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I promise I’ll stop using those words soon.

Part of what I want to do here is write about what this feels like, being a mother, particularly the unexpected stuff that goes along with it. I think my thing right now is that I’m trying to express in some way what it feels like to be on the other side of young.

A friend of my husband’s is dating a woman who is 17 years younger than he is. I don’t have a problem with that at all. I am totally in favor of that. She’s my people.

But I’ve been really uncomfortable about it in this specific instance and it didn’t take me long to figure out that it’s because it made me realize that I’m not that woman anymore. That door started closing very slowly and quietly the day we were married and shut once and for all once our son was born. I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t hear it. When you first have a kid, there is a complete disruption of life and it’s hard to say which changes are temporary and which are permanent. And then it gradually normalizes. But some things don’t come back and when the dust settles and you see what remains and what doesn’t it can be a bit unnerving. The feeling of those years is one of those things that is gone forever.

I never thought I’d be nostalgic for my 20s because I didn’t enjoy that time overall. But there’s something about years 28 and 29 for a woman. It’s a sweet spot. You’re old enough to be over the insecure years, you’re on your way to something in terms of personal fulfillment, you’re pretty and you know what works, you know what you want, you are probably having some really great sex, and the world is fucking yours. If you’re not close to self-actualization at that point, you can at least see it on the horizon. And I think part of the power of it is the fact that you don’t fully realize it at the time, nor do you realize that it will end someday. Or maybe you do, but there’s knowing and there’s knowing.

When I was 28 I daydreamed about having the life I have now. And now at 34 I am reminded of being 28. Having moved through those six years and come out the other side of motherhood, I would never, ever go back. These years are not my young ones, but they are the best ones.

Photo credit: Ana Teresa Barboza

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