Life should be celebrated. And that includes birthdays.

This past week, I reached an age I’ve been dreading.

No, it’s not 50. But I’ve spent months avoiding thinking about this birthday, so there was quite a bit of angst in the days leading up.

I made good use of my pensive reflectiveness and wrote some thoughts about getting older.

I jotted them down on scraps of paper, spoke them into my voice recorder as I drove, wrote them in my journal, voxed (Voxer is an awesome smartphone app) them to my sister and even got so far as to write a few drafts of thoughts here.

Some thoughts were complaints, really. About catching my reflection in the mirror and not recognizing myself. About memory and the lack of it. About sleep and aches and wrinkles.

Some thoughts were mournful and full of regrets and should haves. I questioned all my life choices, my mothering, my relationships, my work…

My mother was the one who put my lament to words. I like to call and thank her on my birthday, you know, on account of all the work she did to bring me into the world. It’s as much a celebration for her as it is for me.

Neither one of us enjoys math, so I just tell her right out how old I am now so she doesn’t have to do any calculating. “Ah,” she says. “You’re closer to XX than XX now.”


People who are better with words than numbers just round things up or down…

and that is why I have been feeling so sorry for myself. We’re past rounding down now.

I know every one of you who has passed the 50 year line is saying, “Forty-something? You’re still a baby!” Which is exactly what I want you to say. It makes me feel better. Please keep saying it.

And math is also responsible for this new habit I have of noting whose parent I could be. NCAA basketball player? I could be his mom! The guy giving the presentation at work? I could be his mom! The new PE teacher? I could be her mom! But wait, you don’t do math, you say.  Well, it’s easy. I just laid awake one night and divided my age in half (which every second grader could do with my age), realized that’s how old I was when I got married, used that number as a convenient dividing line, and now anyone who is younger than that is officially my offspring. It’s not exact.

Story problems…

My sons are actually good at math and are not into rounding down, especially if it involves skipping past another rounding point. They are into exact. Some years ago now, when they were in the habit of  asking how old are you? how old is dad? how old is grandma? how old is that guy?, I told them I was 32.

The boy who was in second grade at the time was immediately suspicious. He said, I thought you were 38 last year and refused to comply with my request to default to “32” moving forward.  He was right. Good memory, that one.

They have learned, however, so this year when they asked and I said, “As far as you’re concerned I’m 39,” they didn’t object. If they did any math, they did it in their heads — and kept the answer to themselves.

But then as my birthday approached, heartbreak and pain and loss touched people around me and across the world, and I snapped out of my mourning for myself. Mourning is for loss and I have gained. I am blessed, so very, very blessed to have lived this many years. And life should always be celebrated.

The processing the passing of time is necessary for growth. Reflecting on the bad and good, remembering God’s grace, mercy and His deep love.

“Teach us to number our days,” said Moses, “that we may present to you a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) 

The problem is we get stuck counting — I get stuck there — counting yesteryear’s messes and failures. I let them weigh on me and press doubt into my calling. I let them silence me.

This year, rather than resist time, I will try to embrace it. I will keep asking God for a heart of wisdom and keep leaning on my sisters and mothers and grandmothers ahead of me.  I’ll own my years, because I have always believed that experience — both good and bad — has value and the wisdom that comes with age has inestimable worth. I will not stop believing that now, even if it scares me.

And I will number my days.

They are 16,790.

I’ll let you do the math…

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a season of uncertainty and certainty

I wrote so many thoughts over the weekend and not one of them is ready for print. Not even on the internet.

I did, however, have a breakthrough last night when I realized the post I had written was the very thing I needed for something else but was definitely not the right thing to post here.

Sometimes, I wish I had written things for people to read when I was so sure, so certain of equations and sums.

If I am this sort of wife then, if I am this sort of mom then, if I am this sort of worker then . . .

But I’m very glad I didn’t. Because now, as much as I may like to think a thing should be this way, or this effort should produce this result, I know outcomes are not always up to me.

Perhaps that is the real crisis of mid-life.

Suddenly, the things you thought were real and true and guaranteed do not turn out as you expected.

The marriage you thought was unbreakable is broken. The effort you put in seems wasted. Children grow up and make their own choices in spite of (and sometimes to spite) you.

I am more reluctant now to open my mouth with certainty. Because what will come of it all is not yet known.

Because the important of yesterday fades as the walk becomes more by faith less by sight. Where I once thought I had a measure of control, I have discovered I have none at all. And the great mystery to me is that the less I am sure of myself, the more I am sure of God.

Because if you ask me if I believe people can change, I will say yes without a shade of doubt.

Ask me if there is hope in the worst of circumstances, and I will say always and never give up.

Ask me if the broken can be restored, and I will say nothing is so broken it cannot be mended.

Ask me how to parent a child, and I will say pray always without ceasing.

Ask me how to keep a marriage together, and I will say forgive.

Most things I write need to sit a while . . . and then filter through life and be worked out . . .

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middle age, metabolism, and Monday

I figure I’m right in the middle of the August of life, which is still summer, if you know what I mean.

Someone used “middle age” to define my season the other day, and I have to say I was a little offended.

Although — to be fair — if I’m blessed to live for 90 years, and I’m 45, I guess technically you really can’t get any more middle than that.

It’s not so much denial as perhaps my failure to adjust to the change of seasons. I figure I’m right in the middle of the August of life, which is still summer, if you know what I mean.

Well, maybe I’m more like August 22nd in a perpetual last-week-before-school-starts frenzy of doing all the things, buying all the things, trying not to feel to awfully bad about all the things on your summer list you didn’t get to, and rushing to Office Max at the last minute hoping you get to the college-ruled composition books before all they have left is One Direction. And in front of me is September, when the Pacific Northwest weather’s suddenly rainy, then warmer, then cooler, then cold mornings and intensely hot 3 p.m.’s and you’re sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game in Seattle in October getting a sunburn . . . (don’t read too much into that).

So, half way through my 45th year, I suppose I should accept that I’m staring down autumn pretty hard.  And I think I’m finally okay with it. Except the lack of metabolism.

No. This is serious. I’m in a season where merely looking at sugar is the new actually consuming sugar.

I’ve got fat now where I used to be super smug that I didn’t. Watch out, young braggarts. Even after four babies I had a flat stomach. Had, being the operative word here.

And there really is only one solution to this problem. (Well, of course there are others, and I know them and need to do them, but do please hear me out here . . .)

Mom jeans.

That’s right. For the first time since the 90’s,  I bought a pair of pants that hits me at my natural waistline. Surprisingly, they’re far more comfortable than the hipsters I’ve worn forever, and they seem to have the side benefit of reducing the muffin top. Who knew?

Also, I could actually wear the size I still am in my head, which was quite pleasant because that never happens with low-rise jeans. And hey, if I don’t tuck my shirt in, no one will ever know . . .

Unless, hypothetically, in your rush to get out the door to work you accidentally leave one of the forty-six stickers of marketing brilliance on the jeans and walk through the office with a shiny Ultrastretch plastered across your bum.

It could happen . . .

And also . . . I just realized why I fit into the size I thought I should. Wow. Really — just now.

But seriously, last week was hard. I had to go buy clothes, and I would so much rather buy that cute little red-fluted crockery dish than try on thirty-six dresses that are decidedly NOT “all about that bass.”

It was so traumatic, I yearned to stop in Trader Joe’s and buy dark chocolate covered anything to make me feel better.

And then it hit me. Duh. That that’s part of the reason I’m feeling crappy about the shape I’m in. I can’t eat like I used to. And that is so sad. Partly because it’s just a bummer and partly because I have a houseful of men who can pretty much eat whatever they want and run it off.

I resisted Trader Joe’s. (cue applause)

I have to face the reality that at my age (yes, I said it) and with my metabolism it’s going to take long-term commitment and discipline. The for-the-rest-of-my-life kind.  Cuz if I told you how many calories a person my age and my height and tiny bone structure needs, you would cry for me. Or you would say, Oh Honey, learn to love running.  

I guess I say all this because the need for discipline is hidden around every corner of my life right now. And I see value in the daily and the mundane — as much as my flibbertigibbet spirit resists it.

So here’s my simple prayer for a new week:

God, help me to accept that my body is not what it once was, and please help me take good care of it now. Help me embrace a season of discipline without becoming obsessed. And please help me resist the free M & M’s  at work, you know how much of a temptation they are on Mondays. Amen.

Happy Monday!

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P.S. What’s your favorite thing about your current season of life and what’s the thing you could really just do without? Write it here in the comments. I would love to know!