Tag Archives: Turning 40

It Took 40 Years To Be This Person

One recent Sunday morning I set my juice on the table next to a piece of rolled up paper tied with ribbon. “Is this for me?” My family took me by complete surprise. In 40 days I would be 40. They planned to celebrate me in some way every one of those days.

When you’re a kid, every birthday is special, filled with anticipation. Adults mostly try to push them back like the sand that keeps sliding and filling a carefully dug hole.

Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about turning 40. Not worry, not dread. Reflection. I’m more excited about this birthday than I’ve been since I turned 21.

To me, 40 is not old. I’m lucky enough to have a father who never looked at age as something to dread. “I’m just glad I made it this long,” he says every year. I feel like this is my chance to take everything I’ve learned and go forth.

But 40 does feel like a crossroads. This big year of tumbling into a new decade. Do I keep trudging through my days the same way as always? Do I shake things up a bit? When is the right time to get out there and do the things I’ve always wanted to do? If ever there was a time to try something, this is it. Though I feel like I finally have wisdom backing me, I no longer have the luxury of an expanse of time.

I’m what you call a late bloomer. It took me a long time to come out of my shell. I remember a time, decades ago, when boys wore their best flannel shirts and stone-washed jeans to the high school dance. I gathered all the courage I had and blew it on walking in the door, forget dancing. I watched as everyone else without a date gathered in groups and bobbed together like boats on the horizon. Their bodies pulsed to the beat, they laughed, they goofed off. It didn’t matter what I faked. Smile or laugh or whatever, the only thing hearing me was the wall and deep down, I fought the tapping in my toes and the bouncing in my knees. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have as good a time as the kids on the dance floor.

In time, I learned. I learned not to care what I looked like. I learned that confidence and beauty really can go hand-in-hand with making a fool of yourself. People see your smile, hear your laughter. They move and smile and laugh with you. No one is moved to hold the wall up with you all night.

And I want to be an example. I don’t want my kids to be that person. I don’t want them to sit on the sidelines and watch. I want them to participate in life and jump in and not be afraid. I don’t want them to hold their happiness in.

When my kids are mortified to see me dance, when they hear me scream on a ride, when they see my step falter on a high climb, when they hear me speak up, when they see me try something new, I want my kids to know that it has taken me nearly 40 years to be this person. That you don’t ever have to stop growing. Every year I learn something new because I learned to let go of the part of me that was holding me back.

This was tough but quick. Almost at the end!

Something new and terrifying.

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Forty Is Just a Number

My husband turns 40 this week. He’s not thrilled about his milestone four decades of life. I think he feels kind of old, lost his youth, you know. If he drives up in a convertible and I have to put up with ten years of a midlife crisis, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Go along for the ride? As long as there isn’t a blonde in the passenger seat, I think I can handle a little change.

I’ve just never cared much about age. Forty doesn’t scare me, but I’m not quite there yet either. I still have two years (one and a half) until I say good-bye to my thirties, and they’ve been really good to me. Maybe by then I will be a weepy, wrinkly, achy mess.

For most of my adult life, I haven’t been able to remember my age. Twenty-something. Twenty-three, no seven? After I was legal, I really didn’t care. Now that I have kids who can speak and who are good in math, they don’t let me forget. “No, you’re 38.”turning 40

I think having kids helps me maintain a youthful spirit. When you play chase in the yard, pretend you’re Padme Amidala, immerse yourself in dolls and Harry Potter, and hear fart talk 24/7, it rubs off on you. My dad always says, “You’re as old as you feel,” and I agree. I look forward to a Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Little House book as much as my kids do. I let my spirit decide my age. The actual number can’t get me down.

But seeing my husband as he approaches 40, living with someone almost as youthful as I am who plays with the kids and lives this same life, I’m starting to see his perspective. I’m starting to get it, to feel it.

My mind may still feel young but my body is aging whether I want it to or not. Every winter now, my joints swell and ache. My fingers become stiff and the morning cold greets my body with a shock of reality. I’m sure it’s arthritis but I don’t want to take a multi-pill regimen every day. I’m too young for a day-of-the-week pill pack.

My eyes deceive me. For the rest of my life, I will always hear the story of the time I pointed up to the tree at the zoo and told my kids to look at the pretty bird. It happened to be a red panda, and I happened to be the butt of many jokes that day.

I fall asleep on the couch on Friday nights mouth gaping, tongue lolling, and mumble “I’m awake” from time to time. I’m cold from August through June. I always need a lap blanket because it’s so darn chilly. As I sweep the hair off the bathroom floor every morning, I wonder who will go bald first—my husband or me. It looks like we’re both regular contributors.

I hope once 40 passes, it will be just another number to my husband, to me. I hope it won’t crush my spirit, and loud music and Star Wars will always be fun. I hope my husband and I get a second wind and embarrass our teenagers by staying out late, holding hands, and partying too much.

But regardless of what we do, how old we really are, and what time we go to bed, I’m glad we spend all of our birthdays together. It will lessen the sting when 90 approaches.

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