Tomorrow I turn 43. Ordinarily I’m not one to broadcast my birthday like this but on the eve of tearing the wrapping off the chic new polka dot blouse that will epitomise my 44th year, I felt some words on getting older were in order.
Forty two has been quite the year. It’s fair to say I’ve loved almost every minute of it.
It was the year I committed to being a writer and truly honouring it in my life for the first time. It was the year I finally started this blog that I’ve annoyed myself talking about for the past six years. It was the year I began to see beyond the toddler fog (forget the babies, the T-Fog – it’s an actual thing) to new possibilities.
Without question, I have loved being 42. Not only because of the wonderful things that have happened; I have loved being 42 because I love getting older.
I love that I’m still here, which in itself is remarkable.
I love that I am reasonably fit and healthy, that I can run and play with my kids, that I can get excited about beach camping this summer and teaching my kids how to surf, that I can use my brain and be creative and make stuff, and most of all that I am loved so fiercely and accepted so completely by a bunch of really awesome people, including some I even made myself.
There is so much bullshit out there about getting older, so much time and energy wasted on the futility of pushing back against it, the abject horror and pearl clutching at the merest suggestion of a wrinkle or a line. Especially for women.
I refuse to buy into that shit.
I love my face now more than ever. It tells a story of its own. The scar above my right eye where I somersaulted my motorbike in Thailand the day before my 34th birthday – the day my sunglasses and my forehead became one and I was gifted an impromptu birthday present of nine stitches in my face.
My crooked nose from when I tripped over my own pyjama pants (flares were a bad choice) and slammed face first into the floorboards trying to do a Fireman Sam and ‘save the family’ in the pitch dark after our smoke alarm malfunctioned at three am and went completely off its tits.
The gap in my front teeth that always reminds me of my late Grandma, who insisted it foretold I would marry a rich man/have eternal good luck/be a fast runner (confusing, Grandma, just pick one).
My inexplicable Slavic look, which cannot be accounted for in my family’s Welsh genealogy and yet has completely fooled countless Polish nationals both in Europe and Australia (someone, somewhere, knows the truth).
My body, it must be said, has been an absolute champion. Not only has it brought me thus far relatively intact (minus a few minor organs), it has survived falling into the deep end of a holiday swimming pool at the age of three, a second storey plunge off the top of a ladder at the age of eight, being thrown countless times from various horses, including being dragged by one and trampled by another, resulting in temporary paralysis down one side.
My body has survived recreational drugs and too much alcohol and almost a week without sleep. It has survived excessive dancing, body piercings and flaming Sambuca shots, and overcome a chronic autoimmune disease.
My body has brought three beautiful babies into the world in an impressive variety of ways, from the sirens-blaring emergency caesarian, to the zen-like hypno water birth and the lovely intimate hanging-off-the-end-of-a-bed-and-whinnying-like-a-horse-in-a-room-full-of-people birth (those childhood years devoted to playing ‘Horses’ really paid off that day in spades).
She’s not the body I had in my twenties, a body I barely gave a thought to as long it kept up with the cracking pace I set, that could consume an entire Chinta Ria curry laksa in one sitting without a second thought.
There’s some extra padding and a few more scars now but she still does the job like a trooper, she still gets up through the night to crying children, she can still run five kms at a shove and scale cemetery walls in a dress and heels (the only thing I don’t do these days is the trampoline – see number of children above). She’s going all right.
So in light of the aching loss and pain reverberating around the world right now, and in honour of all those who no longer have the choice, I choose to celebrate the luck and privilege of getting older, of chalking up another magnificent year. I choose not to take this life of mine for granted. I choose to love and embrace every line, every scar, every crooked bit. For the alternative is unthinkable.
So here’s to another big, beautiful year older. How lucky am I.
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