Monday, September 1, 2014

Fearing 40

If you knew me before I became a mother, you'd remember that I lived for my birthday.

I'm not kidding.

Especially, if we were co-workers, you'd recall that I'd dub 'May' the month of Kelly and celebrate in every possible way.  I'd conduct count downs leading up to the big day...May 6th to be exact.  I'd unabashedly give gift ideas for my friends and family to consider that typically included anything related to chocolate, coffee, wine, poetry, The New York Times, good books, and letters....I LOVE receiving letters and cards.  And I was never humble about it.  And, shockingly, as I look back, I'm kind of surprised at how much I fawned over my birthday.

Once I got married and quickly became a mama, everything changed.

When we moved into our home, we found out a bit of the back story on the sellers.  They were newly remarried and each had a child of their own as well as a baby on the way.  They were 40 and getting ready to buy their parents' much larger home.

Makes absolute sense, I thought.  Because, when you're 40, that's when you've got your shit together.  You've established yourself in your career.  Your kiddos are maybe not so new.  You've had time to focus on your retirement investments and you know what you want out of life. You drive grown up cars and eat grown up foods, own grown up furniture, go on grown up vacations and well, you get the picture.

And so, it is that in approximately 8 months, I'll be turning 40.

I still live in my "starter home."  I do not have my retirement portfolio where I'd like it to be.  I've been a stay-at-home mama for 7 years, so my kiddos are what I have to show for my career path and on some days, I'm not sure how glowing my performance review would be when you observe their behavior.  I do not know how to change a tire on my car and my car is an old Honda.  I still cringe when things go wrong in our house assuming that I'm going to have to prostitute myself on the street corner to pay for them.  I make more macaroni and cheese and PB&J than should be legal to be consumed.  Our furniture has some form of puke, pee or other assorted stickyness attached to it.  And the last time I left the country was on my honeymoon a decade ago. So, hopefully, you can see that I don't feel like a grown-up.

To be fair, as with every major "age" milestone, I have been blessed...a decent run at the high school deal, a great undergrad experience, fun times studying abroad, a grueling but rewarding graduate school program, an amazing husband, three beautiful kiddos, a body that has taken me through several running races and a community of friends and family that have saved my life countless times.

So, you would think that turning 40, should be in...what's next?  What's this new decade going to bring?  Especially now that I'm embarking upon more "me" time and opportunities to jump start my mediation skills again, my physical fitness, my writing and of course, my family.

But instead, it fills me with more dread than excitement.

And subsequently, I am reminded that life is disappointing when you fill it with expectations of what it should look like instead of being grateful and wide-eyed to what it is.

If you've turned 40 and not only survived, but are thriving, I'd love to hear your take on the whole deal.

Why are some ages just more challenging than others?

I suppose I have 8 months to get excited and grab another goal to throw into the 30's before I climb over the hill.

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