My 49th Birthday

Sunday night was the last night of Hanukkah. The next day, Monday December 6th, was my 49th birthday. I told the kids we were going from lighting 8 candles (9 if you count the Shamash candle) one night to lighting 49 candles the next night.

Adam very kindly only lit two candles, and the number he picked to light was an even bigger kindness.

Also on Sunday night Adam mentioned to me that next year I have a big birthday coming up and what did I want to do for it? I gave him a look and said, “I’m not even 49 yet and you are already planning my 50th?”

But secretly I was pleased by the question.

Many people think the big years in life are the years that end in a 0, for example, years you turn 40 or 50. Those years are the dangerous years because you look back at your life and wonder why you haven’t accomplished what you thought you should have by that age, or the realization that you have been stuck in a situation for a long time that doesn’t make you happy. Those years ending in a 0 are like an invisible force applied to the inertia you just realized you had.

But most of my midlife crises happened in the years ending in 9, not 0. When I was 29 years old I looked around and thought, I’m in a dead end job. I don’t want to marry the person I’m dating. I spent the next year figuring out how to fix my life and a month before I turned 30 I moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai, single, and started a new job.

This is why I was so secretly pleased by Adam’s question. I’m the kind of person who plans their midlife crises early. And he’s just as crazy as I am!

My big plan for my birthday THIS YEAR was to have no plan. Specifically to NOT do any errands, clean anything, or cook anything. Implementing this rule that was meant to give me a relaxing day. However, this soon backfired as my new rule of not doing any work butted heads with my other house rules, namely never walk from one floor of the house to another without bringing something up or down that is on the wrong level. Before I knew it, I was having another type of crisis, something like a midday crisis. At some point I found myself standing in the basement next to a pile of things that needed to go upstairs, paralyzed at my indecision as my two rules conflicted each other. After a few minutes of anxious indecision I started laughing to myself and my silly first world problems. In the end I scooped up that pile. It’s not like the pile won’t be there tomorrow, right?

Now that I’m 49 I’m pleased to say that I’m in the opposite frame of mind as my 29th birthday. Instead of looking around and realizing everything needs to be changed, I look around and hope everything stays exactly the same. Don’t change my stay-at-home mom job. Don’t change my husband. Don’t let the kids get older. And don’t let my hair go gray, my muscle weaken, or my skin sag and wrinkle!

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