more experienced, maybe lamer (maybe not). But then you hit that age, and you think, "Wait, I'm not lame. I'm not some old fuddy duddy. I'm still ME. I'm still the ME that I was when I thought 37-year-olds were like waaaay older than me." And yet now you're the 37 year old. Or in this case, I am. Weird.
Getting older is a funny thing. We move through seasons of life and watch things change, and yet who we are, at our core, remains. I have more experience and (hopefully) more wisdom than I once did. I'm rockin' a little bit of pixie dust in my hair, and my life has certainly changed in a lot of ways. But I'm still me.
With a minivan.