Last week I turned 39. This year it didn't sneak up on me like it did last year, this year I was ready in advance. In the new year, I talked here about how my thirty eighth year had been challenging due to its quietness and since the new year I have been reflecting on this. I have been slowly making changes, slowly making plans and whilst much still hangs in the balance I am relieved to say that there isn't the same restlessness that I felt some months back. There are still darker days and uncertain moments and times when confidence falls from me like raindrops from leaves but I try harder all the time not to dwell on those emotions, I try to treat them as fleetingly as the raindrops falling from those leaves.
I still make mistakes. Forever mending and correcting, repairing and curing and healing. I often find myself biting my inner lip over and over again making the skin uneven. Before it has time to heal, both habit and nerves bring more biting and repetitions and the cycle goes on. It's that time you see. Forty. And although I have only just turned 39, she is just there in my peripheral vision. Forty is keeping a close eye on me. I remember when my eldest sister was about to turn forty and she expressed mixed feelings and I dismissively told her that forty was just another birthday, just another number. Ha! It feels different though, now it's me.
As a child, and sometimes as a teenager and sometimes even now as an adult, I feel like I'm playing catch up. Like I haven't realised that there is a race until all of a sudden I look up and I see a huge gathering of people racing towards a finish line. Everyone is there. Everyone except me. It's like one of those repetitive dreams that you get trapped inside of that must last seconds but feel like an eternity. In these moments, I know that the restlessness that I spoke of earlier is still in reach. In these moments I feel weary from standing alone. Always brave enough to be different, always behind, always wondering if it is sensible to be led so much by the heart and not the head.
This year for my thirty ninth year I quietened that part of me that still looks for approval, that part of me that needs to tick lots of boxes on an imaginary list of accomplishments, that part of me that seeks out all of the things that have been unattainable to me as opposed to all the things that I have experienced and cherished and learned. This year I really enjoyed the small things. The real things. The things that you're meant to enjoy that I often forget to be grateful for. I thought about how excited my boys were in the build up to my day and the kisses that they planted on me. I thought about a whole week-end of being able to choose where to go and what to do because they told me it was my special week-end. Of art galleries and free crispy creme donuts, of getting caught in a rain and a hail storm and running through the city centre and laughing aloud, of a curry interrupted by both children needing the toilet, then a water spill and needing to taste and share 'all' of the food and thinking that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but with my three. I think about my children's good health, my husband and that look that he gives me that means everything, my relationship with my mother and the day spent with her on my actual birthday and of her reminiscing about the day that I came into the world. Of parcels sent in the post by good and thoughtful friends, of a dear friend that bakes me a cake each year and makes me feel like a super hero, of being spoilt and feeling special, of knowing that it's all there and it's perfect. Of knowing that I just need to remember to open my eyes and really see it because it's staring me right in the face.