So, it’s here. After all the waiting to turn 50 this year, my birthday is officially today, Dec. 26.
As I write this column, I’m filled with a mixture of emotions on looking back over the last decade, let alone the last year. When I was 39, I was a different Maria. I started out that year making superficial fun at turning “the big 4-0.” Then I lost a child midway into the year, and realized with sobering honesty how truly inconsequential it was that I was even turning 40.
Fast forward to turning 50. After a decade of tremendous challenge to sort out life after losing a child, this birthday didn’t feel as much about reaching a milestone as turning another corner on a journey.
A birthday is just that; it’s a day. It will come and go, whether we’re ready for it or not, whether we have a fresh manicure, a decent haircut, have worked out regularly, or gone on a girl’s-getaway weekend. To me, reflecting on a day like this now includes taking a good hard look at life.
How are my relationships? Do I feel present for others? Did I put effort into the right priorities? Am I still curious and learning about my world?
I stand here today a wiser, deeper Maria, knowing that there’s a vast difference between life and living. Life and birthdays and happy events and tragedies happen, whether we ask them to or not. How I live and face them is up to me.
When I turned 49, I thought about what I’d like to look back at one year later. I prayed that I’d have a solid year, one of positivity, and connected with those I care about. And it has been. Did I face sadness? Sure. I lost a few extremely important loved ones in my life this year. Did I face stresses? We all do.
So, thank you, 50th birthday. And thank you for the lessons this decade has taught me. I’m grateful to look back on the growth I’ve achieved and look forward to continued strength and perspective to face tomorrow and the next ten years.
I have one more thought I’d like to share with you, dear readers. These past few months, I have spent much time reflecting on the eight-and-a-half years I’ve written this precious column. I have thoroughly enjoyed journeying through 21st century parenting with you, knowing you fully understood each corner we turned, each milestone in motherhood.
Thank you for laughing with me, crying with me, and being there to greet me on this page, in an email, in the grocery store, at the bank, around town. Wherever we met up to talk “column,” I felt your support for my writing, and to say I appreciated every gesture is truly an understatement.
I have made a thoughtful decision to take a break from being your “21st Century Mom” columnist, and explore some other writing for a bit. When I think about my first column in July of 2005, I never imagined that I’d be here today, still welcomed by you, still feeling such awe for the opportunity I’d be given so long ago. Thank you.
Let’s continue to chat at the grocery store. I want our friendships to last beyond this page.
Maria Malin can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org