Depending on your age “milestone birthday” evokes a different reaction. A twenty year old on the verge of a legal trip to the bar likely feels more jovial that a thirty-nine and three-quarter year old.

My personal experience with milestone birthdays has been free of notable drama. At eighteen I lived with my mom while attending community college, nothing changed. On my twenty-first I went to the liquor store as a rite of passage and wasn’t asked to show I.D.¬† Twenty-five was a little tricky for me, since I just wasn’t where I thought I should be in life. Despite being with my now husband and enjoying school I felt like a failure since I was not married and still in school. Thirty was much easier, although it is hard to let go of being a twenty-something, even if it ends in nine. Life rolls along and before I know it I’m forty. Not a big deal, as long as I don’t contemplate my life likely being half over.

The milestone birthday that stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears? My one and only child’s sixth birthday. I realize that six isn’t commonly considered a milestone birthday. One yes. Five yes. Six? Oh yes, six is a milestone. The fact that by turning six one third of his childhood is gone makes me incredibly sad. The innocent, hand holding, needing momma days are coming to a close at a frightening speed. Where had those precious years escaped to?

This is one of the instances where having an only child makes me painfully aware of the moment. I won’t get another shot. My baby is growing up and I can feel the grains of sand slipping out of the hourglass. Ironically, I didn’t always love the younger years. I often felt I wasn’t very good at being a mom. Not patient enough. Not enough in general many days. But when it hit me that my job as a hands-on mom was a third done it broke my heart a bit.

A friend of ours, twenty years our senior, recently asked me how our son was liking school. He reflected on how he could still remember standing at the bus stop with his daughter when she was in first grade. Then he paused and said, “and now I’m in my sixties and she has her master’s degree. It goes by in a blink kiddo.” But much like I can’t allow myself to linger on the brink of a mid-life crisis I can’t let the sadness rob me of the joy today holds.

I love road trips. Especially ones with my husband when there is good music, lively conversation, and beef jerky. It occurred to me over this past weekend as we drove on some favorite roads along the St. Croix River, that life is like a road trip. The destination is of utmost importance, but it is best not to be in a rush to arrive. The journey is to be savored with close companions and snacks. Birthdays are like the mile markers you pass by – sometimes you notice the number and other times you’re completely unaware. I spent aportion of this last year thinking I was a year older than I am.¬† Scenic overviews are the milestone birthdays, take a moment to pause, enjoy the view from that spot, but don’t stay too long – there is no overnight parking. There are miles ahead of you, new experiences to be had, so keep moving.

Birthdays, regardless of the year are to be celebrated. Mine is today. It began with a little boy whispering I love you and singing happy birthday. He even let me hold his hand on the way to the bus stop and that was the best gift I could’ve gotten today. I doubt I have many birthdays left that will hold such sweetness, so I’m sure thankful for this one. Time is passing, life is happening. The cliche of today being a gift and tomorrow not being promised¬† – both are true. Fill your days with who and what you love!