As of Sunday, I will no longer be in my “mid-twenties.” At 27, I’ll be living in my “late-twenties” stage, nearing closer to that arbitrary age at which women are supposed to be embarassed to admit when they were born.
I approach my own birthday with some consternation. I abhor and reject the popular notion that women have a sell-by date, after which they become invisible and unimportant. But I know I will be held to the same sexist standard and I don’t like it. I have heard women say they enjoy the freedom that comes with invisibility. There’s a definite appeal to that. Then why does it trouble me to be subject to fewer cat-calls and come-ons than I was as a younger woman? It’s strange, as a woman, to watch your “prime” – as defined by patriarchy – slip away. That this thought occupies space in my head sickens me. Oh big P, you’re such a mind-fuck.
But our sexist society does not generate all my birthday anxiety. Birthdays are fraught with self-examination and reevaluation; they force you to look at what you’ve accomplished in the past and what awaits down the road. This one is really no different from the last, but they are all sort of flashing, blinking reminders that my time is limited! and I’d better make something of myself! And the older I get the more it seems no time at all has passed between them. I remember the single-digit birthdays, playing games in the backyard and getting nervous about sleepovers. And how my college friends always threw “secret” little parties for each other’s birthdays in the dorms. Birthdays are less remarkable these days (though the pressure to celebrate awesomely is second only to that on New Years Eve).
Additionally, if I am a year older it means my parents are a year older and I am that much closer to losing them. I value the relationship that’s developed between my parents and me as I’ve grown into adulthood, and I just plain love them both as people. Their mortality, in addition to my own, scares me. I don’t know if I want children but I always thought that if I did have kids I’d begin at 30, give or take a year. My dysfunctional body presents an obstacle to pregnancy, however. Since the chance that my tumor will disappear is exactly zero, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to have (biological) children anyway.
Birthdays are not supposed to be melancholic! I am excited about eating ice cream cake, and trying out the Diva Cup BeckySharper sent me! Does anyone else get broody on their birthday?