I have 46 days until I turn 40 years old.
That realization hit me last night as I was trying to go to sleep.
I’m going to be 40 very soon. FORTY. 40. Middle Aged. What I have I done for 40 years?!?
And I kinda freaked out a bit.
I looked in the mirror the other day. I noticed some of that skin that gets a little looser with age under my neck. The beginning of my skin just giving up it’s elasticity – oh joy. My knees sound like ratcheting screwdrivers as I come down the stairs. My hair shines in the sun with silver highlights. My metabolism is on vacation. My eyes require reading glasses more each day. My body is laughing at me, mocking me, at times.
I’m going to be 40.
And I’m still kinda freaking out a bit. I’m not handling this as graciously as I had hoped. Probably the opposite. I’m a 2 year old internally, pitching a fit.
I remember when I turned 29. A month or so later it dawned on me that a decade was ending and 30 was around the corner. I didn’t really like it at all. But then midway through my 29th year, I became pregnant with my oldest child and the thoughts of turning 30 were replaced with the excitement of giving birth. Motherhood rescued me from dreading turning 30. I embraced the new decade with the new challenge of raising a tiny human being.
But now, as I stand on the precipice of turning 40, I’m just not feeling any excitement. In fact, I think the word “dread” is more appropriate. I don’t have a major life event to distract me, aside from my first mammogram! Woohoo! Age-related medical tests… the fun is just starting. I just have a whole list of goals and dreams lost on my desk somewhere, buried under bills and homeschool paperwork I need to organize.
When I think about turning 40, I wonder if life has passed me by. Yes, I hear over and over so many people didn’t start their life until they turned 40. But I sit here overwhelmed at the moment. I didn’t get crap accomplished like I thought I would in my 20’s and 30’s. Who am I to think that my 40’s will be any different?
I want to talk to my life coach about this, she’s a therapist, she’ll set me straight, right? But she’s 32 years old. What the hell does she know about staring middle age in the face? Most of my friends are still in their 30’s. My husband is totally cool with his impending 40th birthday. He’s in some of the best shape of his life (despite his recent ankle injury) and is completely sane and exudes confidence and oh so well-balanced and well, just entirely awesome.
And then there is me over here, wanting to crawl up in the corner of the room with a pot of coffee or a bottle of wine and read stupid Young Adult (YA) fiction to distract me from encroaching middle age. Yeah, yeah… I’m turning 40 and I like teenage twaddle – apologies to Jane Austen and Victor Hugo, but good news for Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth (ugh, Roth wrote a best-selling book series fresh out of college in her 20’s -just what I don’t need to be reminded of at the moment – Hello, 40, I see you staring at me from over there, laughing away).
I sit here wondering, “what have I done with my life?” And I know I need to be more positive. And I know I’m going to get all sorts of encouraging comments from you all about this, telling me not to worry, life is just starting, you’re busy with doing important mothering work, blah, blah. And my mom is going to be all concerned and tell me she loves me. And everyone else is just going to think, “oh, here goes Mandi on another of her little mental freakouts.”
I’m not even sure why I feel compelled to write this internal drama out. I’m half-embarrased by sharing all my weaknesses with you. Yet, here I am. Maybe this is why I sometimes dream I’m in public in just my underwear. Because I stand here with my naked soul sharing my inner thoughts and fears with friends, family, and complete strangers who sometimes read my blog.
I probably have people who’ve known me since high school, themselves all accomplished now, wonder if I was this unsettled back then (yes and no – hindsight shows me I really was). I have judgy-mcjudges I know think my spiritual life isn’t strong enough (guess what – are any of our spiritual lives where they need to be? I’m a work in progress). I have family concerned about my emotional dips (love you, too – I’ll be okay eventually). I have newer friends who for some reason stick around even though I’m a basketcase at times (and know just when we need a night out). And I have my husband who lays in bed next to me, patiently listening to me yet again freak out about something when he really just wants to go to sleep (seriously, he’s the best).
I suppose all in all, I’m a rather blessed person. My rational side says 40 is just another number and I shouldn’t care so much. My rational side says not to give up on a dream deferred. My rational side says that I can still do awesome and great things in life and maybe write a book sometime in this new, approaching decade. My rational side says to count my blessings and realize that the work of mothering that I sometimes feel hijacked my 30’s is important and has enternal signficance – I really do know it does, but it’s exhausting. My rational side says it’s going to be okay even if I never accomplish my life goals and one day end life as a very old lady surrounded by my family – my children, their children… because that’s what matters.
But at this moment, my rational side is in a wrestling match with my not-so-rational side. I’m staring 40 in the face and wondering, “What’s next?” I’m trying to clear my mind of the things I haven’t done yet and think of the good, the things I have done and experienced.
The big 4-0. Forty. 40. Maybe if I say it and write it enough, when the day comes, it won’t bother me. Until then, I’m just going to be over here in the corner re-reading The Hunger Games trilogy with a glass of wine.