It’s true. I’m 40! Officially middle aged! I cannot tell you how much pure joy I would derive from sitting down with my twenty-year-old self and comparing notes about our assumptions vs. the reality of reaching this pivotal milestone. Bless my 20 year old heart. From the precious perspective of my youth, 40 looked slightly wrinkled and ultra responsible. It looked like shoulder pads and sensible heels, perms and problem solving; Basically every TV matriarch in the throes of an 80’s sitcom plot line.
To be honest, I don’t feel that kind of 40 at all. Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of wrinkes and responibilites. Fortunately, I’ve mostly avoided shoulder pads and haven’t had a perm in at least a decade, but I sort of expected to be a little more ‘adultish’ by now. I mean, technically I’m adulting every day; I have been married for over 15 years. I’ve given birth to 4 whole human beings, all of whom are double digits now. I’ve built a business from the ground up alongside my hubby, and then turned around and sold that business for a profit. I do all of my banking and billpay online, I have a vegetable garden, a handful of mortgages, a diverse retirement portfolio and a life insurance policy.
On all accounts I am a bonafide adult. But on the inside, so much feels the same as when I was 12 years old: I still get a good chuckle when someone accidentally (or not) toots in the bathroom stall next to me. When I feel sick or sad, I still want my mama. And my laptop sticker collection rivals any Lisa Frank sticker book I had in middle school. Truth is, in a lot of ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
There was something about the ignororant superiority of youth that had me somewhat convinced I’d be less relevant at 40; An asenine idea that surely generated from the same dumbass part of the adolescent brain that convinces teenagers, quite effectively, that they know everything and their parents are idiots. Beyond that though, I’ve seen numerous men and women alike dread these decade milestones. Perhaps they’re sifting through disappointment about not reaching goals, not being where they thought they’d be, not doing what they thought they’d do. Perhaps they’re exhausted from the burden of raising children, demanding jobs, and aging parents. Perhaps they’re noticing that their bodies are changing, their hormones and metabolism are not what they once were and they are, in fact, getting older. Or, perhaps they actually do feel less relevant. The closer I got to forty, the more anxious I felt about getting there. I’d inadvertently been waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Truth be told, I’m proud, thrilled even, to be a quadragenarian. I fully intend to wear forty like the hard-earned badge of honor that it is; Four decades of triumph and tribulation, success and failure, friendship and love, forgiveness, mistakes and sacred memories; All woven together into the uniquely beautiful tapestry that is a life I am grateful for.
Forty feels less like an 80’s sitcom and more like I’m finally coming into my own. I’m finding a comfort in my own skin that has eluded me for years. I’m discovering my voice and learning to use it; I don’t have to be an expert to be a part of the conversation. I’m giving myself permission to change a narrative that has been spoon fed to me by my own interpretation of societal norms. I am dancing in the magical revelation that comes with weathering enough storms to finally believe in the power and strength that lies within me because it has proven itself over and over and over. I can count on myself to show up and do good work. I am giving myself permission to let go of the insignificant nuances of living life on earth with other humans and their expectations and opinions. I’m believing more and more in the life-giving forces of kindess and acceptance and I’m trying to embody both with reckless abandon. I’m learning every single day that I still have so much more to learn; and yet, everyday it feels less and less like I’ve got something to prove, and more like I’ve got something to offer. I am resiliant. I am strong. I am confident in my decisions. I am a good wife. A good friend. A really, really good mom.
‘I feel less like I’ve got something to prove, and more like I’ve got something to offer.’
I’m a million things more than I was in my twenties. A better version. Broken in. Well loved. Well Traveled. Worn in all the right places. Stitched together at the seams. Trustworthy. Like a kick ass pair of vintage denim mom jeans. Straight from the 80’s.