today is my birthday // i’m 34

today is my birthday // i'm 34

All night my heart makes its way however it can over the rough ground of uncertainties, but only until night meets and then is overwhelmed by morning, the light deepening, the wind easing and just waiting, as I too wait (and when have I ever been disappointed?) for redbird to sing. — “A Thousand Mornings” by Mary Oliver

I’ve been dreading this birthday for weeks, even though thirty-four is a very minor adjustment from thirty-three. And, yet, something about the even-ness of the number, it just seems so much closer to forty, and forty is unbearable. I’m sure all of you who are over forty and reading this are hating me right now, but does it not seem absolutely impossible even to be thirty-four? I recently spent a couple of days going through all of my old school papers, and it caused me some distress. Surely this little girl, who was me, would be beside herself with despair to learn that that she hadn’t accomplished anything of note by the age of thirty-three (now -four). The whole exercise plunged me into a sort of mid-life crisis.

That’s not to say I regret all of my choices. I’ve been home with my kids for almost six years now, and it is the most precious gift that my husband could have given me. Truthfully, I never want this part of my life to end. But, the end is terrifyingly close! I am thirty-four, and I have no career and no idea what I’m going to do with myself when my son starts school in just a little over a year. I am thirty-four and there are so many things I have not done, and probably never will do, and that is heartbreaking.

Thirty-four feels ominous. Thirty-four feels like panic.

Still, there is this: when I was making my coffee this morning, the sun was shining on the surface of the pond behind our house, and everything was sparkling, and the birds were singing, and it just felt glorious to be alive and to be part of this astonishingly complex and beautiful creation. So, I’m going to tell myself that whatever God has planned for me, I will take it. I will try not to panic or despair, and I will look forward to the moments of jubilation that exist amidst the uncertainty. I will try to keep my heart and mind open to the possibilities that still lie ahead, without dwelling too much on the path not taken. None of that will be easy, but it is my best option.

Today is my birthday — I’m thirty-four — and, despite the ambiguity of my current situation, I am very happy to be here.

* I wrote a post on my birthday last year, too.

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Kelli Ann Wilson

Kelli lives in rural New Hampshire with her husband Damian and their two children. She works as a writer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, taking pictures, walking in the woods, and celebrating the seasons of nature and the feasts, festivals, and holy days of the Christian year.

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20 Comments

  1. April 28, 2015 / 4:59 pm

    Kelli, you are a gifted photographer, a talented and creative webmaster, an articulate writer whose words arise out of a profound place in your soul…not to mention the mother of two superbly gifted children in the wonderful family you and Damien have created ! You are primed for the opportunities that lie ahead. Take seriously your promise to “look forward to the moments of jubilation that exist amidst the uncertainty.” You are a gift to everyone at St John’s!

  2. April 28, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    Susan, your words touched me deeply. Thank you so much. <3

  3. April 28, 2015 / 6:33 pm

    34 was my most difficult birthday too! I still don’t fully understand why, but I’m sure I shared at least some of the same thoughts you are feeling.

  4. April 28, 2015 / 7:27 pm

    Rebecca, it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one who has felt this way at 34 🙂

  5. April 28, 2015 / 7:46 pm

    Happy birthday pretty girl! Doing anything special today??? Oh girls, 34 is sooooooooo young. The big 60 is what got to me. You feel like you’re in the home stretch of life and always rushing to cram things in. Thirty-four? Anyone want to trade ages??? Ah-Ha! GOTCH-YA’ !!

  6. April 28, 2015 / 7:59 pm

    Okay, when you put it that way, Sharon, I guess I’ll take thirty-four! My husband is actually in Austin, TX at a banking conference, so the kids and I are going to my mom and dad’s house for homemade mac&cheese (after ballet lessons, of course). I have been a terrible correspondent and I owe you an email, which will be forthcoming! I love your little calf — so photogenic! — and I am so glad to hear that Don is doing well. That must be a big relief for you as the caregiver and wife. 🙂

  7. April 29, 2015 / 2:43 am

    Wonderful picture of you Kelli! I sent it to mom. She asks nearly every day if I’ve heard from you.

  8. April 29, 2015 / 2:45 am

    Thank you, Terry! Isn’t your mom just the sweetest thing? I really hope that someday I’ll get to meet her (and you) in “real life.” A trip to Illinois is at the top of my bucket list 🙂

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