I'm (almost) 39, though I don't feel 39. Well, okay, some days I do. But I don't really think I look 39. Well...um, yeah. But I definitely don't cart around any angst about turning 39. Mostly I feel gloriously liberated from all the crap that weighed me down in my twenties and early thirties. Like every second that ticks closer to the big 4-0 leaves me lighter, less burdened. It's not apathy. Not even close. It's freedom, it's perspective, it's acceptance.
Dare I say, it's wisdom.
I now carry with me (almost) 39 years of life experience and I'd like to think that allows me to stake at least a small claim on a little bit of wisdom. Not great aunt Stella wisdom and nothing even close to grandma/mom wisdom. But enough to move past the small stuff without getting too bogged down in all the unimportant details. And certainly enough to be honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses and, ultimately this past year, to let go of the life I hoped for so I can fully embrace the life I've been blessed with.
I know, heavy, right?
A few people know, and even more don't, that a little over a year ago Scott and I decided to go forth and multiply. Again. One last time. This wasn't a decision made on a whim, in fact, it involved everything but a PowerPoint presentation on my part to win Scott over on the matter. But ultimately we agreed and that was that.
Funny thing. Deciding in my brain (and in my heart) to have a baby did not mean a damn thing to my lady parts. Check that. It did not mean a damn thing to my geriatric lady parts. Because this is not a sweet and funny tongue-in-cheek blog post to announce the fertilization and implantation of yet another Missy & Scott creation. Nope. In fact, it's the exact opposite. It is my reproductive swan song. I am hanging up my ovaries, if you will, and getting out of the baby-making business for good.
And I am so relieved.
No, really. I am.
Now, I know that many of you out there have or know someone who has gotten pregnant at 38 and beyond. It's not that old. I know this. And honestly, according to the people who are on a first name basis with my reproductive organs, it's more likely than not to happen for me too, should I keep on keeping on. But I'm tired. People. I AM (almost) 39 YEARS OLD AND I AM TIRED. And for the first time since this journey began I am able to admit this: I do not want another baby. I'm done. That season of my life has passed and I am okay with it. Now.
But I feel old. For the first time, in, really, EVER, I feel old.
And kind of like a failure. (Go ahead - smack me).
But knowing that my body is not able to procreate with the ease and efficiency it once did makes me feel old. Everything still works just fine, technically speaking, just slower and with a little less oomph. And it would appear that that oomph is rather important here. And all of this is a natural process, as natural as, well, aging. It's "the nature of the beast" as my fabulous OB so plainly put it. Blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. Whatever. It completely sucks. And what's more, I, Melissa Shields, set out to do something and FAILED. This does not sit well with a dyed in the wool Type A over-achiever like myself.
*cough* control freak *cough*.
Soooo.....it's been a rough few months of hard choices and big decisions. But remember up at the top there? Wisdom. With wisdom comes perspective. And while these sorts of things are not necessarily easy to work through, once you are honest with yourself and you do work through them, you get to acceptance and man, that ROCKS! And this is what acceptance meant for me: as much as I wanted to add to our family a year ago, that desire waned with each month that passed. I got discouraged and frustrated. Elated then heart-broken. I was pregnant... until I wasn't. Life became a math and science experiment. I worked with a naturopath and an acupuncturist. I made myself crazy and all the while, unbeknownst to me, I was slowly but surely working my way toward this truth: I'm ready to be done. I don't want to start over. I fought this. I talked myself out of it. I never imagined that I would ever find myself ready to be done with babies. Oh, how I loved my babies. Loved that time with them. And as much as I struggled with that first year, transitioning from full time career to full time motherhood, it is what has defined my life for 7 years now and I wear it like a badge of honor. I am a mother of small children. Or rather, I was a mother of small children. Because something else happened during the time I spent trying to conceive: my "little" kids became "big" and I moved effortlessly from mother of small children to mother of school age children.
And I liked it.
Life got easier. There were no more diapers. No more naps. No more giant bag of everything lugged everywhere. They played independently (sort of). They didn't need me less, just differently. And for the first time ever it felt like we were all doing something together. It wasn't me schlepping them to play dates or parks or activities and watching them do their thing while I got my grown-up fix with other parents. We were doing things together and creating memories as a family. Not just pictures in a scrapbook, but actual memories. It was a revelation. And it made me realize that this - this memory making - is what I have been looking forward to. What I have been waiting for. I want to show my kids the world and I want to start now. And when I finally stopped staring at those pee sticks long enough to really take a look at my sweet little family, it dawned on me, clear as day - we are complete.
In my (almost) 39 years and counting I will inevitably find myself at other crossroads, when one life stage ends and another begins. It is a cycle that is as old as time itself and though usually hard won, brings with it experience and knowledge. And in my case, a rock star husband and the two most amazing little people I have ever known. But despite it's inevitability, change is hard. So, it's okay to be sad. It's okay to move on. It's okay to honor how hard my body has worked for 8 years and it's okay to take a break. It's okay to sit back and enjoy the ride for awhile. It's okay to want more and it's okay to say "enough". It's okay to hold my babies tight and it's okay to let them go.
If I've learned anything in these (almost) 39 years, it's this: Time is fleeting. There are no guarantees. Life will pass you by if you spend too much of it mucking around in the details. Babies grow at the speed of light but big kids bring their own special brand of joy and despite the fact that your brain tells you that you are still 22, you are decidedly NOT. Most importantly, don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Don't stop, it'll soon be here. It'll be here, better than before. Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.
P.S. That song is stuck in your head now, isn't it? You're welcome.