This is thirty eight


I loved our This is Childhood series this winter.  I loved writing This Is Ten about my first child, my pioneer, my grace, my Grace.

I keep thinking of things that describe my now, and thought I would write my own grown-up version.

So: this is thirty eight.

Thirty eight is solidly in the middle of my life.  Thirty eight is realizing that there are likely as many years behind me as there are ahead.  It is acknowledging that life is no longer a green field, that certain doors are closed, that some choices are irrevocable, and that many of the big what-ifs that haunted my childhood have been answered.  Thirty eight is also realizing that despite these answers, there are far, far more new questions.

Thirty eight is new lines at the sides of my eyes and mouth.  From smiling, maybe, but still.

Thirty eight is wearing my wedding ring all the time though my engagement ring rarely.  Thirty eight is not knowing which band was my wedding band and which my husband gave me on the day our daughter was born, because they are identical.  I don’t think it matters.  Thirty eight is wearing my mother’s wedding ring for a time, when she was unable to.  Thirty eight is knowing that one of my favorite pictures from our long-ago wedding shows that I wore my grandmother’s ring on my right hand when I walked down the aisle.

Thirty eight is realizing that certain shorts and skirts are now just too short.  Thirty eight is wondering if this is the summer to put away the bikinis.

Thirty eight is thirteen years of marriage.  It is knowing all the ways that marriage is both less and more than I thought it was, when I walked into a church wearing white and hearing thunder.  Less score-keeping, less candlelight, less drama.  More small acts of kindness, more forgiveness, more abiding.  Fewer flowers, but more cups of coffee made exactly how I like them, without being asked, brought to me in bed in the morning.

Thirty eight is realizing that my lifetime passion for peonies probably has something to do with their life span, which is as short as it is spectacular.  It can’t be an accident that I love best of all the flowers that blaze more brightly and most briefly.

Thirty eight is not having any more grandparents.  It is hearing about the illness and death of my friends’ parents.  It is going to funerals, and also christenings, more often than weddings.  Thirty eight was leaving my injured mother’s side before surgery a couple of years ago to run home to my daughter, who was crying that I wasn’t spending enough time with her.  Thirty eight is the middle place.

Thirty eight is knowing who your friends are, for real, for certain.  It is understanding that though there will be a small handful of true native speakers, it is okay for many friends to access only certain parts of you.  These friendships, while different, can offer great joy, deep laughter, and tremendous companionship.  Thirty eight is still learning that not everybody will like you, no matter what you do.

Thirty eight is drinking homemade green juice and Diet Coke most days.  It is developing a taste for kombucha, and drinking coffee with coconut milk and xylitol.  It is drinking wine still, but not as much, because I’d rather sleep and I’ve realized that alcohol interferes with that.

Thirty eight is finding that each year she grows more sensitive, more aware of life’s beauty and pain, more attuned to the world around her.  Thirty eight cries every single day, and laughs that much too (see: lines on my face).

Thirty eight is in the heart of the grand love affair that is motherhood, both smitten by and exasperated by her daughter and son. Thirty eight is watching, awestruck, as these children develop into people in whom bloom traits uncomfortably familiar and absolutely foreign in equal measure.  Thirty eight reads Harry Potter aloud, packs lunches, drives to and from soccer and hockey and baseball practices and games (see photo), plans surprise adventure outings, and can still make a bruised knee feel better with a kiss.

Thirty eight is its own kind of phosphorescence.  Different than ten’s ephemeral incandescence, but no less dazzling and no less fleeting.  Just like ten, just like life itself, thirty eight is bewilderingly beautiful, maddeningly confusing, achingly bittersweet, and vanishingly transient.


104 thoughts on “This is thirty eight”

  1. I certainly hope you aren’t lumping me in there with the wise women … because I’m not. But I’m happy to provide some glimpse of the view, five years on! It’s pretty lovely. xox

  2. I’m really grateful that you commented – and glad to know you’re reading. And that you are alongside me, in age and in family make-up! Don’t worry, those sports practices will come VERY soon … 🙂 xox

  3. This is so beautifully written and very touching to read. We are the same age and many of your eloquently stated thoughts resonate with me. I can particularly relate to your paragraph on friendships and how we gain greater clarity in our relations with others as we age. I found you through the comments section of Erin Gate’s blog, and I am so glad I did!

  4. Oh, thank you! I’m so glad to hear that we’re the same age and that you can relate. I love Erin and her blog – glad you came over! xox

  5. Lindsey, You are such a gift. I relate to SO much of what you say–is so wise. At 38, can’t say i’m feeling this wise. Thank you. You make me want to be a better, vulnerable person.

  6. This is stunning, Lindsey. I find this stage of life inspires so much introspection and reflection, and it is becoming clear to me why people are stricken with “mid-life crises!” You really captured this beautifully.

  7. Feeling inspired to write “this is 48.”

    And about the bikini: Wear it as long as you can. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. In my 30s, I was too quick to give up some things. I can see that now in retrospect, and I wish I’d hung onto them a bit longer.

  8. We should all do this and every year to see how our perspective changes! My favourite part: Fewer flowers, but more cups of coffee made exactly how I like them, without being asked, brought to me in bed in the morning.

  9. I remember 38, you’ve captured it JUST so perfectly! 🙂

    Now at 63, still feeling such feelings and yet so much more!

  10. Wow – just wow! I am so inspired by this post and thrilled to have come across your blog through Aidan’s FB shout-out…

    I always searched for who I was – what I was supposed to “be” at the very core – and life handed me the answer over three years ago with the birth of my son and all of the tragedy, love, fear, growth, questions, pain, joy, tears, triumph and strength that came along with him.

    It is still a role I am learning, and with it I was shown what I wanted to be when I grew up – the best version of “me” I could.

    It looks as though you have already mastered that life lesson…

  11. I assure you, I have mastered NOTHING. I’m so glad you commented – I went to your blog and read several posts and your loneliness post felt familiar, and I realized I had read (and loved) it last week! Small circular world … For what it’s worth I think there is great richness and story even in the moments that ARE “normal” – there’s texture even in that, I think. I hope you’ll keep sharing it. xox

  12. Thank you so much. What an incredibly generous thing to say. I don’t think I’m wise … I’m just telling my story, as I hope we all will. Believe me, I fall down all the time! xox

  13. Thank you so much. Yes, yes, introspection and reflection. Absolutely true. And, at least for me, no small degree of melancholy.

  14. I shall take a deep breath and wear my bikini this summer. And please do write this is 48. I look forward to reading it!!

  15. Today is my birthday – I am 36!
    I love my bdays, always loved celebrating and making a big deal. This year was no different.
    You have captured it all so perfectly – some shorts r just too short, put away the bikinis, less candlelight, less drama, little gestures that make all the difference… True friendship, deep laughter, motherhood, the infectious laughter of children… Peonies…
    It was a perfectly written piece. I’m right here with you. Felt the complete connection. Love it. Very fitting to read it on my bday!
    To many more…

  16. I turn 38 in two months, and I am every bit as you have said here. Except for the peonies. Tulips for me 🙂

    Gorgeous, Lindsey. And perfect.

  17. Lindsey, I love this and it makes me wish I some thing like it in a journal every few years of my life to capture that time.

  18. I love this, thank you. I had a hard time turning 38 this year, you’ve put into words many of things I felt but couldn’t quite articulate. You’ve given me more to think about.

  19. Thank you for such a lovely and accurate description! I’ll be 40 next month. Accepting the changes in the psychological landscape but the physical ones are harder (why does my back ONLY feel good if I do yoga the night before?!).

    I’ve also come to terms with “It is understanding that though there will be a small handful of true native speakers, it is okay for many friends to access only certain parts of you.” It’s a bit lonely, since the native speakers aren’t always close by and I’m learning to be OK with that.

  20. Yes, yes, and yes. Lonely for sure. I am often lonely. Even when surrounded by people. But finally I think I understand why, which does help, at least a bit. xoxo

  21. The thing that has been surprising for me about this age is how it’s not all building on things I thought I had figured out. There’s been some ripping out of foundations and starting over, internally, even though externally I’ve been on a steady course.

    (Hi Lindsey! Classmate of mine from so long ago–you are the reason I always thought “Lindsay” was the wrong spelling.)

  22. I am consistently inconsistent with social media, however, this evening I happened to be skimming FB with no real purpose and then came across this post. It rang so true with me – especially today! As I spent the morning in the basement of my high school picking out old uniforms to hang on to before a wrecking ball will make the place history, a swirl of thoughts ran through my head. The first of which was that I never would have thought that my life experiences in the last 20 years would have led me back to this basement. This was kind of a grown-up turning point. Thinking about where I’ve been, but even more about my husband & two kids, and where I am going. You articulated what I was feeling today at this juxtaposition age-38. P.S. I also agree about the peonies. The peonies that line the side of my house are in full bloom and are a reminder to enjoy all the little moments of bloom in my life.

  23. Oh, thank you so much for this comment. I’m grateful to know that this spoke to you. And what an outrageously poignant moment, in the basement of your school – wow. Incredible. I’m often struck by how it is really just one big circle, at least for me. I’m sure it’s not an accident that the lines I am most often sent from people who read this blog are TS Eliot’s from Little Gidding : “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time.”

  24. Hi!!! Small world! And yes, Lindsay IS the wrong spelling 🙂 (so glad to have helped teach you that important point).

    Agree entirely – some of the foundations that I thought were the most solid have, in fact, been totally ripped out.

  25. Oh Linds, I loved this post! Even though I’m 41, I think all of the years that hover around 40 have made me reflect the way you did in this post. No longer are the sands of time something in the far off distance, you know? I keep wondering, “Am I living the life I’m supposed to live?” and “What if I realize I’m not and it’s too late?”

    Getting older does mean getting wiser (totally get your revelation about wine) but it also brings up bouts of panic as I want to make sure I don’t muck up the time I have left.

    Love the pic, by the way. You may be the best dressed baseball mom I “know”. 🙂

  26. OMG how did I miss this last week?? This is unbelievable, how you have captured life – 38 – in these few words. I am in tears about the rings, the peonies, the coffee. Thank you for this.

  27. So so glad you wrote this post! I recall a twitter convo somewhere about this and you could not have made it lovelier. Thanks, Lindsey. I am 34, but I so relate. xox

  28. A friend shared this on FB, and I had to click over. I am 34. Most of this I get. At 34 I feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel strong. Young enough to rock it still, old enough to ache when I do.=) It is a great age. More settled than the 20s. Stay 29 forever? Not me! How about 34?=)
    Thanks for a great read!

  29. We are the same age. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your beautiful summarizing of your experience…aging has been a bit of a struggle for me, I have only just decided how lovely it really is.

  30. Thank you so much for commenting. I love hearing from others who are the same age – “vintage” – as me. And I’m glad to know that you can relate. xox

  31. Oh my gosh, I just love this post… so thoughtful and poignant. When I read this last month, I was about to turn 38 myself, and feeling a bit heavy about it all. How did a decade go so fast, from getting married at 28 and now, here nearly 38… Time confounds me and milestones immerse me in nostalgia, which makes me weepy and full. Reading this made me pause and feel less lonesome, knowing everyone feels the depth of time and loss of it. I am planning my own version soon, so thank you very much for the inspiration and this gorgeous blog.

  32. I’m so glad you commented – I love hearing of others who are at the same lifestage as I am (38) and I’m also so glad to have found your marvelous blog. Thank you! I look forward to reading your This is 38. xox

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