Monday, September 19, 2011


Yesterday was my birthday. The big 3-3.

I had a great birthday. My parents came up the day before and took me to my favorite restaurant for lunch. At 33, when you are always used to paying for everything, you forget how nice it is when someone else picks up the check! My actual birthday started with a morning sernade of Happy Birthday from my husband and children, followed by my favorite beignets for breakfast. My kids then “treated” me to an afternoon movie (even the refreshment stand clerk laughed when my daughter said “I’ll pay Mom, but can I borrow your [debit] card???!"). I had a low-key dinner with my family followed by cupcakes made by my favorite little chefs. It was truly an amazing day.

Throughout the day, my kids couldn’t wait to tell everyone that it was my birthday. And of course since they are kids and therefore proud to say how old they are, they felt the need to broadcast to the world my age. But, as my luck would have it, they kept telling people I was 43. No matter how many times I corrected them, 43 it was.

After our birthday cupcakes, my daughter and I started to look through old pictures. Of course, as is her norm, she immediately asked to see pictures of my "Ball" (i.e. my wedding).  One by one she laughed at how young her cousin looked, how handsome Daddy was....

Then we came across this picture….a picture of me getting ready.

J is fascinated by this picture…it’s her favorite picture of me. I’m sure it has to do with the fact I’m delicately putting on a lot of makeup (which of course Miss Diva highly approves of and which she doesn't get to see too often in my crazy Mommy morning rush). This time J was extra excited to see her favorite picture. She turned, put her arm around me, and in a consoling tone said…. “See Mom…here you don’t look 43!”.

Gee…thanks J. Yes, dear I've taken enough logic classes to turn that sentence around and get that you are saying that now I I look 43. Happy Birthday to me! 

My first instinct was to plead my case. Well of course I don't look 43 in that picture! I had no mortgage, few responsibilities, full nights of sleep, no kids to "share" my debit card, no cares in the world. I was simply living in the present, basking in the glow of knowing I was about to marry my soulmate. Yep, I was in my 20's so my thoughts didn't go past the reception at that point.

Now? Well I'm sure I do look 43 with all the weight I carry on my shoulders. Now I constantly have to think ahead, whether its insuring my life or just worrying about what to cook this week. In addition to myself, I am responsible for their future. I juggle more now than that 27 year old in that picture ever could have imagined. So, yes if it wasn't for expensive Aveda moisturizers or the "anti-aging" foundation I broke down and switched to this past year, I'd probably look 63 considering all I carry on my plate!

But alas, I didn't defend myself to my 5 year old. I just rolled my eyes playfully at her and chuckled. Alright, she's right...I don't look much like the 20 something Mandi in J's favorite picture.  But for me, that isn’t a bad thing. The truth is I love my 30’s and embrace each passing year. The Mandi in J's picture may have been getting herself together for her big day, but in many ways she wasn't even close to feeling as "put together" as I do today. At 33, I’m finally starting to hit my stride. I’m setting aside insecurities, finally becoming comfortable in my skin, truly loving my life.

About 10 years ago I heard a sermon in church. I was in my early-mid 20's and going through what I hope will be the darkest time in my life. I had no clue where my life was leading, no path was laid before me. That day a guest pastor gave the sermon. This sermon has touched my life in such a way that not only did I buy an audio tape version from the church, I have the video. During one part of what will forever be my favorite sermon, the pastor looked out at the young crowd:

“…and if you are under 30, just shut up, raise your hand, and others will help you…you honestly have no clue. I know you think you do...but you don't. YOU HAVE NO CLUE.”

Of course laughter soon followed out of the congregation. But as I sit here entering my mid 30’s I wish I could find that pastor and tell him how dead on he was. I look back on my 20-something self and just laugh…that girl in J's favorite picture may have thought she knew it all, but she had no clue.

So even though I must admit it’s a little off-putting to have your 3 and 5 year old telling everyone in  Lion King 3D "Hey my Mom is 43 today!!" I guess it's okay. I’d rather be 33 with a little age on my face, than 23 and no clue who I was or where I was going. Now at 33, one small town Iowa boy and three beautiful children later, I have found the true serenity that comes when you finally find happiness.

So welcome 33…[yes Quad Cities, even though you may have heard otherwise its actually 33, not 43]…let’s have a great year.


1 comment:

  1. I love this Mandi and that picture of you is so BEAUTIFUL!