This is thirty eight


I loved our This is Childhood series this winter.  I loved writing This Is Ten about my first child, my pioneer, my grace, my Grace.

I keep thinking of things that describe my now, and thought I would write my own grown-up version.

So: this is thirty eight.

Thirty eight is solidly in the middle of my life.  Thirty eight is realizing that there are likely as many years behind me as there are ahead.  It is acknowledging that life is no longer a green field, that certain doors are closed, that some choices are irrevocable, and that many of the big what-ifs that haunted my childhood have been answered.  Thirty eight is also realizing that despite these answers, there are far, far more new questions.

Thirty eight is new lines at the sides of my eyes and mouth.  From smiling, maybe, but still.

Thirty eight is wearing my wedding ring all the time though my engagement ring rarely.  Thirty eight is not knowing which band was my wedding band and which my husband gave me on the day our daughter was born, because they are identical.  I don’t think it matters.  Thirty eight is wearing my mother’s wedding ring for a time, when she was unable to.  Thirty eight is knowing that one of my favorite pictures from our long-ago wedding shows that I wore my grandmother’s ring on my right hand when I walked down the aisle.

Thirty eight is realizing that certain shorts and skirts are now just too short.  Thirty eight is wondering if this is the summer to put away the bikinis.

Thirty eight is thirteen years of marriage.  It is knowing all the ways that marriage is both less and more than I thought it was, when I walked into a church wearing white and hearing thunder.  Less score-keeping, less candlelight, less drama.  More small acts of kindness, more forgiveness, more abiding.  Fewer flowers, but more cups of coffee made exactly how I like them, without being asked, brought to me in bed in the morning.

Thirty eight is realizing that my lifetime passion for peonies probably has something to do with their life span, which is as short as it is spectacular.  It can’t be an accident that I love best of all the flowers that blaze more brightly and most briefly.

Thirty eight is not having any more grandparents.  It is hearing about the illness and death of my friends’ parents.  It is going to funerals, and also christenings, more often than weddings.  Thirty eight was leaving my injured mother’s side before surgery a couple of years ago to run home to my daughter, who was crying that I wasn’t spending enough time with her.  Thirty eight is the middle place.

Thirty eight is knowing who your friends are, for real, for certain.  It is understanding that though there will be a small handful of true native speakers, it is okay for many friends to access only certain parts of you.  These friendships, while different, can offer great joy, deep laughter, and tremendous companionship.  Thirty eight is still learning that not everybody will like you, no matter what you do.

Thirty eight is drinking homemade green juice and Diet Coke most days.  It is developing a taste for kombucha, and drinking coffee with coconut milk and xylitol.  It is drinking wine still, but not as much, because I’d rather sleep and I’ve realized that alcohol interferes with that.

Thirty eight is finding that each year she grows more sensitive, more aware of life’s beauty and pain, more attuned to the world around her.  Thirty eight cries every single day, and laughs that much too (see: lines on my face).

Thirty eight is in the heart of the grand love affair that is motherhood, both smitten by and exasperated by her daughter and son. Thirty eight is watching, awestruck, as these children develop into people in whom bloom traits uncomfortably familiar and absolutely foreign in equal measure.  Thirty eight reads Harry Potter aloud, packs lunches, drives to and from soccer and hockey and baseball practices and games (see photo), plans surprise adventure outings, and can still make a bruised knee feel better with a kiss.

Thirty eight is its own kind of phosphorescence.  Different than ten’s ephemeral incandescence, but no less dazzling and no less fleeting.  Just like ten, just like life itself, thirty eight is bewilderingly beautiful, maddeningly confusing, achingly bittersweet, and vanishingly transient.


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  1. Posted June 12, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Oh gosh I love this. I loved 38. Currently 44 is kind of sucking big time. 😉

    admin Reply:

    I am sorry to hear that! Hope 44 turns it around … xo

  2. Kathryn
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Love love love this. I am right here with you! (Although I suppose I’m now 39!)

    admin Reply:

    Yes, old lady :) xoxo

  3. Posted June 12, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Beautiful Lindsey! So well written and loving. I have struggled with 40 this year, and this reminded me that fortunately at this stage in my life I have gained a lot of wisdom and lost a lot of drama. Thank you.

    admin Reply:

    Thank YOU. Really appreciate hearing that. xo

  4. Posted June 12, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I turned 38 this year too! For me, it’s realizing how much younger I look in those wedding pictures (from 11 years ago now!). Though I like to think of myself as only about a third of the way through life right now {even though I know that doesn’t quite work mathematically… 40 will be midlife!). Beautiful post (again!)

    admin Reply:

    I will actually turn 39 in August!
    I thought of myself in midlife starting at 35 (also when Jung says middle age starts!)
    Thanks for your comment. Love knowing of others alongside me.

  5. Posted June 12, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    So, so lovely. Makes me wonder what I would write about 29 (where I am right now).

    admin Reply:

    I would love to read that …

  6. Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I love your reflections here. I feel much of the same as I step into the dichotomy that is life, every single day. xo

    admin Reply:

    Indeed. Every single day. xox

  7. Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Wow. You once again blow me away. Beautiful. For what it’s worth, for me there hasn’t been much difference between 38 and 46, but that’s because my kids are young and I don’t have a spouse, but you write so beautifully about being in the middle of life caring for youngsters and aging parents while your own mind and body are both changing and settling in. I always love how beautifully and simply you seem to capture such complex emotions. LOVED this!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much! xoxo

  8. Deb
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    This is beautiful! I’m 35 but can relate to every last word. Love!

    admin Reply:

    I am glad to hear it. Thank you. xox

  9. Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    This was beautiful! I enjoyed reading it. :)
    I turned 37 this year! The last line… perfect.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. xox

  10. Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Beautifully captured thoughts here. At 35 I can relate to many of your experiences, but some are still on the horizon for me. I think what’s most beautiful is that you chose to acknowledge a non-milestone age. We all spend the majority of our lives moving between milestones, so I find the documentation of those in-between phases to be woefully overlooked. Thanks for this lovely reflection. (And I love that Matt brings you coffee in bed each morning, and that you recognize how very sweet that is.)

    admin Reply:

    Well, it’s not EVERY morning … but it’s nice when he does it! :) xox

  11. Posted June 12, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Love this, Lindsey. I’ll join you in the ranks of thirty eight just over a week from now. Some similarities, some differences, all of which remind me that thirty eight is a good year–regardless of the circumstances that surround us, because just being here at all is really something to be proud of (for me, anyway). And that makes me want to notice the little and big things about life that make it worth being here for.

    I can SO relate about marriage… “Fewer flowers, but more cups of coffee made exactly how I like them, without being asked, brought to me in bed in the morning.” I’m marveling because as I read this, my wife was walking out of the bedroom after having dropped off a perfectly made cup of coffee to me.

    Thank you for the reminder of how meaningful life is by sharing yours so beautifully. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. Love imagining us drinking our coffee, brought to us by our beloveds … xox

  12. Brooke
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I’m a 70+admirer, who knows you will love reading this when you are 76.
    Thank you for all the smiles and tears reading your blog have brought me.
    You constantly remind me to be mindful.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate hearing that you’re reading and that my words are resonating. xox

  13. Posted June 12, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    All around lovely. You tell such a beautiful story — the peonies bit was my favorite!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you!! I’m looking at some right now as I write … but already mourning their inevitable passing, which has already begun. xo

  14. Posted June 12, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, loved this so much. I turn 40 in a few months and you, once again, offer so much to reflect upon. Thank you.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much for saying that. I appreciate it. xox

  15. H
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Not sure I have ever read anything with which I resonated more than your line with “the grand affair…of motherhood”.
    Thank you for these words!

    admin Reply:

    Oh, thank you. I so appreciate your saying that. xox

  16. Posted June 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I’m 38 too, Lindsey. You’ve captured it perfectly. I feel neither old nor young. Not at the beginning or the end. Aware of the fragility of life, but not afraid of it.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! Love knowing that we’re moving through this great adventure at the same time. xox

  17. Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ve championed the thirties…all eight of them so far. I find I like myself more and more, so I’m anticipating that what Oprah says about the 40s and 50s are going to be true. Fingers crossed. Thanks for a stunning post.

    admin Reply:

    I hope you’re right, too. I suspect maybe you are. xox

  18. Robin
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    WOW — this is the first time I’ve read your blog, and I’ve never read anything that rang more true. I’ll be 38 this year, and I’m going to print this now and post it on my fridge. Amazingly true for me, down to my soul

    (I have a son and daughter too, but younger…4.5 and 2.5…no sports practices — yet).

    admin Reply:

    I’m really grateful that you commented – and glad to know you’re reading. And that you are alongside me, in age and in family make-up! Don’t worry, those sports practices will come VERY soon … :) xox

  19. Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I love this. I have always had a fascination with watching those around me who are just a few years ahead of where I am (maybe because I’m not a very good “five year plan” type of person -ha). In high school I peeked on college and wondered about it; in my early twenties I’d watch engaged and young married couples with awe. Before babies, I took mental notes on pregnant friends, and now with young ones at home and the very beginnings of a writing career I look at a handful of wise women around me and imagine life like theirs in a few years. So you being five years older than me, with a marriage five years older than mine, and an oldest child also five years older than my own, allows me to peek ahead at 38. Mine will look different, of course, but I appreciate the glimpse. And your lovely words, always. :) -Sarah

    admin Reply:

    I certainly hope you aren’t lumping me in there with the wise women … because I’m not. But I’m happy to provide some glimpse of the view, five years on! It’s pretty lovely. xox

  20. Joan
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Lovely post. “I feel neither old nor young”. . . I will be 57 next week and this is exactly how I feel. After reading this piece I decided part of my birthday will be spent reflecting on 57. Thank you.

    admin Reply:

    I hope you find great riches when you do that. I’m sure you will. xox

  21. Posted June 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    38 sounds good! A wonderful reflection :)

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! xo

  22. Michelle
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I am 39. Would not trade it for 29! determined to not dread 4-0!!!!!!

    admin Reply:

    I am determined not to dread it either … here we go!

  23. Posted June 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I love this. I turned 40 in April and have been thinking about writing something similar but it has felt too big. This is perfect. While I relate to so much of this, the one that has appeared in my life suddenly is the fact that wine keeps me awake at night. How unfair is that!?

    admin Reply:

    I KNOW. It is one of the things that is the most unfair!

  24. Posted June 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m 38 now too, and there’s so much in this post which I recognize. Thank you.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, fellow traveler – thank you, thank you. xox

  25. Lizzie
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    This post was so moving. Reading your words makes me feel so much emotion, and frankly, connected. I adore your writing!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate hearing that. xox

  26. Posted June 13, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    I’m right there with you (40 in September.) The last line is sublime. Says it all for me.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, happy to know of a fellow born-in-the-70s parent out there. Thank you for saying that – so glad you relate. xox

  27. Eileen
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    This is so beautifully written and very touching to read. We are the same age and many of your eloquently stated thoughts resonate with me. I can particularly relate to your paragraph on friendships and how we gain greater clarity in our relations with others as we age. I found you through the comments section of Erin Gate’s blog, and I am so glad I did!

    admin Reply:

    Oh, thank you! I’m so glad to hear that we’re the same age and that you can relate. I love Erin and her blog – glad you came over! xox

  28. rachel michelson
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, You are such a gift. I relate to SO much of what you say–is so wise. At 38, can’t say i’m feeling this wise. Thank you. You make me want to be a better, vulnerable person.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. What an incredibly generous thing to say. I don’t think I’m wise … I’m just telling my story, as I hope we all will. Believe me, I fall down all the time! xox

  29. Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    This is stunning, Lindsey. I find this stage of life inspires so much introspection and reflection, and it is becoming clear to me why people are stricken with “mid-life crises!” You really captured this beautifully.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. Yes, yes, introspection and reflection. Absolutely true. And, at least for me, no small degree of melancholy.

  30. Posted June 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Feeling inspired to write “this is 48.”

    And about the bikini: Wear it as long as you can. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. In my 30s, I was too quick to give up some things. I can see that now in retrospect, and I wish I’d hung onto them a bit longer.

    admin Reply:

    I shall take a deep breath and wear my bikini this summer. And please do write this is 48. I look forward to reading it!!

  31. Posted June 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Yes, about the peonies! It sounds like you are in a good place. Happy Birthday!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! My birthday is in August – but is coming towards me at lightning speed. xox

  32. Posted June 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    We should all do this and every year to see how our perspective changes! My favourite part: Fewer flowers, but more cups of coffee made exactly how I like them, without being asked, brought to me in bed in the morning.

    admin Reply:

    That’s what romance looks like, at least for me, right now! xox

  33. Patty
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I remember 38, you’ve captured it JUST so perfectly! :-)

    Now at 63, still feeling such feelings and yet so much more!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much! xox

  34. Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Wow – just wow! I am so inspired by this post and thrilled to have come across your blog through Aidan’s FB shout-out…

    I always searched for who I was – what I was supposed to “be” at the very core – and life handed me the answer over three years ago with the birth of my son and all of the tragedy, love, fear, growth, questions, pain, joy, tears, triumph and strength that came along with him.

    It is still a role I am learning, and with it I was shown what I wanted to be when I grew up – the best version of “me” I could.

    It looks as though you have already mastered that life lesson…

    admin Reply:

    I assure you, I have mastered NOTHING. I’m so glad you commented – I went to your blog and read several posts and your loneliness post felt familiar, and I realized I had read (and loved) it last week! Small circular world … For what it’s worth I think there is great richness and story even in the moments that ARE “normal” – there’s texture even in that, I think. I hope you’ll keep sharing it. xox

  35. Z
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Today is my birthday – I am 36!
    I love my bdays, always loved celebrating and making a big deal. This year was no different.
    You have captured it all so perfectly – some shorts r just too short, put away the bikinis, less candlelight, less drama, little gestures that make all the difference… True friendship, deep laughter, motherhood, the infectious laughter of children… Peonies…
    It was a perfectly written piece. I’m right here with you. Felt the complete connection. Love it. Very fitting to read it on my bday!
    To many more…

    admin Reply:

    Happy, happy, happy birthday!! xoxox

  36. Posted June 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I turn 38 in two months, and I am every bit as you have said here. Except for the peonies. Tulips for me :-)

    Gorgeous, Lindsey. And perfect.

  37. Posted June 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I love this and it makes me wish I some thing like it in a journal every few years of my life to capture that time.

  38. Laura
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I love this, thank you. I had a hard time turning 38 this year, you’ve put into words many of things I felt but couldn’t quite articulate. You’ve given me more to think about.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. It means a lot to know you are relate. xoxo

  39. Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Such a lovely, moving post. Thank you, Lindsey.

    admin Reply:

    Thank YOU. xox

  40. Amy
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Thank you for such a lovely and accurate description! I’ll be 40 next month. Accepting the changes in the psychological landscape but the physical ones are harder (why does my back ONLY feel good if I do yoga the night before?!).

    I’ve also come to terms with “It is understanding that though there will be a small handful of true native speakers, it is okay for many friends to access only certain parts of you.” It’s a bit lonely, since the native speakers aren’t always close by and I’m learning to be OK with that.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, yes, and yes. Lonely for sure. I am often lonely. Even when surrounded by people. But finally I think I understand why, which does help, at least a bit. xoxo

  41. Leah
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    The thing that has been surprising for me about this age is how it’s not all building on things I thought I had figured out. There’s been some ripping out of foundations and starting over, internally, even though externally I’ve been on a steady course.

    (Hi Lindsey! Classmate of mine from so long ago–you are the reason I always thought “Lindsay” was the wrong spelling.)

    admin Reply:

    Hi!!! Small world! And yes, Lindsay IS the wrong spelling :) (so glad to have helped teach you that important point).

    Agree entirely – some of the foundations that I thought were the most solid have, in fact, been totally ripped out.

  42. Mary
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    I am consistently inconsistent with social media, however, this evening I happened to be skimming FB with no real purpose and then came across this post. It rang so true with me – especially today! As I spent the morning in the basement of my high school picking out old uniforms to hang on to before a wrecking ball will make the place history, a swirl of thoughts ran through my head. The first of which was that I never would have thought that my life experiences in the last 20 years would have led me back to this basement. This was kind of a grown-up turning point. Thinking about where I’ve been, but even more about my husband & two kids, and where I am going. You articulated what I was feeling today at this juxtaposition age-38. P.S. I also agree about the peonies. The peonies that line the side of my house are in full bloom and are a reminder to enjoy all the little moments of bloom in my life.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, thank you so much for this comment. I’m grateful to know that this spoke to you. And what an outrageously poignant moment, in the basement of your school – wow. Incredible. I’m often struck by how it is really just one big circle, at least for me. I’m sure it’s not an accident that the lines I am most often sent from people who read this blog are TS Eliot’s from Little Gidding : “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time.”

  43. Posted June 15, 2013 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    I hope 38 is tender on herself.

    admin Reply:

    Not a great strength, no… as you know! xox

  44. Posted June 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Oh Linds, I loved this post! Even though I’m 41, I think all of the years that hover around 40 have made me reflect the way you did in this post. No longer are the sands of time something in the far off distance, you know? I keep wondering, “Am I living the life I’m supposed to live?” and “What if I realize I’m not and it’s too late?”

    Getting older does mean getting wiser (totally get your revelation about wine) but it also brings up bouts of panic as I want to make sure I don’t muck up the time I have left.

    Love the pic, by the way. You may be the best dressed baseball mom I “know”. :)

  45. Posted June 17, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    OMG how did I miss this last week?? This is unbelievable, how you have captured life – 38 – in these few words. I am in tears about the rings, the peonies, the coffee. Thank you for this.

  46. Posted June 17, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    So so glad you wrote this post! I recall a twitter convo somewhere about this and you could not have made it lovelier. Thanks, Lindsey. I am 34, but I so relate. xox

  47. Posted June 19, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I loved this post. So much that I couldn’t stop thinking about it and finally wrote a list of my own: This is 30.

    Thank you!


  48. Posted June 21, 2013 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    A friend shared this on FB, and I had to click over. I am 34. Most of this I get. At 34 I feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel strong. Young enough to rock it still, old enough to ache when I do.=) It is a great age. More settled than the 20s. Stay 29 forever? Not me! How about 34?=)
    Thanks for a great read!

    admin Reply:

    Thank YOU. 34 is a great age indeed! xo

  49. Posted June 24, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    We are the same age. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your beautiful summarizing of your experience…aging has been a bit of a struggle for me, I have only just decided how lovely it really is.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much for commenting. I love hearing from others who are the same age – “vintage” – as me. And I’m glad to know that you can relate. xox

  50. Posted July 8, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Oh my gosh, I just love this post… so thoughtful and poignant. When I read this last month, I was about to turn 38 myself, and feeling a bit heavy about it all. How did a decade go so fast, from getting married at 28 and now, here nearly 38… Time confounds me and milestones immerse me in nostalgia, which makes me weepy and full. Reading this made me pause and feel less lonesome, knowing everyone feels the depth of time and loss of it. I am planning my own version soon, so thank you very much for the inspiration and this gorgeous blog.

    admin Reply:

    I’m so glad you commented – I love hearing of others who are at the same lifestage as I am (38) and I’m also so glad to have found your marvelous blog. Thank you! I look forward to reading your This is 38. xox

  51. Tammy Clark
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I became a mother for the first time at 38… This still applies to life at 48 :)

    admin Reply:

    I am glad to hear that. Both! xox

  52. Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Your post was very meaningful to me as I recently celebrated my 38. I actually wrote my own version but borrowed most of your words- attributions to you were properly made of course :)

  53. Posted October 20, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, this is awesome. Such an inspiration. I decided to give it a go on behalf of my 8-months old son!

  54. heather phillips
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    I love your website. Thank you for sharing your insight and heart with us all.

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