Monday, September 13, 2010

Whoever said birthdays were all candles and party hats never dared enter my head

Today is my birthday. I'm 38 years old.

Let me start by saying, 38 is not old. I don't feel old, though my knees might think differently, and compared to the lifespan of the average American woman, I'm in the prime of my life. But I can't help but compare myself, and where I am in my life right now, to where my mother was at this age.

My mother was a child when she got married, she was barely nineteen and less than a month after her 20th birthday she had me. Which means, when my mother was my age, she had an 18 year old daughter entering college. Therefore, adding it all up and carrying the one, I am old enough to have a child in college. But fast forward twenty years and I have a daughter entering kindergarten. My mind, it is significantly boggled.

I don't know how to process this. It has less to do with the biological possibility of having a child old enough to be considered a legal adult and more to do with grappling with my feelings about my mom and the way she and my father raised me compared to how I'm raising my children.

My parents were so young and naive and without modern conveniences like the internet to help them with their parenting choices (there is some sarcasm in that last part). For better or worse, they relied heavily on their families, specifically their parents from a far more removed generation, to lend guidance and share wisdom.

I don't agree with most of what they did, but here I am today - the first of my family to attend and graduate college. I've never been arrested and have never mixed up in drugs or criminal activity. Whether it was nature or nurture, and regardless of the negative things which I really don't feel like getting into, something went right.

My husband and I have years and experiences my parents didn't have. We have the education and the income they only dreamed of. Time will tell if the outcome is any better but I know what I'll be wishing for when I blow out the candles on my cake.


Issa said...

Happy birthday friend. I really hope it's a great one, filled with good wine and tons of Nutella.

I think that each generation hopes to do better than the one before. Every day I hope for that. I look at my kids though and even though I know I've messed up some, I think, they are good people.

SciFi Dad said...

Happy Birthday, and don't worry about your shortcomings: you're only 38, there's still plenty of time for being arrested and serving jail time.

Lara said...

Happy birthday to you, Chicky! Hope at some point you get out of your own head long enough to have fun and enjoy yourself. :)

Tania said...

Cupcakes and bacon this year?

Cate said...

Happy Birthday!

as for parents and previous generations, I like this poem:

even though it's a little dark.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Happy Birthday my friend. Even though I am your elder, by (gulp) 5 years, I still like you an awful lot. And, yeah, I was 16 at my mom's 40th birthday---kind of crazy but I'm so, so, so glad I waited to have kids even though I'm going to be old and creaky when / if grandchildren ever appear.

Major Bedhead said...

I'm a little late to the party but I hope your birthday was awesomeness dunked in Nutella.

I'm *gasp* 43. I have a 22 year old son and an 8 month old granddaughter as well as a 16 year old, a 5 year old and a 4 year old. My brain can't handle that. At all.

Draft Queen said...

A very belated birthday to you!

I think about what my mom did at my age as well. At 30, my mom had 3 biological children, 3 step children and a baby on the way.

My mother was clearly a masochist. Or a saint. I just don't know.

(I will never be old enough to parent 7 children. Ever. The thought of a third scares me.)

TwoBusy said...

I think lack of internet is why our parents did it all wrong. Also, in some cases, lack of microwave ovens and cable TV.

Thank you, technology, for making us the awesome parental types we are today!

Also: happy birthday two weeks ago.

Suhana Ansari said...
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