I don't feel like I am 37 years old. I don't feel like I have five-year-old twin boys. In fact, I routinely forget my age and often accidentally shave a few years off.
A friend of mine is turning 40 this year. I laughed at him. I mocked him and smugly made old man comments.
He replied, "Aren't you going to be 38 this year?"
It stopped me dead in my tracks. I am two short years away from 40. When did this happen? Is my mother really pushing 60? Are those gray hairs because of age, not my twin terrors? I did the math. Yup – I am closer to 40 than I am to 30. Those gray hairs are becoming harder and harder to ignore and my crows feet are becoming deeper.
The idea of getting older never really bothered me. I'm glad to be here for my kids, for my husband, and I'm truly thankful that I'm in good health. However, the idea that I will be turning 40 in two incredibly short years stopped me.
I don't feel close to 40. I don't feel 20 anymore (thank God), so maybe more like 30. When I go out without my children, I'm still the one laughing the loudest and behaving questionably for a woman approaching 40. I'm still dancing. I am dancing with gray hair and crows feet around my eyes. But the laugh lines around my mouth prove that I am still smiling.
I have aged, but more importantly I've matured. Becoming a mother has matured me. I will always prefer a night out in a dive bar over some kid's birthday party. I will never like PTA meetings and I've never tried to be the Pinterest mom. But I do find a simple joy playing monster trucks with my kids. On most Friday nights, you will find me doing just that.
While my child-free friends might say that I've changed or that I've become boring, I believe I have entered a new chapter of fun. Family days at the beach and hiking through the forest are now my definition of fun. You don't know what fun is until your kids discover red ants and jellyfish. It may not be drunken mayhem and foolishness, but it is fun nonetheless.
My husband might even say I've changed. He might tell you that I've turned from the hard-drinking bad girl to a responsible wife and mother. He might say that we have both learned to enjoy the small victories in life and marvel in the joys that being a parent brings. This change isn’t something to be ashamed of, it should be celebrated. I should never have to defend my transformation into motherhood.
Because – I still dance. I dance with much smaller versions of myself. I dance with gray hair and a C-section scar. But I am still dancing.
At almost 38, I'm still learning to find the balance between maturing and a new version of myself. I suspect I will be looking for that balance even after I turn 40. I'll keep finding the younger version of myself peeking out during parent/teacher conferences and fighting the older version of myself when it's getting too late to stay out. I'm learning to embrace both versions as I hit that milestone birthday.
I am still laughing the loudest at the party. I am still laughing with my children. I will always laugh.
But I might turn down that last beer and go home instead of the after party. I definitely won't be at the after, after party. But it's not because I'm boring or older. I want to enjoy the time I spend with my husband. Our days of lounging in bed until 3 in the afternoon are over. They were great days and I loved every second of it, but they are over. Our days start with two little boys jumping into our bed at 7:30 in the morning. In those moments, I am filled with happiness and love. I have bad breath and I'm in need of caffeine, but filled with happiness and love.
I start my day laughing. What could be boring about that? I am dancing in my kitchen. I am 38 and finally finding balance, laughing the day away.