Anyone who knows me, knows that I *LOVE* my birthday. Since I can remember, I have always looked forward to it, counting down the days, oh, about 6 months ahead of time.
When I was little, it was probably because of the presents. And the fact that I could choose anything I wanted for dinner.
But as I get older, it is more about enjoying a day that celebrates my life. One day out of the year, I truly feel special. I love opening birthday greetings, knowing that someone thought I was special enough to deserve a real handwritten card, in this age of email and text messaging.
Since we live so far away from family and friends, this year was extra special because I had a party. My mom, sister, and future brother-in-law traveled here for it, and my closest friends came too. All of my favorite people were with me to help ring out the twenties and ring in the big “3-0.”
Everyone who was there that day has accepted my decision not to have children – even my closest friend who now has a one-year-old of her own! No one even brings it up anymore. It is sort of a non-issue these days. The ones who still harass me about it are generally not those I invite to intimate gatherings like this – like many of my co-workers (all MALE, by the way), who just don’t get it.
My husband is 18 months older than me, and he had a really hard time turning 30. I think he expected that I would too. But I took it in stride.
Since I am, ahem, vertically challenged, and have my mother’s youthful looks, I am constantly mistaken for a teenager. I remember going to Easter brunch when I was 22 years old and the waitress handed me the children’s menu – for kids under 13! (My grandfather, who has since passed away, was irked that I told them my real age, since they could’ve paid half-price for me!)
In a weird way, I guess I looked forward to becoming 30. Of course, I still look the same, only now I get “Oh, I can’t believe you’re 30!” instead of “Oh, I can’t believe you’re 29!”
I did approach 30 differently than other birthdays. This one was more significant, but not because I feel “old” now. It’s sort of a flag that goes up that says, “You Are Now an Adult.” I guess I am glad to reach this milestone, and feel “grown up,” despite the fact that many people think adulthood and parenthood go hand in hand.
Since I turned 30, I do find myself acting a little differently, with more confidence, perhaps? Things that I used to be nervous to do are no longer a challenge for me – like driving and public speaking, for example.
But more importantly, I am confident in the decisions I have made in my life. I know I haven’t met the last person who will rudely ask me why I don’t have any kids. But as I get older, I know that I will hear that less and less, as pregnancy becomes a more remote possibility for “someone my age.”
I have yet to regret my decision. I doubt I ever will. I enjoy the life that I have. I don’t have a very long list of “things I should have done by now.” I found my soul mate and will celebrate 5 wonderful years this September. I chose the right career for me, and while I don’t make much money, I love going to work every day. I have had opportunities I never thought would be possible for someone my age.
About the only significant thing I still have on my “Life To Do List” is to own my own home. For now, student loans and credit card debt have taken control of that goal. But one of these days, I’ll wrestle it back and check that one off too.
I guess what I am trying to say is this: If you are comfortable with who you are and the choices you’ve made in life, then what difference does it make how old you are?
And for those of you who are still struggling with justifying your child free life, stop trying. If you like your life the way it is, what does it matter what other people think of you?
It is your life to live. Remember that.