There have been many posts written about certain ages, and they are all titled "This is x age". I thought about writing one around the time of my birthday but it wasn't until our recent trip to the Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort that I was really struck by how 39 was, and is, different and significant.
So, this is 39 on vacation, or rather, what 39 looks like from my perspective.
39 is finally getting my act together enough to pack in advance and not run around like a crazy person moments before departure, for the first time ever.
Being this age means applying sunscreen often and wearing a long-sleeve rash guard, not because of appearance but because it offers the best sun protection. That matters because I've had skin cancer once, and you don’t want it to again.
39 also means ditching the rash guard during nonpeak sun hours to wear a bikini for the first time ever in my adult life. I did so for a myriad of reasons, including that I'm not getting any younger and body parts aren’t getting any perkier, that I want my daughter to feel comfortable in her own skin, and that although I may not be entirely there myself, I'm closer than I’ve ever been as an adult.
It is truly appreciating my husband's compliment and smile after I took off the cover up to reveal said bikini.
Vacation at this age is usually combined with some amount of work, and this trip was a mix of conference and family trip, meaning my ongoing quest for striking the right balance between work and family was now an international endeavor.
39 is checking my phone towards the end of a family dinner for conference meeting info and learning that a college friend, one of the 5 women with whom I spent spring break senior year, had died.
It means feeling the loss of the friend more than I anticipated I would and fighting tears, both because I was both sad at the loss and struck by the comforting hand pat from my daughter.
Vacation at this age means truly appreciating the swim up bar not only for the great boat drinks but also because of the peace of mind that comes from knowing no one is driving and everyone can get to “home” safely.
39 is enjoying that I don’t have to worry about my kid looking old enough to be served alcohol but knowing will likely change before our next trip.
It is realizing that my daughter’s friend just followed me on Instagram shortly after I posted a picture of my boat drink. (It really was a work of art and too pretty to not share.) I felt a bit sheepish, and then realized I'm of legal age and on vacation and perfectly within my rights to enjoy an adult beverage.
I never thought I’d be in a tropical paradise and debating in my head whether to make my account private or if it was a good way to gain insight into my daughter’s peers and influences.
Being this age means actually enjoying everyone in the family being in one hotel room because it offers a rare chance to hear the simultaneous deep, even breaths of my husband and daughter as they sleep and to absorb the peace of their easy slumber.
It also means hoping the child who sleep talks will offer up some clues about the parts of her life that she keeps separate from me now that she’s a teen.
It is hearing all about my daughter's experience at the tween and teen foam party and feeling happy for her. It’s wondering if you’ve ever been to a foam party, a split second of feeling jealous when you realize the answer is “no” which is quickly followed by relief that my evening was foam-free.
It is the realization that vacation no longer means spending every waking moment together and It’s feeling okay with her going off on her own, and feeling pride when she goes off to make a difference.
Being 39 on vacation means wondering on the return trip home if the family schedule will permit a return trip or if high school schedules will mean more time spent on bleachers and no time for wiggling toes in the sand, which makes you all the more grateful for the special vacation memories you just made.
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