Thirty five approached swiftly, softly, sweeping through like the gentlest whisper of a breeze which, except to the sensitive,  could have easily passed by unnoticed.

After sojourning long in pigtails and play jeans, I caught a glimpse of my reflection the other day and saw a woman. Awestruck, I stared in fascination. I only faintly recognized her until a familiar miniature skipped aimlessly behind her. Relieved, I can see the girl is happy, giggling, questioning, trusting, regarding the world’s wonders, boldly reminding the woman to pause every so often to appreciate it.

Watching them together, I half expected an argument to spark up. But no! What’s this? Having sparred for years, I witness even more than just friendship between them now. Kinship, perhaps. They seem to be sharing in some sort of secret even I don’t know yet. In place of the discord that once was, these two distinctly oppositional versions of myself are now teaming up like long-time arch enemies miraculously bonded after some unexpected, shared near-death experience.

I squint and strain, barely making out yet another form, leaning against a tree, far away but always just within range. Her only obvious characteristic from this distance is that she is painfully awkward and unsure of herself. She shuffles nearer and I can now see that she is pensive and moody, as I remember. Yet now, when I see her smile, I sense that she has come to accept that this, too, shall pass…a pleasant surprise, indeed. It’s a miracle, really.

Everything my mother told me about being a girl, a young lady, a woman, a single working mom, a lover and a fighter, is true. And then some. Admittedly, there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about those who have walked a similar path as my own. There are many and I am not all that special after all, so I will spare you my sob story. My last chance at being original is to highlight the good stuff, since nobody seems to do that anymore. Afterall, the ending is so good you’ll want to see this one through for yourself.

As a single mom I can say assuredly that the extra work, blame, ridicule, sideways glances from stay-at-home PTA moms, and blinding exhaustion, is all worth it.

My sins, unlike some folks of the squeaky clean variety, have been laid bare, not only in the presence of those I love, but to my enemies and the natural sphere of our little world. I have been humiliated and punished openly by those who saw fit to accomplish it. I have been shown the error of my ways and would ask for it again tomorrow had I not received it by today.

Dare I say it? You can call it God’s plan, karma, or some other universal label for your own soul’s organizational needs. Not because I gave permission, but because you already have it. As do I. It’s called free will, without which, love could never survive.

And so on this day I look around and find abundant love. The real kind. At last, I’ve found what it takes to give it, receive it, and how to accept the terror that inevitably accompanies it. Where did I find it? My backyard.

I personally happen to know God and that He paid the ultimate price for us to have this freedom. It’s the most beautiful gift there is. Come as you are, but do not resist the painful changes that will transform your heart in ways beyond imagination. This requires trust…obedience, even.

So welcome, 35. Welcome, grown woman. Welcome, inner child. Welcome, uncertain teen. Welcome, today, tomorrow, and the gift of gratitude.

The more, the merrier.


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