Forty-Second Birthday



My birthday is on Friday.  On Monday, a friend asked how old I would be and I easily replied, “42.”  Now, this is an extremely odd response for me.  The kind of response I haven’t given for years and years.  I actually felt really proud of myself that the answer was so simple and came so easily.

Somewhere in my 30’s, I started to feel put on the spot by this question.  I hemmed and hawed about the answer, or sidestepped the question or (I hate to admit) lied.  When I did answer, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from adding all sorts of extra information about what I would have/should have/wanted to do.  Excuses really.  Sometimes the questioner was interested and supportive, and sometimes just I found myself even more embarrassed about having gone on and on.

I felt “unfinished”.  Like I should have more to show for the age on my face and the changes in my body.  Like I needed to justify the use of my time all these years.  As a child, all the stages on the way to adulthood are pretty clearly laid out in front of you, and you feel a sense of accomplishment -- and others acknowledge your accomplishment -- when you reach each one.  But what about adulthood?  It’s not as clear what you should be achieving, especially for a stay-at-home mom.  Even if you are living a very happy life (like I am), you still feel the need for that acknowledgement that can be so lacking in an adult life. 

Anyway, between 30-ish and Monday afternoon, I have learned that being “unfinished” is right where I want to be.  In fact, I never want to be finished.  I always want there to be a long list of things I want to do, goals I plan to reach for.  I have learned to be as proud of my potential as I am of my accomplishments.  Happy Birthday to me!

Phaedra Putnam

July 2010

Lori Bisser