Numbering my Days

I’m not typically a numbers person but I am trying to reassess that and play with some numbers outside of just calculating the times of my mile splits so…

I am publishing this on April 26, 2022. Less than a week before my 36th birthday. Let’s break that down a bit:

Days I’ve been alive: 13,144

Days I’ve been married: 3636- about 27% of my life.

Days I’ve been a mom: 2890- A little less than 22% of my life if you start counting from when my firstborn was Earthside… longer if you count the moment I found out I was pregnant. Over 1/5 of my life has now been spent as a mom.

I took a cue from one of my favorite podcasts and crunched some numbers on average lifespan and took some longevity estimate tests. On average, people living in America have about  30,000 days to live (granted I believe this is based on pre-pandemic data… so keep that in mind.) That’s approximately 82 years. According to estimates from the Social Security Administration they give me more like 85 years, other websites gave me questions about my current health practices and gave me estimates ranging from a more generous 89-95 years… (but that highest one tried to sell me something to improve my retirement fund so I find that particular number highly suspicious…) And of course all those estimates are assuming I remain in good health, that general livability and social structures remain the same, that I don’t get hit by a car tomorrow…

I have been thinking a lot about how early my husband lost his parents and how not a single extra day is guaranteed. But I’m not writing this to be morbid or bum you out on this spring day… I write this because even by the most generous assumptions, I am over 1/3 of the way through my life and I feel like I am speeding towards that mid-life point. The closer I get to each birthday each year the more keenly I am aware how lucky I am to add another year of life, to add more memories with my kids and other loved ones, to have the chance to put more art and goodness and laughter into the world and to say thank you even on the days that are clouded with anxiety or grief or confusion.

The more I think about how I want to spend the next 1/3-1/2 of my life, the more I want to be extra intentional about how I am living the days I have left. I keep thinking of the Bible verse, “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart” (Psalm 90:12)

If you are a visual learner, this post is one of the most impactful things I have ever seen and I return to it often. I highly recommend checking it out. It has been a strange thing looking at that cartoon for almost a decade and when I first looked I only saw it from the point of view of someone’s child realizing they have already spent most of the time they will get with their parents, and then in the past few years suddenly starting to look at it as a parent who knows this day will come with their own children and because of that I desperately want to make my time with them count before they move out of our shared home. I try to remember this when alone time or date nights are in short supply- when circumstances dictate that we will be having adventures together as a family that I might otherwise have chosen to have alone and it allows me to see that ending up spending that extra time with our littles is not a bad thing. Our time together will seem so short in the long run, even though the days (and in particular the nights thanks to 2 year molars) seem very very long right now.

All of this also reminds me a lot of what the amazing author Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote as she turned 40, assuming she might live until 80: “How many more times, then, do I get to look at a tree? Let’s just say it’s 12,395. Absolutely, that’s a lot, but it’s not infinite, and I’m thinking anything less than infinite is too small a number and not satisfactory. At the very least, I want to look at trees a million more times. Is that too much to ask?” (And, harsh reality moment, she didn’t get until 80, she died at 51.) I think about this a ton, especially when I get to hike my favorite trails and see them in new ways, when I pass my favorite trees on a neighborhood run, etc. I think about it in terms of things not found in nature too- how many red velvet cupcakes or Suns games do I get to experience? How many Easter masses seeing the church suddenly crowded with lilies after a long stark Lent? How many early morning cups coffee coffee brought to me in bed by the sweetest husband? And on a non-existential, non-whole life note- how many bedtime stories do I have left  before my kids are staying up past, me finishing homework the way I did in high school? How many pretend tea parties will I be invited to?  Do we ever get enough? I’m not sure. Even with all my hormonal brain chemistry struggles with anxiety  I am still pretty greedy for life.

The only thing I can cling to is that I know it feels like we get a little bit longer when I am intentional and pay attention, or when I slow down and give in to awe…. or when I am running a particularly difficult mile… (one of my favorite race signs I’ve ever seen said “make life seem longer- run a marathon…” and the same phenomenon seems to happen when trying to hold a plank… the minutes seem to go on and on then but yowza that gets painful!)

So as I approach this new year of life, I am trying to take more mental pictures of moments I want to remember, I am working on making the days count, having fun, cherishing people, and I will have plenty of practice with making time expand by trying to train for my first (and honestly probably ONLY) marathon while working to make a difference by helping kids around the world! Lofty goals, but life goes fast, so what am I waiting for?!

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