When Your Baby Turns 35 – and you don’t like it

By: Peggy Willm

(5 min read)

My first-born son is turning 35. WTH. I still feel 35. How can he be 35? THIRTY FIVE. Why is his birthday bothering me, you ask?

As a teenager, I knew I wanted to move away, get a degree, and have a successful career. But I also had vivid visions of being married forever and raising four sons. I knew God’s design would play out. I had two sons and a miscarriage…close.

I became young mother at 21, and I wanted it that way. Shane was my first born. Our connection is, as the cliché goes, two birds of a feather, flock together. We know we are each other’s ride or die. Our two greatest skills are we truly listen to each other, and we know when to agree to disagree.

Yet, as similar as we are, we are also very different. Ying and Yang one might say. He is more introverted. If you know me, I clearly am not. Have you ever seen one of my Happy Hour videos? He internalizes, rationalizes, and game plays every single decision of his life “in his head.” I use spreadsheets, whiteboards and run my mouth about my thoughts and to work out scenarios. I am not “in my head.” He is calculated and hates change. I am more spontaneous. He is not fond of social events or crowds. In my day, I was the leader of the pack – let’s go! His artistry is drawing and painting. Mine is with words. He is an adrenaline junky; excelled in motocross and supercross for decades. Though he does despise heights and flying. Me, “fly- where to?” He is beyond allergic to social media or anyone impeding in his life unwelcomed. His last social media platform was MySpace. I am not joking. Me, well. Here I am. We both love music, but his entire body shudders if you mention dancing. He’s never danced. He likes meat. My response: Eeew.  

As oil and water, we can be, we are also bread and butter. One without the other, just feels wrong. We look alike with our ice-blue eyes and Brillo-pad curly-ass hair. Our strong legs can lift a Volkswagen. Not joking. We are empaths and put others first to a fault. We have given away money, food, clothes, and our hearts more than we should have. We are both hysterical (ask us) and can laugh for hours about absolutely nothing. We both struggle with sleep and anxiety. We are realists. Our top two love languages are words of affirmation and quality time. We both adore his fur baby, Hazel. We both worship the sun, beach, water and duh…sushi.

You are still thinking, why are you having a hard time with his 35th birthday. Well, I see his future. Yikes. Yes, I have that ability. He is following my Blueprint, and it is going to be a bumpy ride. He is a soldier in a battle I have fought my whole entire life. A war. A war which has nearly killed me more than a few times. And I see him following in my footsteps with few weapons of protection. I have been an active duty soldier in my own missions since I was a little girl. Therefore, I did not have the capacity to recognize he is following my footsteps until the last few years.


They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and based on my education, experience and with multiple studies published, I would agree. Much of our habitual behavior is learned from our parents or mentors. So, not only had I learned my work ethic and perfection from the generations before me, but he has also learned his drive and standards from his parents. This one, I will take the “blame.”

Don’t get me wrong, I praise him for his dedication, pride, loyalty and work ethic. It, however, has escalated over the last few years. He is mimicking my “to infinity and beyond” behavior. By the time someone is in their mid-thirties, there are a few decades of practice under their belt. And as you know, the more embedded behaviors are-healthy or unhealthy, the more difficult the journey will be to find a healthy work, life and play balance. He will eventually experience a deep self-discovery phase. And it SUCKS. At least it did for me. It didn’t come wrapped up in a nice little bow. My self-discoveries came because of life or death. Several bouts. Learning how to self-soothe, learning to “be” versus to “do,” and how to create boundaries for self-care has been pain-staking. Society praises workaholics and perfectionists, and I am damn good at both. So is he! No one stops you from working as hard as three people, pounding the over-time for months without a day off, or when you put the company or your teams’ needs above your own. For that, you get an award.

Just as I did, he began working at age 16. He managed school, sports, and a job like it was a fine-oiled machine. He worked 20-25 hours a week and excelled in everything his brain or fingers touched. Except football. Why? Because he never understood why people would want to hurt each other. We pulled him out of that sport immediately.

Our workaholic and perfectionist addictions are two of the hardest addictions to rewire. First you must admit you are a workaholic and perfectionist, choose to make changes, and then you must remain steadfast to rewire that shit. It is a war – not a battle. On-going war! I work on this daily!!! 

Right now, my 35 year-old and I live 2400 miles apart. We both work every single day that ends with “y.” We take everything personally, and it either directly affects our mind, body or spirit. AND WE KNOW IT. Am I more skilled than I used to be? Hell yeah. Do I know my Red Flags? Yup. Am I healthier than I have been in decades? Ubetcha. Am I cured? No. Him? Hmm

For the first time in his life, I want to intervene without asking his permission. I want to kidnap him from the civilized world, send him off on a six-month sabbatical where he will eat mangos, walk through the waves each morning and paint the sunsets every night. I want him to stop his excel-at-everything addiction. I want to save him from decades of pain and the self-growth he is in store for. I am not dumb. I know I cannot live this life lesson for him. All parents know that intellectually. I just don’t want him to hurt. I want to break the generational curse – the epigenetics – rewire the learned behavior for the future apples on the tree.

I am flying out to see him next week. How will I share my concerns about his birthday?

About 15 years ago, I created a concept for us to communicate. It is a strategy I teach my clienets to this day. It is called, “Wearing Multiple Hats.” He and I have been mother-son, friends, confidants, and roommates. At times it was difficult to figure out what role we were playing so I began to preface every conversation with, “I am wearing my roommate, friend or my mom hat.” You get the picture. As an example, “Shane, I am wearing my roommate hat. It drives me crazy when you leave dishes in the sink, or you blare the music at 10 p.m.” Another one, “I am wearing my business hat. What are your thoughts on expanding my brand with this service?” It works for us to this day. Today, I am creating a new hat…the “Don’t Do I What Do” hat.

I would love to grab him, pull him on to my lap, beg him to wither up and cry like a toddler as I rock him to sleep. It will never happen. It never happened to me either.

I cherish our relationship. It is beyond cellular – it is telepathic. When we see 6:16 on the clock, a house address or on a license plate, we know we are either on each other’s mind or something is up, and we check in. It hasn’t failed us in 20 years.

He watches me. He learns from me. How can he not? It must suck having me as a mother…eat that, move more, how are you sleeping, have a can-do attitude, etc. However, I also watch and continue to learn from him. If I had a magic wand, the birthday wish I would grant him would be…

“May you enjoy and experience fun in your life without it looking at it as a task. May you learn to create boundaries to protect your health and happiness. May you take yourself less seriously, realize you are not for everyone, turn your phone off by 10 p.m., and remind yourself life isn’t always full of tomorrows.”

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
The information provided is the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. diagnosis, or treatment. The author and the business, All Things Wellness, LLC, and its owner Peggy Willms, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this article or on this website. We assume no responsibility for tangible and intangible damages such physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments.