Today was my thirtieth birthday, which officially marks the end of my Wild And Crazy Twenties, in which I did such scandalous things as driving five miles over the speed limit and sometimes, if I was feeling especially daring, eating ice cream straight out of the carton. But only if no one was looking.
Okay, so I did play roller derby, which involved wearing my underwear on the outside of my clothing in public, but trust me when I say that I was the June Cleaver of the derby world. True story: one time I was playing in a bout up in Canada and a few derby members of another league mentioned they were going outside for a "safety meeting" and I was welcome to join them. I cheerfully agreed because I figured that we'd need someone from our team to be a representative at the meeting if we were going to discuss safety issues. One of my teammates had to pull me aside and explain that, um, no, I probably didn't want to be there as there would be 100% less discussion of safety than I was expecting and 100% more pot smoking.
I'm just glad I found out before I got out there; that would have been a rather awkward moment.
So I've missed my opportunity to do all of the things that, according to most of the magazines on the grocery store shelves, I seem to have been supposed to do in my twenties. I segued from my extremely straight-laced childhood and teen years, in which the most appalling thing I did was wear turquoise floral wind pants with a bright orange shirt, permed hair and huge tortoise-shell rimmed glasses (trust me when I say that it was pretty darn appalling, and no you cannot see pictures) directly into my just-as-straight-laced college days, where since Jer was the second guy I went out with my freshman year I completely missed out on the serial dating and bar hopping thing I was apparently supposed to be doing.
Okay, so I don't really think I'm going to regret not having any of those experiences, and my twenties sure as heck had enough crazy things going on in them anyway without adding any binge drinking, arrests or one-night stands to the mix. If I'd done that stuff I probably would have missed out on many quiet, happy nights spent reading books and drinking cups of tea, which would have been sad. I also probably would have missed out on marrying Jeremy (who was just as straight-laced as I was growing up, though he had better taste in hairstyles and pants) and parenting Connor, and that would have been considerably more tragic.
Clean living doesn't seem to have done me a whole lot of good though appearance-wise, because in the process of putting together my garage studio I came across my giant box of old pictures of my last couple of years of college and first years of marriage. I made the mistake of holding up one of me at twenty and looking into the mirror. I don't know why I thought this was going to be a good idea; woman readers, I highly suggest you never, ever do this. Up to that point I thought I hadn't changed all that much; sure I'd gained a few pounds and added a few strands (read: a lot) of grey hair, but with a dye job and a bit of makeup on I figured I looked about the same.
Oh, boy, was I deluding myself.
In the picture I have glowing skin, cleavage that didn't need to be hauled back up and strapped into the proper place with industrial strength equipment, and a ridiculously chipper expression on my face. In the mirror I appear to have been washing my face with a Brillo pad, I have circles under my eyes any raccoon would envy and my general expression seems to be frozen somewhere between Deer In The Headlights and Dangerously Homicidal.
I'm not sure exactly what lesson I should take from this revelation, other than the obvious Never Compare Myself To Pictures Of Me A Decade Younger Ever, Ever Again. Apparently spending a few years parenting a child who periodically tries to shuffle off this mortal coil on me and being married to a guy who can check "almost being blown to kingdom come" off his bucket list has done the same job on my appearance that imbibing large quantities of alcohol and/or illegal substances might otherwise have accomplished.
Of course if I could travel back in time I wouldn't want to be twenty ever again. Glowing skin aside, when I was twenty I was a completely different person than I am now. I think my personality, unlike my appearance, has mellowed and improved with age. Motherhood is totally worth it-- I've earned every line and wrinkle. And hey, just because my life hasn't been stress-free and I didn't do all the things Cosmo seems to think people in their twenties should do doesn't mean I'm not enjoying myself. I've had way, way too much fun being a wife and mother over the past decade to want to go back to my flippant, unmarried, childless life-- even if it would mean I could wear a two piece bathing suit out in public again without scaring small children.
And hey, good thing my sister and I are taking some pictures next week, so I can pull them out when I'm forty.
I bet I'll take one look and have no idea what the heck I was complaining about.
2 months ago