39. My last birthday as a thirty-something. Embarrassingly - and very unexpectedly - I awoke feeling really sad.
Not for the obvious ''What do I have to show for my 39 years?'' or ''I haven't accomplished what I'd set out to'' - having four kids truly makes me feel more blessed than I'd ever thought possible. My sadness seems to be rooted in a deep nostalgia - a grieving that the past has passed, never to return. Despite my awareness and belief that there is still so much to be experienced.
My sadness is making me feel guilty. Ungrateful. At least I've made it thus far. So many people, who had been my age, didn't - Faghmi Smith, Gary May, Gadija Abbas etc.
I think back to my 20s. A period in my life when stupidity ruled the day; when bad decisions were made, the wrong people trusted. Yet, a time still filled with so much hope and (often misplaced) faith in others. Intense emotions - a spillover from my delayed adolescence. Happiness. Sadness. Hope. So much hope.
From my 20s to my mid-30s - wasting so much time thinking about what I should have done, could have done - instead of seizing the day there and then. Spending too much time caring about what others were thinking of me, saying about me - instead of spending every precious second savouring, capturing and revelling in my time with my babies. Moments lost - never to be retrieved.
My mid-30s - a HUGE epiphany. An ugly, rude awakening - resulting in a spiritual and emotional journey which taught me to survive grief and sadness by taking the time to appreciate, to savour and to enjoy every blessing granted by the Almighty.
Blessings comprised of the little things - thoughtfulness on the part of Mo, an unexpected hug and kiss from the Shakeel (13) a heartwarming note of love and appreciation from Tharaa (10), a goodbye/ hello kiss from Nuha (7) during which she has to be pried away from me or giggles and kisses from Aisha (2).
Craziness on the part of the kids - like this morning when I stood in the driveway to see them off, the car doors were simultaneously flung open, as the occupants leaned out and delivered a loud (and rather drunken-sounding) rendition of ''Happy Birthday to you''. Or Shakeel's birthday card in which he pasted pictures of my family and loved ones - of Mo posing beardlessly, of him (Shakeel) holding a newborn Aisha, of Tharaa pulling a funny face, of Nuha smiling sweetly - and of Michael Jackson doing a signature Michael Jackson pose. They really know how to make me smile.
Already I'm feeling better and more contented. (Making sense of one's emotions by writing them down is one of the benefits of blogging). Not even a grumpy Aisha yelling and screaming, ''It's MY birthday, not mommy's!'' will disturb my peace of mind or minimise my gratitude for my 39 years of blessings.