It’s my birthday today. I suppose “ladies” aren’t supposed to be willing to share how old they are, but I’m not particularly conflicted about it. I’m 47 today.
In some ways, I can’t believe that I’m this age. It seems like just a minute ago I was in college, trying to decide what to do with my life. And then a minute later, I was having my first child. And then I finished grad school and got a teaching job. Then suddenly, here I am a dean with 3 adult children and 3 other teens. I catch myself in the mirror now and then when I’m not expecting it, or see myself in an unfamiliar way (like in an flipped picture or upside down), and I’m surprised at the fact that the middle -aged woman I see is me. I still feel like I’m maybe not old enough to have kids and someone is going to figure it out soon, or not old enough to be a dean, and eventually I’ll get caught.
In other ways, it feels like I’ve done so much in these 47 years. I’ve raised – with my spouse and the help of others – 110 years worth of kids (it’s the new math). I’ve gotten several degrees and some certifications. I’ve seen a LOT of Tom Petty concerts. I’ve written a lot, read even more. I’ve enjoyed the ups (mostly) and downs (some) of two decades of marriage to a great man. It’s a whole bunch of stuff.
I’ve always heard that to know what a woman will be like in the future you should look at her mother. And, while I don’t necessarily think that is accurate, there is certainly something to be said about reflecting on the path of your parents’ lives to see where yours might go, and I’ve always compared my life and my self to my mom at the same age.
My mother died in 1993, at the age of 47. So, as I approach the end of the timeline where I can compare, I am missing my mother quite a lot. I wonder how her life would have been at 50 or 60. I am wishing that she was here to tell me what she thinks of where I am at 47 and where I should go.
I am lucky, however, to have had others who mothered me in the years before and since. My grandmother, Loran, was a second mother to me as a child and into adulthood, and I was able to watch her life course over many years (she died at 90 and we were able to spend 43 years together) and see myself in her. My step-mother, Kathie, has also provided me with that vision of womanhood and time. And there are many other women who have served as examples and points of reference for me.
So, now, as I start a new year, I wonder what is next for me, and where I’m going from here. I know (I think) about some things, like the nutrition consultant certification that I’m getting (hopefully by the end of the summer), and upcoming yoga workshop events. I know which children are graduating from what grades this year, and basically where they are headed and I know those changes will change my parenting. I have some clues about what might unfold in my career(s), but it’s all rather murky right now. Mysterious… in a good way.
Off we go into the 48th year of my life. It’s ok with me to be 47. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year blossoms.