Forty. Day One.


{Deep breath.}

I’m forty.


Surprisingly it has been a pretty damn good day.  I was sure I’d be in tears the moment the sun poked through the blinds this morning.  Instead, I awoke early with sort of a smile….and a big sigh. So far the dreaded day left me feeling pretty…well….normal. Quite a relief as I eased into the day with what every woman over the age of thirty absolutely craves…… and donuts.

Standing at the bakery waiting for my hot fix of caffeine I wondered if everyone knew.  Like in junior high when I had what was thought to be a giant zit on my forehead and I was forced to go to school anyways….Could those around me tell? Was it so obvious they couldn’t look away…like a car wreck.  “Oh…look at her…”, I could almost hear them whisper, “she’s…{dun dun dun}…forty.” Overnight, going from thirty-nine to forty, was it possible I had I been sprinkled with some kind of aging powder that marked me like wearing scarlet letter? Would people pass by me and shake their heads in sorrow? Would their glances seem to say “Oh, that poor, poor, woman,” ?

But, much to my relief, none of this happened. {Ok. I cannot lie. The coffee and donuts totally did. And they were hot and sweet and tasty. Quite a youthful treat I must say….don’t judge. I’ll eat some extra fruit and veggies to balance it out later.}

Second stop of the day….the beach.  At twenty or thirty I never would have thought I’d be sitting with my toes in the sand, sunshine on my freckled shoulders on one of the many beaches of warm Southern California on my fortieth birthday.  Let alone call this place home.

What an amazing couple of decades.

By amazing I mean I’m glad that they are over.

My twenties were filled with my wonderful babies and giggles…but also with diapers, diaper bags, diaper bills, and leaky boobs {TMI?? Oh too bad for you.  It is by far one of the worst most awkward feelings in the world.}, Little Tykes toys, crazy body-metamorphoses {I will spare you the details this time…}, Elmo, Barney, white picket fences, Hamburger Helper, vomit down my back, vomit down my front…no not my own geesh….and once, vomit on my face….and, of course, squished bananas and mashed peas.

Lots of yuck…but always love….so much love.

In my thirties I was consumed with youth hockey and micromanaging a house full of smelly, hungry, amazing boys. I busied myself with solo trips from the western hemisphere to the eastern, and by making scrapbooks of my pictures and stories.  But they were also filled with horrific things…driving a blue minivan with lots of cup holders like everyone else in the neighborhood, round two of crazy body-metamorphoses…mystery illnesses suck. Hmmm…could it be malaria? A few months later even scarier questions…lymphoma? Leukemia? Thank goodness I was given the free and clear bill of health….6 long months later, with still no real answers except a parasite and just a weak immune system that I suspect to be severe depression. As I get further away from this time in my life it gets more and more evident how mentally damaging and terrifying it was. {Please, I will take leaky boobs and vomit on my face any day over this.}

My thirties brought with them not only my illnesses, but my dad’s too. He didn’t get that coveted clean bill of health like I did.  My thirties brought anxiety, and fear, and loss, and career changes, and activities I nearly drowned myself in, and regrets, and isolation, and broken hearts.

The thirties brought growing up.

But love. Always love.

Now, day number one of being forty, I sense another shift in the ground I once thought stood still under my feet.  I sit on the beach and dig my toes deep into the earth.  I watch as the tiny grains of sand move, still in sight…but moving all the same.  Everything below my feet transfers and rolls to a new spot where it settles in.  I dig my feet deeper in the sand, in life, and I can see things begin to progress, to detour, to move forward.  I feel a sense of independence for the first time in my life, of freedom to be who I am…I mean really who I am…not who I’m expected to be.  Confidence, curiosity, and both mental and physical strength stick to my skin just as the grains of sand do.

Again, I cannot lie…I’m still quite pissed about being the big four-oh.  I frickin’ can’t believe I actually am.   I when I blow out those candles on my birthday cake later my wish will still be to be twenty-nine. But, hell, there’s going to be of a lot of ‘em on that cake.  Not sure I will be able to get the job done.  Sigh…

But still, today, I woke up with a smile, donuts, a sweet phone call full of birthday wishes that made my smile even wider, an afternoon at the beach, a scrumptious lunch with a big beer overlooking the sea and that ever shifting sand. Ahead of me is an evening soon to be filled with some people I just couldn’t live without and more big beers.  My notebook is full of words that I have managed to pull out of my always overflowing mind and a lump has risen up into my throat…

Now I cry.

The good kind though….my forties are already full, as my other decades were, of love.

A wise man once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Simple, yet, wise advice.

Forty.  Yeah. I am.


One response »

  1. Love this post, especially the part about how turning affords you permission to just be you. I felt empowered when I turned 40. I have slowed down and allow myself to pause for a moment and enjoy every moment. Life is good, really good. Turning 40 changed me and my life forever. Sounds like you are on a similar path. Enjoy!

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