Yesterday was a good day.
I enjoy my birthdays the same way I enjoy New Year's Eve and anniversaries - I like marking time, setting goals, reflecting. I like to sit down and think about where I was last year on this date, and where I want to be next year. I'm a planner by nature, and while I don't love all the hoopla of birthday parties, I value April 21 as a time of personal reflection.
This year is different though. I have never felt much trepidation about getting older - life gets better, and I become more comfortable with myself and more like the person I want to be, as time passes. I try my best to live in the moment and and never worry too much about the future. So why do I find myself frantically pumping the brakes this year? Why am I so thoroughly freaked out to be 28?
Having a kid really does change everything, in ways you can't anticipate. Staring at her innocent face while she sleeps, late nights holding her when she has a fever.... and yes, the hormone-induced anxiety that still causes me to jolt awake at 3am and rush to her room, convinced that she's not breathing.... all of it has altered my perspective in ways that I have struggled to put into words. What it comes down to is this:
My life does not belong to me anymore.
Each year that came and went, before Amaliya, belonged only to me. I had a husband and family, yes, and responsibilities, but I still felt free and emotionally unencumbered. I could reflect on where I had been and where I wanted to go, and saw nothing but possibilities before me. That person slipped away from me the moment my daugther entered the world. The person celebrating this birthday understands on a very different level how fleeting life can be. How a baby enters the world, blinking and crying, and is suddently sitting and eating and trying to walk and almost saying mama and will soon cease to be a baby at all, really. The last 9 months have passed in what seems like a second. And now I understand, the next 5, 10, 20 years are going to go by just as quickly, and it scares me.
I have always looked forward to the future because I know that it will inevitably be better than the present. Now? I find it hard to imagine anything better than being who I am, with my family just as they are, right now. The older I get, the older she gets, the more she knows, the more I worry. Our lives are one life right now, and she's dragging me forward. I would like her to slow down, be content to relax, reflect, stay a baby until I'm good and ready for her to move on to the next stage.
But of course, she can't. This birthday has been all about learning to be okay with that.
I did have a wonderful day, though. I ran a 5K in the morning, met my husband and daughter at the finish line, and walked to Panera for a cup of coffee. Amaliya gave me a wonderful gift - a 3.5 hour nap - and we went to my parents' house in the evening for dad's barbeque, mom's potato salad, and ice cream. I stopped worrying. I stopped thinking about all great things that have passed me by and started thinking about the wonderful adventures that await us. Maybe my daughter will run a race with me one day? Thoughts like that make me feel nothing but excitement for all that lies ahead.
Bring on 29.