I have been a mother for most of my adult life.
Well, technically 17, since we have to count from the moment I knew I was going to be one.
So, 17 years.
Almost half of my life.
It is the single most important role I have ever played –the one I cherish the most, the one I’m the most proud of, and the one I’m the most dedicated to.
In many ways, being a mother is just a part of who I am.
Because most days, mothering my children takes up the majority of my time.
Years ago, when I was home nursing a baby, helping a toddler to the bathroom, and packing lunch for a kindergartener, I longed for the days, heck, the moments, when someone wasn’t needily clinging to me for something –food, water, diapering, affection, something.
There was always a little face looking to me to provide them with everything they needed to function. I mean, when you think about it, their very ability to live depended on me providing them with what they needed to do so. There was no them without me.
As they’ve gotten older, this seems to have morphed into something else entirely where there is no me without them.
They’re still pretty darn needy and though my days are not always filled with their presence, I’m still required to meet many of their needs –a role I am entirely okay with.
But, as graduation day looms for my 16 year old, and high school is just on the horizon for my other two, I am beginning to feel the pangs of my approaching empty nester life.
For some, this would be thrilling.
For me, it feels scary and confusing and boring and lonely.
Because I’ve loved the way my children have filled the spaces of my life so fully. I love that they have transformed me and grown me and built me up.
I am a better me with them –a fuller me, a happier me, a more fun and adventurous me with them.
Which is somewhat of a problematic way to live, because for most of us, our time with our children as the most time consuming parts of our day, are finite. There will come a day when you don’t do things for them on a daily basis, when you don’t even see them on a daily basis. You will be on the outskirts of their lives when other people begin to fillin where you used to fit. Which means you still need to be a you without a them.
You’re supposed to take time for you, to not lose yourself, to maintain a sense of self and independence that doesn’t involve your kids.
In some ways I feel like I do have that –I own two businesses (a photography business and a digital marketing firm), I enjoy going to the gym, I like to travel, I have a home to decorate, I have grown up friends.
But I’m honest enough to admit that even most of my “me things” are secretly “them things” –I work so hard so I can give them things and experiences they need and want. I like traveling with them. I’m most excited about decorating their rooms. And, most of my grown up friends are their friends’ parents.
The only thing I truly do for myself (other than trips to the nail salon), is go to the gym, and you see how much I make time for that most days.
Contrary to what I look like, this week I will celebrate my 40th birthday.
I’ve been feeling some type of way about it for the past few weeks, and while I’m still not committed to what those emotions exactly are, I do know that I feel an urgency to be more me these days. I’m eager to find things in my life that fill me up in ways my children do. Not that any hobby or business or experience will ever be as important or fulfilling as my Dudes, but I want to try to find things that will keep me from aggressively stalking their adult lives when they all depart my home for their own grown up adventures one day.
While I am severely behind in this endeavor, I am eagerly taking baby steps and, as a show of good faith to myself, I’ve decided to share 40 things about me on my 40th birthday that have absolutely NOTHING to do with my kids.
Let’s see if I can do it.
40 at 40: 40 Things to Know About Me On My 40th Birthday
I can’t swim.
Not well anyway. Enough to make it across the pool if necessary, but not enough to save myself in the open water.
Which is why I don’t touch wild water.
No lakes or ponds or anything like that. I will get in the ocean, but usually only wading distance and usually only when I’m on an island or other location wherein staying on the beach would cause me to overheat dramatically.
I love to travel.
And there are so many places I still want to visit: Greece, Fiji, Belize, London, the Grand Canyon. I have a list I hope to start crossing things off of when my kids are off doing their own things.
I call my mom about 4 times a day.
To tell her stuff. Because she’s my friend.
And I’ve been friends with my best girlfriend for most of my life.
We met when I was 13 and have been BFFing it ever since.
I’ve owned three homes.
And I never plan to ever move again.
I want to write a book.
I just never have time to do it.
I love Eminem.
Like looooooooove him. Like almost paid a ridiculous amount of money to buy tickets to a festival he’s going to be at so I could sleep outside for a couple of nights surrounded by other festival goers in order to see him. You know I don’t do sleeping outside, or waiting, or other people. But, for him it was almost worth it.
I’m trying to lose weight.
Because I am unhappy with my body.
I have a Master’s degree in education.
But I don’t want to go back to the classroom. Not yet anyway, but maybe one day.
I love my job.
It’s creative and I have a lot of autonomy because I’m self employed.
But, if I won the lotto I’d never work again.
I’d still be involved in a lot fo things in my community though.
I am a chronic volunteer.
I’ve been on the board of two PTA’s, I am on the board of a sports organization, I’m a team mom, a team manager, and a stats girl for the basketball team. I’ve volunteered at the food pantry and at the Boys and Girls Club.
I love movies.
And romance novels.
Like the super steamy kind.
I’m also a huge fan of vampire movies and TV shows.
Twilight, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, I love them all.
I used to want to be a dancer.
Which explains all of my kitchen dance parties.
I also wanted to become a pharmacist.
But, I don’t sell drugs from my kitchen.
I eat ice cream every single day.
A single scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough –it’s my current favorite.
I love shoes.
I also love dresses.
Which is why I wear them nearly every day and have since I was a little girl (barring a short period in the early 90s when I dressed like Kriss Kross).
I am horribly afraid of spiders.
And dramatically afraid of snakes.
I like the concession stand more than anything happening on the court or field when I go to a professional sports game.
Hot dogs, nachos, soft pretzels -I order all of that!
I have kidney disease.
It’s mostly asymptomatic, but it’s there and I know it.
I don’t really drink alcohol.
Meaning, sure I will have a shot at a New Year’s Eve party, and I can count on one hand the number of alcoholic beverages I’ve had in the last year. I’m not someone who enjoys alcohol unless I’m at a party so I’ve never just cracked open a beer to enjoy it or poured myself a glass of wine after dinner.
Because I also hate wine.
I know, weird.
Even more weird: I also don’t drink coffee!
Totally not sure how I survive.
I wake up every morning without an alarm.
I set it every night anyway even though I haven’t overslept in years.
I cook tacos every single week for dinner.
Partly because I love them, partly because they’re easy.
I hate cooking.
But, I LOVE baking.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes: Salty and Sweet Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
My favorite color is lavender.
And I don’t own a single piece of lavender clothing.
The primary color in my wardrobe currently is black.
I can rap 2Pac’s, “I Get Around” start to finish.
And I make it a point to do it at least once a week in my car.
I’ve been on two reality TV shows.
I’ve also been on Dr. Oz.
Russell Simmons taught me how to meditate. You can read about it here: The Dr. Oz Thing
I don’t like donuts.
This is the hardest post I’ve ever written.
I never talk this much about myself at once. Ever. But, I guess since it’s my birthday…