Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
This is a super-special edition of Tummywatch Tuesday, as today marks not only the 33rd week of my pregnancy but also the 40th year of my birth. Yep. I’m old.
I hadn’t planned on combining the Tummywatch and 4-0 posts. Tummywatch was going to get its very own day—yesterday; Tuesday—and then I figured I’d devote some time on my actual birthday—today; Wednesday—to filling this space with whatever thoughts happened to bubble up.
But then yesterday, I was sick. Spent most of the day sleeping on the couch. I woke there at roughly 12:30 this morning and decided to make my way up to bed. I let the dog out into the rainy December night. Went to the bathroom. Choked down some oyster crackers and a prenatal vitamin. Waddled up the stairs, solidly gripping the handrail, and spent a full five minutes strategically placing and re-placing pillows around my 8-months-preggo body, trying to find the perfect setup that would allow me the longest stretch of uninterrupted sleep. So that’s how my 40th birthday began. Woo hoo! Party on!
Not exactly what I’d envisioned in the past. When I was a kid, those first few birthday hours were usually spent tossing and turning in bed, anticipating the big “me” day ahead. A decade later, they were likely filled with music and friends and at least one shot. Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that I’d spend my 40th birthday on Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’ve never been to Africa, and from what I hear, Mt. Kilimanjaro’s a doable, yet challenging climb. A fabulous experience to cap off the first half of life and set the tone for the second. So that was the loose plan.
I’ll be honest. I got a little winded climbing the stairs to bed last night.
If I’ve learned anything in my 40 years, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. I used to set strict personal goals. I will live in New York by the time I’m 30. I will write for national travel magazines by the time I’m 35. I met a good number of them, too—both of those, in fact. But somewhere along the line, I let go of the strictness. Goals are good, but rigidity can cause you to miss some incredible opportunities.
I never had goals centered around getting married, for example, or having kids. Then I met Clint, and when he asked me to marry him on the anniversary of our first date, I knew, deep down, that there was really was no smart answer besides “yes.” Turns out marriage isn’t straightforward business. Suddenly, your dreams and methods and moods affect another, and vice versa. You function as a team. You buy a house. You renovate a house. You have a kid. Despite not having technically been goals, those things sure do take up a lot of time. Personal goals still exist, of course, but they’re part of a bigger picture; part of working toward a collective, family-type happiness, daily, monthly, yearly.
I am completely OK with this. Because no matter what I had in mind for myself earlier in life, right now, at this very moment, I’m good. I like my job, and the people I’ve surrounded myself with, and the community I live in. I slept pretty well last night, considering my physical state. I got to wake up to a cuddly, healthy 1-year-old in monster footie pajamas telling me, “Happy Birthday, Mommy.” (Even if he later decided it was actually his birthday instead.) My sweet, quietly heroic husband had a vase of flowers and a lovely necklace waiting for me downstairs. I have an afternoon and evening full of small group face-time with friends and family planned. And I’m growing a baby girl, who’s doing fine, by all accounts, and is roughly pineapple-sized now. Let me tell you, this baby-growing thing feels more and more challenging every day.
All in all, forty’s feeling just fine, thanks. Good thing, too, since it becomes clearer each year that time’s moving no way but forward.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, on the other hand, is not going anywhere.
Pineapple image credit: Marty Baldwin
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