Monday, September 19, 2011

Milestone Birthdays

No, I'm not having one right now (thank God) but I just came back from celebrating my mom's 75th birthday and it's gotten me to thinking about not just any birthdays but the 'milestone' birthdays. You know - the ones where the entering of a new year or hitting the actual number means a pretty big deal in your life?

Mom's 75th wasn't big just because the number is. It was a big deal this year because she reached it. Last year, her battle with cancer really made her feel and think about mortality and how every day is truly precious. She (and we!) are so thankful to have her here to celebrate her life. This birthday, for her, is a pretty big milestone because it meant she made it through to the other side. Somewhat changed, weaker in some ways, stronger in others. I think that's what milestone birthdays are all about - knowing or believing that you are about to or have made significant change in your life. Maybe the change is not all good but after that birthday, upon reflection, you know you are a different person.

My milestone birthday was my 40th. I began thinking about it several months before I hit it (I'm always thinking about the approaching date well ahead that it's become a running joke with my husband who says I was born 60 years old already). But that one was a biggie and because I'd made it so significant it must have changed my brain chemistry or something. Why else would I, out of the blue, want to start writing a book? Which is what I started doing the summer before I turned 40. I also lost weight and just had a real "Is this all I want to do and be in my life" kind of moment. Call it a mid-life crisis, call it needing a change, call it what you will but if that big birthday hadn't been looming I wonder if I would have picked up that pen that changed my life in so many ways.

Next year I'll be approaching the big 5-0. In fact, I turn 50 the day after the Mayans say the world will end. Of course it will! I'm turning 50, dammit!! I have a feeling this will be another big milestone for me. I don't know what will change or how but I know that whatever happens I embrace it because now I know 'milestones' are not 'millstones' around your neck. Instead of dragging you down they can lift you up.

What about you all? What have been your milestone birthdays and why?


  1. I love that sentiment that milestones are not millstones grinding one down.

    Mine? January 8th, 2005. It's the Anniversary of when I went deaf. How is that one a milestone? Because my life changed in ways I could never foresee. I became a different person on so many levels.

    Each January 8th, I get to see how far I've come and how I've coped in this new life. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. I love this post, and the idea that we can be lifted up by these milestone birthdays that we attach so much significance to.
    I haven't really celebrated a big milestone birthday yet. My 40th got lost in the busyness of caring for two ailing parents. Perhaps there will be big things happening with number 45 this year!
    Oh, and my mom just celebrated her 75th this month as well. It was a big one because it's been the first year in many that she's been well enough to celebrate anything.

  3. The very idea of celebrating Birthdays,any birthdays,is in keeping with mile-stones, isn't it?
    I'm with you, Nelsa. It is not the 'objective' fact, but the fact that it makes us reflect.
    My heartiest best wishes to your mom.

  4. Can't say I've had a birthday I'd consider a milestone, but my mother had a major issue when I turned 30! She swore it was the first time she felt old. Best wishes to your Mom:)

  5. Hi Indigo: I can't imagine the far-reaching effects that your milestone day has had in your life. I know that you see the shadings of life and write beautifully about them on your blog. If anyone can make a millstone into a milestone it would be you!

    Hi inluvwithwords: Congrats on your mom's 75th and so happy you were able to celebrate it with her!

    Hi Mirka: Yes, it's a blessing when we can take these moments/milestones and reflect and hopefully learn from them.

    Hi Christine: I must agreee - being a parent the milestone birthdays of your children brings an added level to this whole thing. Not only do you reflect on what changes have happened to your children it impacts your life as well!

  6. I'm turning fifty in December and have to admit I'm not handling it as well as you, Nelsa!
    -A distinctly panic-y Bev

  7. Hi Bev: Um, well I'm not sure I'll handle it that well but it is a momentous thing and I can either embrace the sucker or fall to the floor in a pile of quivering jello-like mess. When put that way embracing sounds a heckuvalot better, eh Bev? Embrace it with me, baby! :)