I remember someone telling me once that she didn’t begin feeling comfortable in her own skin until she was thirty. Thirty! I wish I could remember who said this to me, because I can assure you the reason I recall the comment is not that I thought it was wisdom-filled. Rather, it was categorized in my mind under “Things I hope I can prove wrong with time.” Because, for starters, thirty was old. How was a person supposed to have a good life if they didn’t even feel comfortable until they were past their prime?
The fact that I thought this means it was probably when I was about 21. So for the past 10 years, I’ve asked myself: are you comfortable yet? Is this skin feeling good?
The trouble is, the kind of comfortable that person was talking about is like the difference between pushing an umbrella stroller and gliding effortlessly along with a BOB. For our second sweet baby, we were the lucky recipients of one of these amazing strollers, and let me tell you: I did not know good stroller-pushing until I got my hands on one of those! Some friends were babysitting their friend’s son, and he came with everything a modern baby could hope for, including coordinated travel system and, of course, a BOB. Since it was right in front of me and I was already in my baby-having years, I thought I’d just see what all the hype was about. And the hype? It was about lives and perspectives changing with one buttery-smooth push on this ridiculously expensive stroller. Was my cheap little stroller working? Sure. Was it comfortable to push? Well, I thought so until I felt the difference.
I guess that’s what I felt tonight when I was standing at the sink. My husband is in the final weeks of cramming/studying for some little exam, so I am carrying a bit more than my usual share of the dishes. And laundry. Etc. So I was thinking about this, how my night has mostly been making food and then cleaning up kids who were dirty after eating that food, then getting the dishes situation back under control from the cooking. It hasn’t exactly been an exciting night around here. Which is what made me think about being comfortable. I can remember nights exactly like this early in our marriage, and they felt hard, like everyone else was out having a good time and I was chained to housework via a pretty ring and some promises. Tonight, though, I didn’t need to use any positive self-talk to convince myself that this was a good night, too. I just sort of knew. Even though my attitude still needs work sometimes and I don’t automatically love doing dishes, I noticed tonight the absence of a familiar feeling. I can only describe it as what a horse must feel when they’re pulling against a bit and reigns. Like everything wants something different and my whole being is straining against the now. But that was gone.
Now, I might just be having a good day, and maybe tomorrow I’ll resent mundane things like housework, but I think I know what she meant about thirty. It didn’t happen magically on my birthday, but I’m pretty sure it’s been coming on for a decade. I am not straining and hurting for a version of my life that only exists in my imagination. I feel: comfortable. As me. In my own skin.