Dear sons, with forced smiles because your Mom took way too many pictures of you that day,
It's me again. As of this week, I'm a 34-year-old woman. To you, I know it sounds ancient, but as best as I can remember, I was a teenager last night when I went to bed. The other day you asked me how many days I had left to live. You promised you'd miss me if I died and assured me we'd meet in heaven when you guys "get old" too...like 35 or 100.
I figure with your woeful understanding of age and ladydom, we could tackle the Mars and Venus birthday situation together. It's my job to help you navigate the world of women long before you even attempt to chart the solar system.
Maybe someday you'll get married, or at the least, you'll go on a few dates and keep kind female friends. This is pending your ability to conquer the toilet seat situation. I have faith. You've mastered the monkey bars and can swirl spaghetti on your forks now.
Here are a few things you should know about when your wife turns 34...
See this girl in the picture? She's 22. You should note that the sky is dark in the background. The nighttime shot depicts a time and a place long ago forgotten by your wife. Late nights without consequence are a luxury.
Lesson #1: In her 30's, she'll still feel like picture-girl on the inside, when she promises to keep her eyes open for the entire fifty minutes of your favorite car show. Her intentions will be impeccable, but alas, her heavy eyelids will win the battle. She'll want to go out later than 10pm and be the exciting woman you fell in love with. She'll worry that you loved that girl more than this tired one.
Tip: Get a sitter. I promise you, if you up your creative game in the date planning department, she'll return to you time and time again.
For now, cover her with her favorite soft blanket. Kiss the cheek of the one who looks forward to cuddling up with you each night, in the home you created together. Those are the moments you'll remember and the ones you'll miss the most, should they slip away.
Lesson #2: Your wife will long for the body of younger years. She'll pine for the one that spent all day playing mud volleyball and didn't ache a single bit.
She'll muscle through her days with energy and purpose, forgetting her age until she's brushing her teeth and notices tired purple curves beneath her eyes - until her knees scream angry as the weight of the day falls off each night.
She'll be tempted to tell herself that she's less attractive on occasion, but be encouraged. With some of the telltales signs of age, comes a freedom from the insecurities of youth.
This will be the war waging inside of her - an appreciation for a newfound confidence in who she's become and the mourning of who she used to look like. Remind her often that she's amazing. And beautiful. Caring. Yours. She probably won't admit this to you, but she cares about what you think more than you'll ever understand. Wield that power gently, as if it's one of the most precious gifts you've ever been given.
Finally, Lesson #3: Help your wife to remember who she is at her core, rather than only praising her for what she does. Her job description will change time and time again throughout your years together. Old dreams will fizzle and new ones will take their place. She's already morphed from single to spoken for, girlfriend to wife, and perhaps now wife to mother. Positions and titles will shift at work. It'll be tempting for her to define herself by those jobs. "Businesswoman." "Mom." "Student." "Executive." "Clerk."
None of them will reflect the whole of the woman she's become to you, though she'll wonder if they're what make her worthy of love and admiration.
Help her keep perspective. The 30s are a season of change for so many of us...career transitions, additions to the family, or relational struggles. Remind her of the attributes you love about her which never change - that she's generous, compassionate, funny, or hard-working. Those will be the words that define your legacy together.
So get out there and love on that wife of yours - it's in your DNA. Your grandparents have always been amazing at birthdays. Now it's up to you to carry the tradition. I don't know what your futures hold, guys, but I trust God, whose sense of goodness and time is limitless.
Much love and all the hugs,
Your often know-it-all, sometimes doting Mom
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.