My Sunday Sanctuary: 21 Again

I just finished celebrating my—gulp—42nd birthday.

My husband Donnie called it the “21st anniversary of my 21st birthday.” I had to laugh at that!

It was a nice day, minus poor Jonah falling and busting open his lip. (Poor kiddo—but raising his brothers taught me it’s just the first of many such incidents.) I got to sleep in, way late, then Donnie made orange danish rolls for brunch. I relaxed at home, took my time getting ready, then my folks watched the kids while Donnie and I went on a dinner date. The steakhouse we first tried to go to was too crowded, so we went for Chinese instead, which was wonderful. After that, we picked up my favorite key lime pie in lieu of a birthday cake, and came home to have it with my parents, sisters and kids. I got a few nice gifts from my family and the sweetest handmade cards from my precious boys. OH, and my big present from Donnie and his mom came a bit earlier in the week: I now have an iPhone 3GS. Niiiiiiiice!

Anyway, Donnie’s quip about this being my “21 x 2” birthday made me start thinking about myself at 21. I found a couple of pics and scanned them.

Here’s me, 21 years old, 21 years ago, taken by my old friend, Larry:

I don’t think I look THAT different.

Then again, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. My skin isn’t as dewy now, I’m significantly heavier, my hair’s a little thinner and in this shot, it had never been colored before. That almost-black is my natural hair color, something that I haven’t seen in a decade or more, ever since the grays starting popping up and Clairol became my new best friend.

And oh my stars, I just realized that in this picture, there are NO LINES on my neck. Holy cow.

I also found this picture of me and the Donald, a couple of weeks before I turned 21, happily washing dishes together.

Happily washing dishes. Together. Boy, has 21 years dampened that particular brand of enthusiasm.

And isn’t it amazing that Donnie’s glasses were ever in style? But they were. Dude was HOT.

Man, how time flies. I think back to myself at 21 and though I miss the physical body I had then (and the energy that accompanied it—OH my stars, the ENERGY I had compared to now!) I still wouldn’t go back to that time even if I could.

Because back then, I didn’t know….

-That God could, and would, carry me through the darkest of trials and make me stronger after every one.

-The heartbreak of a longing unfulfilled and later, the immense joy of it finally coming to pass.

-The kind of love that makes my eyes tear up and my heart nearly burst, all because three amazing boys call me “Mama.”

-The truth that it’s better to share simple food in a happy home than the most lavish of banquets served with strife.

-That I could say what I think, and write what I believe, and if someone doesn’t agree with me, I don’t have to let it crush my spirit.

-That saying “No” is not only possible, but often preferable, and the world doesn’t end if I do so.

-The comfort of being with the same husband for almost twenty years, and how precious that love becomes when we’ve truly been through all the things we vowed to endure together: poverty and plenty, sickness and health, good times and bad, sorrow and joy.

-To seriously not sweat the small stuff. I can now see the wisdom in just letting some things go.

There are more, of course, more things that I’ve learned the past two decades, that are more valuable to me than youth. So I don’t know why a part of me still cringes over hearing “42” and knowing, that’s me. I really am that old.

I am middle-aged and I don’t know how I got here.

But I tell you what. I like the me that I’ve become. And I really believe that like fine wine, when I reach my 21 x3, I’m going to be even better!