Friday, September 05, 2008

An open letter to age 32

Dear age 32,

Well, this is it -- the last night you and I will spend together. We've been together a while (almost a year, strangely enough), and before we part ways for good, I wanted to lay some things on the line.

You've given me a great deal to remember you by -- the third trimester of pregnancy, labor pains, and the birth of my son, most remarkably. On the whole, you've brought me some of the most vivid and unforgettable experiences of my life, and I'm grateful. I *will* say, though, that since the boy's arrival, you've neglected to provide me with as much sleep as I used to get from, say, ages 28 and 29. So I'm chalking that one up in the "could have been better" column, but still -- I don't mean to sound ungrateful.

Before you go, I do have one bone to pick with you. I was always given to understand that along with your arrival, I'd be getting wiser, gaining insight and knowledge heretofore reserved for the most sage women around. And I have to say -- not so much. I thought by now, I'd have a lot more figured out -- like my true professional calling, or how to perfectly balance being in the moment with planning for the future. I thought, too, that I'd use this time with you more wisely to get into what I seriously wrote in a journal to be "the best shape of my life." And, um, to put it lightly, no. Unless "soft" is a shape.

In a few key areas, then, age 32, you just didn't deliver what I thought you'd promised. You remind me of that guy I dated in grad school who wanted to give me a string of freshwater pearls for my birthday. (Let me point out, age 32, that it was his idea and not mine.) We talked about the size of the pearls I liked -- we compared freshwater with cultured pearls -- we discussed strand length. We planned out exactly the kind of accessory that would suit me and my existing wardrobe perfectly, leaning more toward Jackie O. than Barbara Bush, of course -- and on my birthday, I unwrapped not the perfect pearl necklace I had come to anticipate with guilty avarice, but a green ceramic dolphin. The guy explained he hadn't been able to find the perfect necklace after all, and nothing short would do, and really, things were kind of tough and he couldn't quite swing it right now after all ... all of which I understood very well, and was truly sympathetic to -- but I just didn't get why the hell was I getting a ceramic dolphin, then? Age 32, you know I do not collect ceramics, have no particular affinity for dolphins, and don't even consider green to be my favorite color. So I was first surprised, then confused, then disappointed and hurt -- but what did I do? I smiled and like a moron acted like it was the best damn ceramic dolphin ever. Really, I love it. No, don't feel bad -- I know exactly where I'll put it at home. 

Anyway, age 32, I digress, but the point is that you, too, promised a few things that you didn't end up coming through with. But this time around, it really is ok. Because what you delivered, you delivered in a big way, and it more than made up for the wisdom I didn't obtain and the jeans size I didn't reach. And I'll admit, too, that along with the baby's arrival, you brought me a sense of deeper connection to my family and to other mothers than I ever thought possible. Besides, I hear you and age 33 are pretty close -- and I figure you wanted to leave a few things for age 33 to give me.

So farewell, my friend. Thank you for the last painful, difficult, sleep-deprived, glorious year. Thank you for the first smile, the first feeding of rice cereal, the first time boy said "da-da." Thank you for the quiet moments spent with the two most amazing men in my life -- the boy and his daddy. Thank you for the hours we've passed laughing in delight at our family antics -- crawling on the floor, splashing in the tub, blowing bubbles on a baby's perfect belly. Thank you for the way you've made my heart feel so full that my chest is tight with joy and it's hard to breathe. 

Age 33's got a lot to live up to.

The almost-birthday girl

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