Birthdays take on new meanings as we get older

Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

In just a week, I will enter my final year in my 30s.

How can I be 39 already? I imagine we all ask ourselves that at some point, whether it’s 30, 40, 50…you get the point.

I used to think I would be miserable when the time came to turn 40 – that I would refuse to celebrate and try my hardest to quietly move past the day with only myself and my driver’s license aware that I had entered into a new decade.

Nearly six years ago, when my oldest daughter was born just two days after my birthday, I figured my birthday was a moot point anyway. One year we even held my daughter’s birthday party on my birthday. My mom tried to sing me “Happy Birthday” as well, but I waived her off, determined not to take the spotlight off my daughter and shine it on me.

After all, birthdays are much more fun when you’re young. They’re full of innocence and joy – and carefree of what struggles tend to come as each year goes by.

That’s how I used to think, anyway.

Sometimes it takes a significant life event to make you realize how fortunate you are each time a birthday comes and passes.

After the birth of my second daughter two years ago, I developed a heart condition that stemmed from the stress pregnancy can put on the body. To this day, I still battle in hopes of being there for as many of my daughters’ birthdays as possible.

The diagnosis made me realize just how lucky I am to see another birthday every year that comes. It reminds me of an expression I once heard, “Don’t regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

Having said that, I’m not in denial of what aging means. Even at almost 39, I’m noticing an ever-slowing metabolism, an increased difficulty of simply getting up off the floor and my changing attitude toward embracing naps (why should 2-year-olds get all the fun?).

But I’ve also gained a lot already and know there’s much more to gain in the years to come, from perspective and learning what’s really important, to the ability to really appreciate even the smallest moments.

I may be almost – almost – over the hill. And while three years ago that may have scared me, it’s something I’ve learned to embrace and look forward to as each day comes to a close, moving toward an extra candle on the cake.

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

 

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