Earlier this month I celebrated my birthday; I feel lucky to have been able to do so. In fact, I love that I’m growing older. Truly. I don’t remember ever dreading a birthday and as I inch my way closer to a new decade, I feel at peace, happy and fortunate. There’s much to celebrate as we age: personal growth, clearer priorities accompanied by a greater understanding of life, and increased self-appreciation, to name a few. So while I want to savor the daily life I’m granted, I am also not afraid to let time pass as nature requires it to.

Here are a few of the reasons why I raise my champagne glass and say, “Yes, it’s my birthday!”

I am living. Enough said, right? In all seriousness though, there are many who don’t make it to see half the age I am fortunate enough to celebrate. And while this saddens me deeply, it’s a powerful reminder to celebrate being alive. Loss of a young life is a heart-wrenching reminder that this year, like every year of life, is one to celebrate. #CelebrateAgingCelebrateLife

My fine lines. They’re mine, all mine! There’s nothing in this world that is more mine than my body. And why should I not celebrate what my body has done and become as I’ve aged? Each one of my fine lines is a reminder that I’ve lived, I’ve experienced, I’ve achieved. As I inspect my face in the mirror, I’m reminded that I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown older. Although in my late twenties I feared the IDEA of a wrinkle, with age I’ve grown more appreciative of what aging represents. I no longer chase the newest anti-aging regimen. I no longer worry about whether my skin will bounce back as it used to. Because I know it won’t and that’s okay. Sure, I drink lots of water, use sun screen and moisturize daily, but I’m not looking to Botox to make me happy. Speaking of…

I’ve learned to be happy (most of the time). There’s something poignant about waking on your birthday, reflecting on your life and feeling like you’re not where you’re supposed to be. I’ve struggled with that a lot, and not just on my birthday. As a college junior studying in Madrid I had immense hopes for my professional future as an international diplomat. I felt like I not only could, but would, conquer the world. Like truly anything I dreamt for myself, I’d achieve. Sometimes I think back to the young ambitious woman I was and proudly think, “You go girl! There’s really nothing you can’t do!” I love that I felt that way – I was fearless and bold. And although there have been many unachieved dreams, there are many more which have come to be, and it’s good for me to appreciate and reflect on the great fortune I’ve had. My life today does not look like what I pictured while in graduate school and that too is okay because what I have today is much more than what I dared to dream in my twenties.

My body. Sure, it’s not what it was at 21. Or 26. Or even at 31. But boy, it has done some pretty amazing things. It’s allowed me to give birth twice to two healthy and lovely little people it grew. It has given me the strength to train rigorously for fitness competitions, marathons and zumbathons. It’s been my constant companion and I feel indebted to it. Even when I critiqued it and wished it to look differently, it didn’t falter. It’s been good to me in more ways I can count and I thank my lucky stars for that each day. In many respects my body of today – that of a mom of two, transformed by age, childbirth, breastfeeding, and the toils of motherhood – is far stronger and far more beautiful than the pristine one I walked in as a college senior.

PS: I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t contemplated a breast lift {45 months of nursing will change those perky B-cups of your twenties}, but I still love what I’ve got.

And by far the reason I’ll welcome each birthday with open arms…

Each year represents more time with my children. This is one of those things I never thought about as a young adult, before I brought life into this world. But now, I think about it every single day: on the really good days which I could live over and over again and on the really challenging days when I want to take a time out in the pantry with some dark chocolate as my only companion. I know each passing moment is one I’ll never regain, so I want to do my best to appreciate each day I have with my babies. I ache at the thought of not being around to see them proudly graduate from elementary school, learn to navigate the rough waters of middle school or head off to college after a successful four years in high school. I hope to be in their lives to celebrate the special moments of their adulthood, to provide comfort, love and assurance as they make difficult decisions, and to welcome them and their future families into a warm and loving home whenever they choose.

So, consider me pro-aging and bring on the birthdays, please, along with full-fledged wrinkles, salt and pepper hair, and 100 candles on my birthday cake!

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