Thirty-six. Most days I simply cannot believe that I am a grown woman, age 36. Yet apparently, I am the perfect age now. The Guardian's Observer Magazine proclaims 36 is the age of the "year-zero" face. The age women are spending tens of thousands of dollars to remain looking like forever, attempting to stop the hands of time with plastic surgery and botox.
I was intrigued as this morning I read a BlogHer article debating the issue.
At 36, I look in the mirror and I am relatively satisfied with what I see. Hours at the gym and a healthy diet have kept me somewhat fit and lean but cannot erase the slight sag still stretched across my lower belly or the few faint silver scars that remain as a testament that this body that has grown a child. The first signs of sun damage are appearing, freckles and stubborn age spots that refuse to fade. I've come to accept the deepening creases creeping from the corners of my eyes. I will try to slow their growth with drug store face creams, but no botox or plastic surgery for me.
But what if not only our bodies were frozen at age 36, but our entire lives?
At 36, I have the most amazing child I could have ever imagined. He grows more independent and self-sufficient each day yet he still needs me, my unconditional affection, support, and guidance. He is grown enough to be reading and riding a two-wheeler but is still lost in the magic of childhood fantasy and beliefs. He knows wars are real, but so is the Tooth Fairy. I may have yearned for more children in the past, but at 36, I know just one child, this child, is right for me.
At 36, I have found the love of my life and we will be celebrating 11 years of marriage this Spring. He is my best friend, my partner, my lover. I wouldn't change a thing.
At 36, I am not forced to slave away at a job I hate. I'm still not sure what career I will hold when I grow up, but I have the luxury of a little time to discover myself as I transition from "just a SAHM." I have time to read and write and think. My family is far from wealthy but we have enough to feel safe and pay our way.
At 36, I have a true home. It may not be grand, but a wave of calm and security washes over me each time I step inside. I can look at the wood floors, the shower tiles, the sun streaming onto the sunflower walls and feel a sense of pride that my sweat, my hands created this small haven.
At 36, I am grateful to still have my parents and family nearby. I've matured enough to respect their choices and I often look to them for their wisdom, support, and understanding. I've lost some loved ones over the last few years and I may not spend as much time with my extended family as I should, but I still cherish each moment I have with them.
At 36, I've stood in the ruins of the Colosseum, exchanged wedding vows in a 2,000 year old Roman monastery, and splashed through a flooded Venetian piazza. I've stood transfixed in the pre-dawn light watching lava crash down a volcano as the rainforest woke around me.
At 36, I have a good life.
But I don't want to stay frozen here forever. I will let my body age with pride, confidence, and grace. With my husband beside me, I will guide my child through times of joy and turbulence and watch him grow into the fine man he is meant to become. I have books to write, skills to develop, a career to grow, passions to discover. I still have many acts left to be written and performed in my life. I have an entire world to explore.
At 36, I still have so much to learn, experience, and feel.