This summer, Will turns forty, which means, much to my surprise when I stop to think about it, that I'll be 38. I'm not really sure how that happened. I've spent so long being the young mom, hearing "oh, you're just a baby" at gatherings with other parents that I almost didn't realize that I have reached middle age.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset about it. I've never feared the next big birthday. I didn't worry about turnign 30 (gosh, that was a long time ago) and I don't feel like I will in two years when I turn forty. I don't mourn my youth, probably because I never was very good at being the 20-something wild child that some of my friends had perfected. I didn't like bars and parties and bare midriffs. I never went clubbing. Instead I stayed home and painted rooms or installed new faucets or worked on some craft. Or read. So I pretty much did then what I'm doing now. Although I will say that I could fit a whole lot more remodeling in back then. All that youthful energy that most people spent on partying instead went to pulling all-nighters with a grout trowel re-tiling bathrooms.
So I don't wish I was young again, but I'm surprised to find myself older. Some friends had dinner with us last weekend and brought their two toddlers, and I watched them walk around and around the yard after one or try to continue having a conversation while changing the diaper of the other and it seemed like so long ago that I was doing that. It WAS so long ago. My kids were happily entertaining themselves, one at a park four blocks away, playing basketball with his friends, and I could sit and sip a glass of wine and not worry about someone tripping on uneven concrete and dissolving into tears. I mean, that can still happen, but it's a whole different kettle of fish with a 12 year old than a 2 year old. There's no Thomas the Tank Engine band-aids involved, for example. And again, I'm not sure when that happened. When we stopped having little kids and started having big kids. It happened so fast. What is it they say? The days are long but the years are short? I used to hate it when people said things like that. Things like "It goes so fast!" or "Enjoy it while you can!" because it made me feel like there was something I didn't know, some way that I didn't really understand parenting. But now I realize those people were like me now. Slightly stunned at the fact that that part of their life had long since passed and that it was only in those moments, seeing what you're not doing anymore, that you realize how long it's been.
I loved having little kids. But I love having big kids too. In fact, I think I love it more. Some crazy part of my younger self wanted to have all my kids before I was thirty, because I had this idea that being younger with older kids would be better for us. And thank goodness I did because that crazy part of myself was right. Maybe not right for other people. But for us, it was a good choice, even if a slightly insane one at the time. And I suppose having kids whenever would have been great for us too. I guess what I'm saying is, now is good. Right now it's good to be almost 40. It's good to have kids who can empty the dishwasher (with only a little poking and prodding) and go to the bathroom without help and watch movies with that don't involve creepy trains with faces. It's good to be getting older, even if I'm discovering that, like my dad, I can predict the weather by my aches and pains and I can't drink coffee after lunch time without spending a wakeful night staring up at the ceiling and counting the hours before I have to be up for work. Now is good. Flying by too fast, just as it always has and always will, but good. I'll enjoy it while I can and hope that the next "now" will be just a nice.