This is 39? I stumbled across this article yesterday. Few articles make my hair stand up but this one? It did. You see, I’m 39. And I don’t feel old or like I am squinting. I don’t feel like I am too cool to be friends with Taylor Swift. And I certainly don’t feel like I could be her mother. I’ve been talking about yoga pants since my 20s. This isn’t new to year 39, I just can afford better ones even though I still often pick the ones in the juniors section at Target. Let’s be real here, no one REALLY needs 98.00 leggings. It shouldn’t even be a thing. And that it is a thing is the reason we’ve all coined “first world problems”.
Most of my people are still married. I only know one person going through a divorce. And she’s lucky. Because he’s a douche bag and she deserves better. My sister is divorced but by no fault of her own. It doesn’t count because it’s nothing she could have done to prevent it. Not that you should ever have to justify a divorce. My closest friend loves her husband more every day…. and I still love mine, despite really tough few years. I can’t imagine a divorce. I can’t imagine our family every other weekend and on Thursdays. I could and still would hang out with Carrie Bradshaw… I am the Samantha on some days and others, I am Miranda. She is not younger than me. She never was. We all are getting older together. But by no means is 39 old.
I am not getting ready to bury my parents. My mother isn’t even 60 and my husband’s parents are nowhere close to old folks home. We have a 95-year-old Grandma who’s pretty kick ass. She’s not even old. Who the hell defined old anyway?
I’m nowhere near old and this? This is my 39.
This is the year I let go. I took moments, days even entirely for myself. Sometimes those “self” days were with my children at an amusement park and sometimes? They were in the YMCA, alone, sweaty and angry, followed by the amazing endorphin rush and a few moments watching kids splash in the pool before I hurried home. It’s the year I dyed my hair blue and started my sleeve. This is the year I started saying exactly what I was thinking. It was the year I stopped believing that anyone else was in control besides me. It is the year I felt the calm in the storm and the year I realized it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about me. I decided to do more in year 39. I’ve slowly been studying to be a doula. Surprisingly, I signed up to be a Pound Pro. I make things. I wear clothes I never would have before. I am no longer embarrassed that I’m not the textbook beauty. I am beautiful in my own way; even on the days that I forget it. But I am beautiful inside. And while I am loud and sometimes mean, the core is good. Even when the outside is snarky or angry.
Year 39 was the year I went to a concert again. And road a rollercoaster for the first time in forever. It’s the year I felt good in a swimsuit and that I made things that I loved instead of what I thought people would love. It’s the year I started reading again. And learning and loving. It’s the year I figured out that we need a village and that women support women. They don’t hurt them, stab them or mistreat them. The Red Tent should be a thing; sans the religious bullshit. It’s the year I figured out a lot of people use God as a guise to be cruel… it’s the year I lost faith but without sadness or mourning. And that taught me to trust my gut. When things don’t “feel” right, listen. Your gut is often on point. Mine always has been.
I will say, she finished her article with excitement about 40. So, I’ll toss the grace bone. But to those 39s out there that are remembering like this person was in their article, keep in mind that it’s not the end, the middle or the beginning. It just is. Enjoy it. I’d hate to be the early 30s again. I felt awful most of that decade. This is better. I know who I am and I am not clinging to the past either. 39 is good. Real good.
I don’t really know how the weight crept up on me. I mixture of anxiety and children I guess but in the “before” shot, I was over 200 pounds. And I knew it and I hated it but it seemed like nothing I did seemed to help and I just kept eating and sitting and doing nothing to change myself. Even though I felt mentally and physically gross. Working out was here and there. I ran for a while; before that, I was dedicated to the gym but because I didn’t change what I was eating, it didn’t help. I quit when I didn’t lose and didn’t look back when I got pregnant with my fourth child.
This last year was different though. I will confess that my weight loss initially started because of stress. There were weeks that I didn’t eat, literally. I lived on coffee and through the osmosis of my children’s energy. But it started to come off, albeit the wrong way, but it did. When the fear set in though, I decided I needed to be strong. And when I realize the endorphins curbed the anxiety, I added a ton of cardio. Eventually, as the gym got busier, and I got braver and need more and started a few classes. One because a dear friend taught it and others because I knew they’d help get the angry out. And with that, I felt less angry, less sad, less scared and very strong; both mentally and physically. I was, I am no longer afraid.
What I learned from that act of exercise is that it made me feel better mentally and physically but mostly mentally. I have a devote fondness for my Pound Fitness class. My friend Mary was the ONLY reason I tried it. I didn’t do classes at that point and was afraid of embarrassing myself in a group fitness setting. But I love her and I am SO proud of her journey. I wanted to support her and the best was I could was by going to her class. I loved it. From class one. Hitting things with sticks? Well, it’s better than some of the other stuff I wanted to do. It’s also better than yelling or being upset all the time about things I have no control over. Hitting things with sticks has helped me begin to let go. And as the one year of that devastation approaching, I am fully confident all this will be a distant memory and truly the biggest learning experience of my life.
With the new year, the gym is packed. It’s so funny to be one of the “regulars” versus the people who resolve to get fit then drop off the gym surface after a few weeks. I was a little stabby last week when one of my favorite classes was packed to the gills but quickly realized it’s awesome. It’s great that there will be some people in that class who are going to change their lives. Just like I changed mine.
What are your favorite gym classes? Or workout routines?
When I was pregnant with Devlynn I had convinced myself that once she arrived I would easily find childcare and march my hiney back to my loved waitressing job. I honestly loved to work before I had her. What I didn’t account for is the fact that this tiny human was about to consume my entire heart and there was no way in hell I was gonna leave her with anyone, ever. Waitressing was not a career and Kevin and I agreed that it was just easier and better for me to stay home.
Through the years we added children. Four to be exact. I stayed home with each of them, picking up odd jobs here and there. Sealing envelopes, making pageant clothes; I even taught myself to code and work various Adobe programs to not have to return to the workforce and be able to stay home with my little guys. I’ve sewn everything under the sun and done so many jobs, if I actually sat down and wrote out a résumé, it would look pretty impressive. Yes, that’s bragging on myself. I’m not even gonna apologize for being proud of that.
My baby turned three this last year. And it was a hard, hard year for me. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you I’d lost myself in the spring of 2017. Not that I was ever really sure of myself. In March, I just totally melted into this puddle of wondering who I’d become and who I was becoming. And I panicked and cried and probably annoyed the hell out of the woman who so bravely and strongly supported me through what was the worst few months of my life. And with that, I started to find me again. Gone were the days of worrying about what people would think of a wild hair color and I finally started my much-wanted sleeve (it’s beautiful btw and I wish I could go more than once every three months). But my biggest change was my weight. Admittedly it was kick-started by stress but as I looked for an outlet for all the anger I felt, I found the gym. I love the gym. I never thought I would ever say that. Ever. It started with hour-long sessions on the elliptical and eventually more planned out workouts thanks to my sister’s ex-husband who also happens to be a kick-ass personal trainer. And I eventually added a nutritionist and then classes. I lost 45 pounds and a lot of shame I felt being a “big” girl. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and not be horrified by what I saw. And I felt good, inside. Which matters so much more than what I saw outside. And I did it at the YMCA. The YMCA is my happy place. And when I decided it was time to look for a part-time job it only made sense to apply there..
I don’t have any teacher experience and so I applied in childcare. Mom of five? Yup, plenty of experience and the added bonus was I could take my little boys with me to work making my schedule more open. I started in the summer. I have loved almost every moment of it. It has just added to the pieces of missing me. I love to go to work. And there is something about helping other mama’s out that gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. I remember the first time I handed Dixon over to a smiling Miss Jenn. She took him, played with him and I knew he was safe and when I came back and he’d had an accident, she acted like it was no big deal, smiled and was glad I got to have that hour of time for myself.
The YMCA is a great place. To go to and to work at and I am grateful for everything it’s done for me. My self-esteem isn’t great these days but it’s better than it was. I still battle with a lot of questions on why and what was wrong with me when everything seemed to fall apart. It’s hard not to wonder why things happen and then to not instantly blame yourself when really it was someone else’s insecurity and selfishness that caused all the pain. Adding a job makes me feel helpful and productive and has helped that terrible esteem greatly. And, I’ve made a few friends along the way… I am hoping that with time I can grow those relationships outside the safe walls of the Y.
Working isn’t for everyone and I will never pretend my 10 hour a week job is anything to compare to a full-time, working mother but it does help my family even if it is simply by helping me grow and feel better inside.
A happy wife is a happy life. I know it’s cliché but it’s not wrong.