Fifteen days after talking myself off the “inadequacy ledge” on New Year’s Eve, it’s my birthday. I’m 35 years old today. I am not sure if turning 35 is considered to be a “big” birthday or not, but it seems to be carrying a good amount of weight for me this year. This, in itself feels odd. I have always been excited about birthdays. I have friends that have shut down when they turned 25, 30, 40, you get it. Not me. I have always been excited to be another year older and, I like to think, wiser as well. Like New Years Eve, birthdays are a time of reflection. So, why does this number, 35, feel so heavy?
In reality, heavy is not always a bad feeling. I am learning this. Over the past two and half years, since my son Hudson was born, I feel a heaviness of emotion that is just that, a lot of powerful, humbling emotion. I could cry every day and often do (I might be tearing up right now but you can’t prove it). That knot in my throat, those tears, well, they are often tears of uncontrollable gratitude for my life. So, today, I question what this heaviness is all about?
I remember turning 30 and being beyond excited to put my twenties behind me. I remember feeling like an adult for the first time and loving the sense of accomplishment that went along with that. I promised myself that on my 35th birthday I would treat myself to a trip. I promised myself a trip to Thailand and Tibet or India. A trip that had purpose. A spiritual journey. Sure, it sounds magical and magnificent but something happened that wasn’t a part of the equation when I was 30. I became a mom. A mom who would love to explore the world and continue to learn and grow and a mom who can’t care bear the thought of leaving her son and missing a single moment let alone 10 days worth of moments for a trip like that. So, yes, there is this bit of sadness that I can’t be that 30 year old version of myself with no real responsibilities other than living my life. There is a bit of sadness in the fact that 5 whole years have passed. Whoa. How does that happen so quickly. And oddly, time only seems to speed up as we age.
I am actually getting older and yes, that can be scary. I feel age differently as a mom. When fear starts to creep in I focus on grounding myself in the moment. Taking it all in and enjoying the here and now. Fear is a funny thing. If you get caught up in it you realize you are missing all the good stuff by worrying about the what ifs. But, it is really easy to get sucked in. Especially as we have more responsibility. More balls to juggle. I have found my new mantra has become “I am okay, I will always be okay”. When we start to put expectations on what “okay” should look like, well that is when we get into trouble. Okay is being alive…If a few of the balls drop or not.
My life is bursting with love. I’m talking about heart hurt love that is powerful and purposeful. Taking a moment to reflect, one thing I have learned over the past several years is to surround myself with love. I have learned to be picky, to free myself from toxic energy that can be really debilitating. We have a choice as to who we let in. When we actually give ourselves the right to control that a bit, to look out for ourselves, it is really rewarding.
Ultimately, I am, of course, grateful. Grateful to be 35. Grateful to have lived another year. Grateful I have the opportunity to drown myself in my son’s love and my wonderful life. Grateful I can manage the challenges that present themselves, and be okay with the fact that I may not always do that perfectly. Grateful that I am learning…slowly…that I don’t have to be everything, all of the time. Grateful I am surrounded by such wonderful people that love me back. Grateful that Thailand, Tibet, India and the world will wait for me.
Katie Cavuto MS. RD
Photo: Rachel Utain Evans