Happy birthday to me

chrissycsmith July 31, 2014 Comments Off on Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me

Today I am 37 years old.
This happens every single year, my birthday. And it never fails to surprise me.
In my head, I haven’t aged much. I mean, I have changed, in good ways (I think). I’m not the same doofus from my 20s, prone to drama and foolishness and poor dating choices. But I’m mostly the same me, just new and improved.
Then I look in the mirror, and, WHAT IN THE WORLD. I expect to see a 22-year-old looking back at me, but instead I see…my mother.
This is not a bad thing. My mother is attractive, and I take it as a compliment when people mention our resemblance. But now I REALLY resemble her, the mom in my head, the one who fussed about cleaning my room and checked that I didn’t just stuff everything under the bed. The mom who cried when she first saw me in my wedding dress.
THAT’S the mom I’m starting to see, the mom I remember from childhood who’s just about…my age.
Add that to the fact that I’m aging AT ALL, which seriously, this kind of blows my mind sometimes. I mean, I know it happens, I’ve seen it happen to other people. But me? I just got out of college! Practically. Almost 20 years ago. But come on, I still have my homecoming dress from my junior year dance hanging in my closet! I still have my costume from my high school senior play! Because I’m so youthful! Or a hoarder. A hoarder with crow’s feet.
It’s disturbing, really–the crow’s feet, not the hoarding. I apply my anti-aging serum, and I take a really good, close look at myself, and I see it. HOLY HECK THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. I mean, I AM AGING.
It feels bizarre, like, how is this happening to me when I am but a child?? But the cold truth is I’m not 18 anymore, and nobody will ever mistake me for 18 AGAIN EVER. Ever.
And would I want to be 18 again, anyway? Heck, even 22? My skin might have been smooth and taut as a drum, but I had no idea who I was. I was insecure and silly and I cared, A LOT, about what others thought of me.
At 37, I’m kind of over it. I drive a minivan. (It’s awesome.) I wear hideous orthotic Crocs because they are comfortable and great for my flat feet and bunions, and did I say 37? I meant 77.
But seriously, I now have a better sense of who I am and what’s important to me. Like, people who have ugly things to say about other people are not worth my time. Laying out in the sun is a dumb idea. Tanning in a bottle is genius. I love the Land’s End catalog, and the last concert I attended was Billy Joel. (Don’t hate.) Before that it was Britney Spears, and I sat down half the time and didn’t even care. Because people, if I am wearing my stilettos and not my orthotic Crocs, THERE’S GONNA BE SITTING, even at Britney Spears.
But here’s the most important thing. In 37 years I’ve learned that I have a whole lot of learning left to do. I have more reading to do, more questions to ask, I crave more genuine curiosity for the world and people around me. Funny, because when I was 18, I knew everything. I had strong opinions, and I voiced them. LOUDLY. Often in the campus newspaper. (Just thinking about some of those op-eds makes me cringe.) Well, here I am, twice as old and half as opinionated, because some things just aren’t worth hollering about. Except for when it comes to my kids, who really need to be hollered at, and often.
Interestingly enough, my parents seem to have gotten smarter as I’ve aged. Like, I often go to them for advice, and I might even–gasp!–follow it. I’m not sure how this happened, because 18-year-old Betsy was convinced they were fools who could NEVER POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND ANYTHING. I mean, they were PARENTS, and sure they were my age once, but that was like A REALLY LONG TIME AGO.
Turns out, my parents are real, actual people. I know. It’s a lot to take in, but I speak the truth. My parents, your parents, they’re real people with feelings and dreams and fears, and here’s a shocker–they might sometimes get off the phone with you because “Mad Men” is on. This is still a little jarring because that’s my MOM, she’s supposed to be fascinated with the details of my seasonal allergies.
But generally, she’d rather watch “Mad Men,” and OK, I get it. I’m on the downhill slope to 40, and I understand these things. Seasonal allergies are not interesting. Don Draper is.
Here’s to 37 more years. At least.
Happy birthday to me. And Happy Birth Day to you, Mom. 37 years ago, you were watching Mary Tyler Moore and yaddayaddayadda I was born in four hours. Thanks for doing that for me.

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