Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Half Birthday!

Half birthdays. Some people celebrate them, some people don't even realize it's come and gone. I usually acknowledge them and if conditions are ripe, I'll do a tiny little celebration.

After all, why not? Each day is special. You ever ask a little kid how old he or she is? If she's past the halfway mark, you're sure to know it. Six and a half, she'll count out on her fingers.

For me, my half birthday today marks the exact halfway point not just through my 25th year, but my entire 20's. It's a slightly sobering thought. No longer am I a young, early-twenty-something. Times of care-free behavior read: bullshitting suddenly become inexcusable. By now, I should be finished with school, well on my way to getting married, and thinking about starting a family at some point in the near future.

After all, my peers are getting engaged and popping babies out left and right. I can barely check my Facebook newsfeed without getting yet another announcement in the form of a bedazzled left ring finger or some girl baring her bulging belly to the world. 

As women, we are in our prime. Strong, healthy, and mentally able to handle a tiny individual helplessly depending on us for the next 18 years rest of their life. I guess that's why this half birthday has a bit of a cloud over it. 

I am not one of these girls with a ring on my finger or a baby in my belly. I don't have a degree on my wall yet and I plan to go back and finish up this fall. A recent conversation made me realize by the time I do have a degree, I'll be nearly 30. I can only picture the next few years as a barren expanse of homework, exams, and grades with no fun, no travel, no excitement.

I know that's not true. There'll be fun and travel and excitement. But even just thinking about all the work it'll take it fit that stuff in a heavily committed schedule between school, my teaching schedule, and work hours makes me want to break out in hives. I sooner sacrifice one of those than the opportunity to explore the world. 

I don't feel old. That's not the case at all. But I do an urgent sense of time rushing by too quickly. I'm terrified of waking up and realizing that I've wasted even more time. But the idea of having a family right now leaves me in a cold sweat.

My life is just beginning. It barely got out of the gate, I feel. How the heck am I supposed to handle another life to care for? That's the most frustrating part. As a woman, I do have a finite amount of time before I miss the gate for childbearing. If I'm not ready at that societal-labeled "prime time" for having kids, by the time I am ready, I risk facing a multitude of health issues for myself and my baby. It's not a great feeling to carry around. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't spend every day or every minute thinking, "Oh god, there goes another egg!" But sometimes, a moment will hit and I start thinking about all this stuff, wondering what I should be doing. I'm happy with the way things are, I'm happy with continuing to learn about myself and build my life. If I had my way, I'd be 40 when I have my first kid and I'll be youthful and spry all the way up to when my kids have their own kids… at age 40 as well.

Alas, we can't always have what we want. But we can accept the way things are now. My life is turning out pretty good. I'm in great health. I'm in love. I have a roof over my head and food and chocolate in my belly. So happy half birthday to me!