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The Age Factor

I turned 38 on Sunday. Wah, wah, wah.

Surprisingly? There’s something remarkably comforting about falling squarely in my late 30s. I feel older, that’s for sure. Wiser. More experienced. (Very tired.) But I can legitimately say, I’ve been there, done that—a few times over. I know I have a lot to be proud of—I’ve accomplished a lot, but I’m hardly done yet.

For years my dad told people he was 38—at 40, 45, 50, 55. He stayed 38; while everyone else got older around him. I was nine when he was 38. My older brother was 13. When Preston’s nine, I’ll be 45. When he’s 13, and getting bar mitzvahed, I’ll be 50.

I can’t help but think about how age plays a role in everything now. Unfortunately age plays a big role in fertility—it is what it is, I’m not dwelling on it, but it is a fact of life that I’m not getting any younger (and neither are my eggs).

I used to make a big deal about birthdays, wanting everything to be just perfect. It’s a great way to set yourself up for a major disappointment. This year, not only did I not have any expectations for my birthday, I barely even thought about it. It came and went like any other day… I was happy to spend the morning with my husband, who’s been recovering from back surgery and staying with family. Preston and I had lunch with Jay and our cousins on Sunday, and then spent the rest of the day at home, just the two of us. He made me a pretend birthday dinner, and sang “Happy birfday to Mommy.” We watched Despicable Me for the 15th time, and played catch in the house.

I’ve been utterly exhausted lately, between starting a new job and working 12 hours a day, then running home to take care of my little man, and seeing my big man through his back surgery last week (and the painful weeks and months that led up to it). The last two weeks have been a total blur for me. Did I mention I had the same back surgery six years ago? Yup, we’re a great pair. My husband usually does most of the heavy lifting around the house because of that. It’ll be weeks, if not longer, before he’ll be able to lift Preston again—so it’s all on me for a while, as I type this while laying on an ice pack. Unfortunately back problems never really go away. That’s why I worry about him doing something that’ll hurt his back again; he needs to be the strong one in this family, so I will do whatever I have to; whatever it takes to help him get through this unscathed—because that’s what he’d do for me.

The timing of everything could be better but, the upside is, I’ve gotten more one-on-one time with Preston lately, which has been very special. He’s at such a fun age, and he’s back in his Mommy stage, hugging me all the time, and planting wet kisses on my cheek all weekend, saying, “I love you, mom. I love you so much!”

He looks at me differently now. He sees me. He was looking at the freckle on my face the other day, and said, “Mommy has a boo-boo.” I corrected him. “Preston, that’s a freckle on Mommy’s face. See, you have a freckle on your arm too. Every time you look at your freckle I want you to smile because Mommy’s thinking about you.” He loved that. We have full conversations now. We connect on an entirely different level.

He repeats everything. When he cooked me “dinner” (chicken nuggets and fries), he delivered it with: “You’ll like it, Mommy, I promife.” Because that’s what I always say to him. I wish I could bottle his personality up.

My birthday was very ordinary this year but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. When I turn 40 we’ll celebrate. Maybe things will have calmed down by then. But knowing us? I doubt it.

How do you feel about birthdays? If you got to stay one age for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? I’d be 35; that's when I had Preston. Things were a lot less complicated.

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