When I was a little girl, my birthday was always a milestone, an indication that summer was in full swing, but also an acknowledgement that July 4 was right around the corner, and this meant we were headed towards the backside of summer which signaled the imminent beginning of school.
These days, my birthday symbolizes a different type of milestone. It is time to assess what I've accomplished in my life, and what I still have left to do. At my age, there is also the realization that the second half of one's life as a parent is less about you climbing mountains, and more about providing support to your children as they climb the mountains. I'm not suggesting that we give up our own dreams, but suddenly, after pursuing them for decades, they seem significantly less important than helping our children chase theirs, and to be frank, the chase gets pretty exhausting.
So, what does this midpoint of life look like? That's what I'm trying to figure out. I remember when I had my second child in my late 30s and the nurse wrote "advanced maternal age" on my forms at the doctor's office. It was clearly a foreshadowing, a moniker for my future parenting years. With that in mind, I have a few birthday reflections this year:
1. Good health is key. Do what you need to do to maintain it. I'm not trying to stop the clock, just slow it down a little bit. Life is a marathon - you can choose to jog to the finish line, or crawl across it, losing your toenails and lunch in the process.
2. Find peace, whatever that is to you. Meditate, read, hike, paint, do yoga, take a bike ride. Our crazy stressful lives are not doing us any favors as it relates to our emotional health. This too needs maintenance.
3. Don't postpone fun. Seek it out, embrace it. Take opportunities to do new things with old friends and new friends. Never turn down a chance to have fun in deference to something more mundane like laundry or work.
Due to my "advanced maternal age," I may end up fast-walking to the finish, but hopefully I'll do it with a little aplomb, a lot of Zen, and my kids by my side every step of the way ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.