This month, I turned thirty-five. Sort of a milestone - another five-year mark. A little bit closer to the big four-oh.
I don't feel old. Of course, getting carded at the liquor store the night before my birthday and at the restaurant at my birthday dinner helped. I couldn't whip that ID out fast enough! But I don't feel old, whether I'm asked for ID or not. I don't feel anything, really. No aging-related angst over here. I had my little mid-life crisis at twenty-five - a full decade ago.
Ridiculous, I know.
But twenty-five was always that number in my head - you know, "by the time I'm (whatever age) I'll be (a chiropractor / married to the man of my dreams / working on a screenplay) and I'll have (two children / a Porsche / three novels published)." Everyone has a list of goals growing up and an age in the back of their mind for when those goals will be met. Well, mine was twenty-five.
On my twenty-fifth birthday I had a full-out mid-life crisis meltdown. (At twenty-five! Twenty-five!)
I felt like at twenty-five years old I'd accomplished nothing with my life. I'd met none of my goals - except I'd never even really fully formed any specific goals. I was coasting and drifting through life, vaguely dissatisfied and vaguely hopeful but completely directionless. I was back, after a few stabs at grown-up jobs that bored me to tears, to working in a full-time position at the same job I'd had through university because it felt comfortable and I was good at it and it made me happy, but I was also vaguely embarrassed about it. I was mildly unhappy in my marriage, starting to realize we'd married too young and were very different people than we'd been a few years earlier. I was terrified to make any changes, terrified of what other people would think, terrified of my family's reaction. I was lonely, depressed, and partying instead of facing or changing anything. I was competely aimless but too apathetic to move forward. At twenty-five I was not the person I wanted to be and not living the life I wanted to live and had no idea how or what to change. Twenty-five was not the greatest time for me to become introspective about my life.
In very short order after my twenty-fifth birthday (and completely unrelated to my birthday breakdown) I got pregnant, had a baby, moved, had another baby, got divorced and moved again. In the space of three years I'd gone from a working married woman - who was miserable - to an unemployed single mother of two - who despite everything was happy for the first time in years.
Becoming a mother changed everything for me. I found a purpose in life, a source of joy. I rediscovered hope and happiness and love, which had been missing from my world for a long time. I started to grow and change into a new person, a better person, a person I actually liked. I had a centre. Having children is always the biggest thing that can happen in anyone's life - but for me it was literally life-changing.
And then, odd as it may seem, getting divorced was probably the next biggest and most positive thing that's ever happened to me. It was the most agonizingly difficult decision I've ever had to make, it was a devastatingly heartbreaking process, and some of the fallout was absolutely shattering. But despite how difficult it made my life for a while - the raw pain that had to stay hidden most of the time, facing down a future full of uncertainty, returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom and sending my poor sweet innocent babies off to daycare, working from home into the wee hours of the morning to make ends meet on a single income, trying to provide a happy life and family home for my boys all on my own - it was still one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I learned to be strong. I learned to be independent. I learned self-confidence. I devoted myself utterly to becoming the best mom I possibly could, and along the way became the best person I've ever been.
And now I'm thirty-five. Married for three years to the man of my dreams, living in the home of our dreams and with a third beautiful boy to complete our family, I'm happier and more at peace than I ever dreamed possible. So I'm just fine with being thirty-five. Maybe forty will be a problem for me - who knows. But for now I'm happy with who I am and where I am, cherishing every moment of every day and looking forward to the future.
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