When my son turned 6, he was incredibly excited about the concept of “leveling up.” It was something he clearly understood since he loves video games and is super, duper into numbers.
So naturally, when I was creeping up on my 40th birthday, he was very interested. “You’re turning level 40!” he’d exclaim, whether we were at home, or out in public, with nothing short of loud glee and enthusiasm. He would tell me many, many times a day. (I don’t know if you’ve spent much time around an autistic child, but there tends to be a fair amount of repeating things). And every time I would smile and try to respond with something along the lines of “I am! Isn’t that cool?” Or I’d agree and tell him how hard I worked to get to level 40.
Now, I could have been honest about how I really felt initially, not thrilled about getting older, lamenting my changing body, and worrying about what being a woman in her 40s was going to look like for me. But I didn’t. It was the first time he’s really shown a targeted interest in me, (or his father who was also coming up on a birthday) and I couldn’t bear to disappoint him with any kind of negative response. First of all, he’d never understand why I wasn’t happy about my level up but cheered for his and his father’s. How could any child? It doesn’t make sense. And second, I absolutely didn’t want to discourage him from his beautiful attempts at connection with us.
Do you know what happens when you repeat something out loud over and over again every day for weeks? You start to believe it. It became more genuine when I’d say “heck yeah I’m turning 40, I earned it.” Because it’s true. We all work really hard to get from one year to the next, and while we had no say in our births and getting to this Earth, we sure have had to do all the work to make it to the next birthday.
Aging doesn’t always feel the best, it definitely comes with its own pitfalls, just like every other phase of a human’s life. But as we say in our house, it sure as hell beats the alternative. Maybe try to think about that the next time you get a little sad and feel down about getting older, or dread an approaching birthday. You earned this level up, you worked hard for it and you deserve to celebrate it. Birthdays are a beautiful accomplishment that many aren’t so blessed to experience. So, love your level-ups, you winner, you.
Read the rest of the newsletter here where you will find a word search, fun facts, a relaxing paint video, and Tristan graces us with an AI prayer, an important announcement about the Semper Bellum podcast, and much more!