My birthday is in three days. I’m not sure why 31 makes me want to cry, but it does. 30 was a big year for me, not because of all the things that I did (it wasn’t much), but because of all the time I spent trapped, thinking how differently my life turned out from how I always thought it would.
30 was the year that every time I started to feel ungrateful about the things I didn’t have, I made a conscious effort to think about specific people who had it worse than me. Then I felt grateful. Gratitude is good. What often leads you there (what has mostly led me there this year) is far less satisfying.
So here is my 31.
31 is the year I feel grateful for all the things that I do have, entirely independent of anyone else’s struggles or success. I’ve had so many reminders of this in the past few days. How cruel it is for me to think, “I’m grateful to have a daughter when so many people my age don’t.” 31 is the year that I turn this demented thought process into “I’m grateful.” Period. End of sentence. El fin.
Is it going to be hard? Probably. I’m 31 and I still mourn my losses quite a bit. I still wish that my pregnancies had ended differently, happily, with a lot of screaming and late night feedings and messy diapers. I still wish lots of things. But I look around and I am immensely grateful.
31 is the year I see things differently. I see
a loving husband and best friend
a supportive and unflinchingly loyal family
an adorable, smart, spunky daughter
wonderful neighbors and friends
a gospel that encompasses love
a job, comfort, security
for what they are. Enough. These are all blessings. They are not blessings because you don’t have them. They are not blessings because someone else has less of it. They are blessings because that’s how I choose to see them. Now. Now I see them that way. Because I’m 31 and I know better. Now.
31 is when I stop living in the past. Things have happened in my life that I don’t like. An uncomfortable marriage made me stronger. Divorce has made me stronger. Remarriage has made me stronger. Miscarriage, I hope, is making me stronger. And now I’m strong and I’m more than what these experiences want me to be. I can be grateful now.
I can be grateful, even at 31, for the life that I have right this second. I don’t have to set my happiness afloat in a basket, hoping that someday it will come back and rescue me. That when that happens, then I will be happy and grateful that it all worked out how I wanted. It will work out. Probably not how I wanted, but better. And I’m grateful for that.
For 31, I lay my current view of happiness—as some nondescript pinpoint on the horizon—to rest for good, and live and love and be grateful to be living and loving right now.
Happy birthday, me. It’s good to be here.