My 40th birthday is dangerously close. Despite my attempts at evasion, it appears that I will indeed be 40 years old one week from today. So far, I'm only reluctantly OK with this. I've resigned to the reality that bad things happen to good people.
But I don't want this to be a bad thing. I want to embrace this milestone. I want to be 40 and Fabulous!
It isn't really that I'm sad to say goodbye to my thirties. I remember how excited I was to turn 30. It was going to be my best decade ever! Life was good. I was on the right track. I was a mother to three gorgeous children and the wife to a very talented pastor. But my thirties began to bitch-slap me no more than a month after my 30th birthday, and (with a few years of happy reprieve) continued the beat-down for the better portion of that decade. So, in many ways, I am happy to turn this page.
The fact that my father died at the age of 43 looms over me a lot. It makes the forties a scary decade for my superstitious mind. I am not superstitious by choice; it just nags at me on a subconscious level, causing regular conversations between my rational self and my other self. Don't look at me like that... I know you do it too.
After some persistent contemplation, I've concluded that, outside of the obvious link between aging and death, my angst about getting older is due to my inability to reconcile where I thought I would be in my life by this age, and where I actually am. At 20, I dreamed of marrying the love of my life and raising babies together in the home we would buy to grow old in. Clearly, I have made valiant attempts at realizing this dream. What is it they say? "Try, try again?" "Never, Ever give up?" Yet, three husbands, four babies, and too many homes later, it seems my progress has taken the two steps forward, four steps back approach. I somehow feel like I'm still just trying to get started; only, not with a virginesque blank slate, clean credit, or youth. Where I am isn't bad, it is just vastly different from the picture of success that I spent years training my brain to believe in. And, my current reality is quite different from what society has taught me it should be by now.
** Ok. Stop right there. I know you already have half your speech prepared on why I shouldn't care what society says; why I need to be true to myself; how life is a journey of experiences and learning... Of course, I know all of this is true. Again, what I know to be true and what my other self interjects are frequently at odds with each other.**
This is why I write; to spill out the clutter of thoughts that paralyze me from forward motion. And, as I'm writing this, bits of happiness and hope are seeping in. I'm realizing that, with the surreal losses of my thirties, I have gained priceless perspectives about life and humanity, and have found beautiful pieces of myself. And, I know this is not unique to me. Many of you are reading my words and nodding your heads in understanding. This is the gift age brings. Wealth provided by experiences of both joy and pain.
So, I guess I'm not starting again empty-handed. Of course I'm not! I have four spectacular human beings that call me mother, a rugged and poetic man that calls me wife, and the wisdom that these first 40 years have afforded me. (Just, maybe, can we slow down a little bit on the wisdom-imparted-through-pain part??)
I have sort of been looking at this birthday as an opportunity for resolutions. So, phrases such as, "five year plan," and "bucket list," have been uttered. My imagination has been swimming with visions of physical fitness, moving closer to the ocean, sustainable gardening, owning a home again, developing community, growing our shop, medical insurance...
But, first things first... I'm turning 40... LET'S PARTY!