Some changes are a little tough to swallow. The gray hairs on my head seem to multiply while I sleep, and I shy away from the camera because the bigger I smile, the more wrinkles appear. And as many of my friends are discovering, I just can't party as hard as I did in my twenties and not expect to pay for it the next day.
Some changes are welcome. Like the wisdom to realize that life is too short to waste on drama. It's easy to get caught up in the web of trying to keep up with everyone else, but what for? I was happy to be myself in my teens and twenties and didn't care what other people thought - why start now? If anything now is the time to boldly pronounce that you're either here to have fun/be supportive/share in life's journey or you need to move on. It's a tough proclamation and not one that will make me very popular. But here's the thing about forty: I don't care.
I've made it halfway (? avg lifespan in my family is around 80) through life and it feels pretty amazing. There have been good decisions and bad ones, kind people and cruel ones, positive life experiences and ones that left me crushed and defeated. But I have traveled through it all and plan to keep on trucking. My thirties were all about being a mom. Waiting to be a mom, feeling completely clueless when I finally became a mom, and then figuring out (which I'm still doing) how to be the best mom I can be. In my forties I hope to keep rocking the mom thing and to discover what else makes me whole. It isn't so much about having a plan (I tried that in my twenties. Ha.) as it is about finding what fuels my soul, and then going out and doing it. Not being afraid. Not making excuses. Setting goals and reaching them.
When I set out to write a novel, I was naive and green. Oh so green. But I read up on the craft, expanded my social network to include people who could help me get a clue, and kept at the project until it was finished. It may never see the world outside my small circle, but that is okay. Because there's something else I've learned on the cusp of turning forty. I've always wanted to leave my mark on the world, but I never stopped to think about what that really meant. I have used my writing journey as an opportunity to teach my children about passion, about risk, and about perseverance. About the fact that you don't always get the thing you go after, but often the expedition is its own reward.
So bring it on, forty. Bring on the gray hair, the wrinkles, the sagging skin. Bring on the day afters because mama is going to keep on dancing. Join me, if you want.
Oh, and in case you like this sort of thing, here are highlights from the last four decades:
|five years old... I wanted to be a model|
|seventeen years old... away from home for the first time and so not ready for the real world|
|twenty seven years old... solo trip to Hong Kong to visit hubby on deployment|
|thirty nine years old... dancing with the band|