This week was my 39th birthday. Truth be told, Worst. Birthday. Ever. (think Simpson’s comic book store guy). I knew it was going to be rough, I just didn’t think it was going to be SO hard. Each voice mail, email or text that came in wishing me a happy, fun-filled day and wonderful year sent me into tears. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to think about my birthday or be reminded that I was supposed to be happy. I wanted to ignore the day.
I know that everyone means well, I just wish that they would stop and think about what they’re saying. Just like I said around our anniversary, there is nothing happy about right now. And while I understand that people wanted to acknowledge the day, for me, that should have been a simple, I’m thinking about you.
The thing is, every other year, I love my birthday. I love the attention, the cake and the celebrating. I’ve never been one of those people who worries about, or thought much about aging. Maybe it is because my birthday is on the late end of the spectrum, so by the time I turn another year older, I’ve already gone through it with my friends. I’ve never been one to pull back my skin, ponder elective surgeries or whine about the number of candles. Yet this year, I look in the mirror and see a tired, hardened, older woman. I see hallowed, puffy eyes, veiny hands, and lines and wrinkles. I see a woman I often don’t recognize. And I know that these are all factors that I don’t think would matter (or at least matter much) if I was where I knew I was supposed to be in life.
When I was graduating college, I had my life planned out. I wasn’t going to get married until 27 because I wanted time to myself and to establish my career. And then I’d have kids at 30 because I wanted my husband and I to be able to enjoy each other before welcoming our family. Well, suffice it to say, that didn’t happen. After all, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
The past couple of years have been about realizing expectations that were unmet. Expectations that should have been part of life’s natural progression. But I guess there is nothing natural about life. Without my knowing it, over these past five years, I’ve been forced to look at all of my expectations, and I’ve realized that pretty much nothing in my life has worked out as I thought it would. And the thing is, for the most part, that’s OK. For example, I never would have imagined that I would’ve met my husband online. But I did. I remember being at the happy hour where someone said, “I mean who DOESN’T have profile on J.Date.” Um, me. So onto the online scene I went. And for that, I’m forever grateful.
On some levels, it is OK, and actually a good thing that nothing I planned for worked out in the way I had planned, or if at all. Meeting Double A online is just one example of many times that things worked out for the better. But it’s a double edged sword—while I could definitely do without so much heartache and pain, there’s something to be said about the unknown. And through all of this unknown and changing expectations, here I am. Still standing, but desperately trying to find my way.
I’ve also been forced to reconsider my expectations on family. I’ve realized that just because adoption or parenting a child(ren) who isn’t genetically ours is never something as a kid or my younger self would have thought would happen or need, here I am, with that very possibility. That said, I still have a hard time giving up the expectation that I may ever be able to carry and deliver a healthy baby. But most likely, I will have to, as I just can’t imagine being in this position yet again.
Life IS what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Expectations will continue to change. I just hope that somewhere amidst those plans and changing expectations, that our family will come to light, even if the reality looks different from the picture drawn long ago.