Last night I was lying in bed scrolling through my phone when I came across this.
Unfortunate timing, since I had approximately 2.5 hours left of being 34. I figured I should take stock of my current sexiness, seeing as how it was soon going to vanish like Cinderella’s flaky Godmother (why only give her until midnight? If you’ve got the power to make her life better just do it forever. Geez).
So here is a word picture of what sexy looks like at 34. Mismatched pajamas that smelled vaguely like sour milk from my mismatched nursing boobs, a TMJ mouth guard so I don’t grind my teeth into oblivion, and the one-eye phone squint of someone who is in bed at 9pm but not quite ready to put down the electronics.
Let’s just say that if I had been included in that study that I would have been an outlier. It’s okay, this year has been rough and my relative sexiness has not really been on my mind. I started my year of 34 sitting in the hospital next to Rowan, my abdomen being held together by various surgical flotsam and jetsam. My breasts were achy and prone to spontaneous eruption. Between the tears and milk and blood the word that could best describe my birthday last year would be leaky.
Hospitals bookended this trip around the sun, as I spent most of yesterday in the emergency vet hospital with my 18 year old cat, Squirt. I know I’ve mentioned my love for symmetry a million times, but this was not quite what I meant; starting the year in a hospital overseeing the start of a life, and ending it in a hospital thinking about the end. He’s still with us for now — we’re throwing medical spaghetti, in the form of steroids, at the wall and hoping it sticks. But his back legs have turned against him. They hold him up when he stands, but when he tries to walk he loses his sense of where they are in space, stumbling sideways before they give out entirely. If the steroids don’t work the other options are not overly viable for a cat of his age. But today I’m grateful to still have him. He doesn’t seem to be in pain, and he still loves to have his head scratched. He’s still Squirt. By the time we left the hospital yesterday the staff were all completely enamoured by him, as per the usual.
The time between those bookends has been full. Full of struggle and full of win. There were days when I was not sure how I would survive the hurricane in my head, when I doubted my ability to make it until bedtime. Breast pumps, nightmares, tears and no tears. Other days saw Rowan thrive and grow, saw Lorelei go to kindergarten.
And there is this, what I’m doing right now, writing words that strangers might read. I’ve had blogs since the days of MySpace, and had a website with my writing as far back as college. I have notebooks full of crappy college poetry and scribbles of adolescent journaling. There are actual tear-stained pages, y’all. Pages written while draped over “my” rock in the middle of the stream in the UNCA botanical gardens, written with a sense of drama that could only come from the pen of a kid with a limited experience of heartbreak. A kid who never took a single writing class in college [ETA: That’s not true, I guess. I took lots of journalism classes, but no creative writing], despite her short-lived stint as a literature major, because at the age of eight she had taken criticism to heart and convinced herself that she was no good.
Part of me will always be convinced of that, but yet somehow I’ve had a pretty good year as far as writing goes. Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, among many others. People have paid me money to write things. Today Show Parents shared one of my pieces on their Facebook page. Almost 100,000 people have shared, liked, or commented on my thoughts, which is both intensely terrifying, and uncomfortably gratifying. I’ve somehow managed to find almost 1,700 people who thought I was funny/relatable/interesting/real enough to stick around my Facebook page to see what I have to say. I’ve shared essays about everything from mental health to the size of my Mt. Laundry, from my premature son to parenting fails.
It’s been a big year.
So here’s to the next 35.
“I’m so glad that you finally made it here
With the things you know now, that only time could tell
Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are
And oh, you’re aging, oh and I am aging oh, aren’t we aging well?” – Dar Williams