My birthday is Sunday and, for the first time in my life, I’m dreading it. Normally, there is a fevered excitement in the weeks leading up to the time that celebrate the joyous day I entered this world. I almost drool thinking of the fancy dinners and piles of presents and the throngs of well-wishers and admirers that await me. I dream of the perfect piece of cake – not too big, not too small, just enough icing to sweeten the piece but not so much it makes you gag. Or cheesecake, that would extra nice…ohh cheesecake.
Did you know that The Cheesecake Factory makes like 80 different cheesecakes and each of them are equally like taking all of your clothes off and jumping into heaven? And in this heaven, instead of clouds, there are mountains and mountains of freshly made whipped cream. And the angels are there to serve you platters of more delicious cheesecake. And none of it goes to your hips but instead straight to your boobs, where it really counts.
(mouth watering)…cheesecake…Huh? Oh. Point, right. I’m on it.
This year the happy occasion has sadly become a forethought, lost in the shuffle of a hectic work schedule, a looming deadline and the overwhelming everydays for which there is never enough time. Also, this year, making its debut performance, is the silent dread lurking in my gut as my head ponders the thought of ticking off one more year.
What upsets me, though, is not the number but my obvious lack of life milestones. I can’t help but think of all I haven’t accomplished in my near 26 years of life. When my mother was my age, she was five years married and the proud parent of one beautiful, baby me. Not only that (and as much as I hate to think about it), she and my father were well on their way to baby #2.
I, on the other hand, don’t have any of that – not the marriage, not the babies, nothing – but I want it all so bad I can taste it. This birthday seems to have started some 24-style countdown to the moment when the bomb will explode and suddenly I’ll have 50 cats and frumpy shoes and it will be too late. I will be old.
I have set all of these expectations and timelines for myself and I feel like I’m just not cutting it. There is all of this PRESSURE to achieve and so much of it comes from me so that this pressure, it’s inescapable. In my head, there is a deadline for attaining these things because there will come a time when I physically CANNOT have a baby. (Ridiculously, I feel like that time is pending, looming, like I’ll reach it in the next 5 years.)
I have created this mental deadline because I don’t want to be an old mom but I also don’t want to rush into having children right after marriage. I want to have time with my husband alone. I want the time to linger in bed on Saturday morning, take long weekends and road trips and get lots and lots of hot, married action. And so the longer I wait to get married, the longer I wait to have kids. And the longer I wait to have kids…well, you know how that story goes. I’m happy for the woman who birthed twins at 60 but it’s not what I want for MY life.
So the pressure builds and builds and builds until…Ahhhhhhh, I explode.
Some women tell me they want what I’m so desperate to trade in. They tell me one day, after I’ve finally achieved what I was hoping for and I’m bogged down by a life with a husband and babies, I’ll look back and long for the days when I was young and free and my boobs were perky and my jeans were small. They say live it up while you can, chase that rabbit up the corporate ladder, take some “me” time, be selfish and really explore yourself.
To those women, I politely say please stop talking. Please just let my heart want what it wants and allow me the freedom to express it. Sometime ago, you were in my shoes. Please remember what it felt like to walk around in them.
And so here I am, on my birthday eve eve, mixed with equal parts anticipation and anxiety and totally wishing the day were just here already. Because even though I may dread adding one more candle to the pile, I know that underneath all that melty wax is a cake. And we all know how I feel about cake.