During the early 2000s, “Sex and the City” was one of the hottest shows on television. I, a young college student, watched in awe as those 30-something-year-old women gallivanted about New York City, enjoying an endless slew of men, fashion and cosmopolitans. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha seemed to have it all — great apartments, fabulous careers and access to the best clubs. Yet, no matter how wonderful their lives were, there was an undercurrent of emptiness following through the series.
This feeling was exemplified by the episode featuring Carrie’s 35th birthday. In one of the saddest displays ever seen on television, we find Carrie, sitting alone at a huge table, wondering when her friends will arrive. Making matters worse, at a nearby table, an exuberant young lady is celebrating her own birthday, at which she exclaims, “Twenty-five! Fuck, I’m old!”
I turn 35 this week, and as a married woman with kids, my life is very different than the one portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker on “Sex and the City.” Funny how when I watched the show in youth, I pictured my adult life involving lots of parties and a great career. Marriage and family were not top of mind. My life is very different than how I envisioned it at 19, and in many ways, I have what those women were striving for, a husband, a family – people with whom I can share my celebrations as well as sadness.
Thirty-five feels like a pivotal moment in my life. My oldest, now 5, is a school kid who grows more independent each day, and my little one will soon be three, (hopefully!) potty trained and long past the baby stage. I am finding more time to write and focus on building my personal brand. I am entertaining the idea of steady freelance gigs, and thinking more about my career than any point during the last five years.
Granted, there are still challenges. Sleep continues to be an issue, but I am no longer in the perpetual fog of early motherhood. I see the proverbial light, and imagine more time to connect with my husband and not have my thoughts dominated by our children. I am more comfortable with others watching them, and am even considering expanding that circle of trust to include non-family members. Even the idea of traveling with kids no longer scares me, as evidenced by our decision to finally get them passports. I happily find myself planning imaginary excursions around the world, envisioning my kids soaking up the amazing cultures and experiences.
At the same time, my body is reminding me my childbearing days are ending, and that if I want to have any more kids, I better get on it. After a lifetime of regular periods, save for when I was pregnant or regularly breastfeeding, my monthly flow has become that friend that just shows up whenever, out of the blue, always needing something. Just when I think I have it pegged, the next month is completely different. Add to that, is the wonderful joy of nausea and headaches, I’m guessing due to my bodies changing hormone levels. After getting pregnant, successfully and relatively easily the first two times, I know I can no longer take that for granted. I no longer have the luxury of time.
However, just because my biological clock is ticking, it doesn’t mean I have to set the alarm. I am enjoying my life at the moment, and am very eager to see what’s next for me. I am grateful for my wonderful family and good friends. I am thankful to be a part of a supportive writing community and to have a few people read and engage with my words.
At 35, I am in a pretty good place. Am I happy every moment? Of course not. There are days when I feel down, days when I feel angry, days when I feel resentment and every emotion in between. But, even during the toughest moments, I am still grateful for so much. I can look back on 35 years and feel content.
The end of that “Sex and the City” episode saw Carrie in a coffee shop, surrounded by her best friends. The scene opens with Carrie confessing her feelings of loneliness, and wondering if her life would be better with a man around. Then, in a poignant character choice, perpetual romance-seeker, Charlotte utters one of the best lines of the episode: “Maybe we can be each other’s soul mates.” Married or single, kids or childless, all of us share a common desire to connect, to feel supported and to know someone’s got our back.
I am sending my birthday cheers to those people. The spouses who support us, the friends who are always there for us, the family who stands by us, and everyone in between.
Here’s to you.