When I was fifteen and a half, I couldn’t wait for my next birthday. Sweet sixteen was a magical number. I’d be allowed to drive, and go on dates with boys, and get a job. I thought if I worked hard, I could be nearly perfect by the time I turned 16. Somehow I did that to myself again when I was in my thirties. I told myself that when I turned 40, I’d be wise and elegant and organized. Well, I’m afraid those qualities didn’t magically show up because a day or a number changed. I’m still me.
My husband helped me with this number a lot. He found a quote that said something like, “Forty is old enough to know exactly what you want, and young enough to go and get it.” This is true. I’m beginning to realize how young I am. I’ve been watching my parents and my in-laws over this past decade. They’ve earned so much wisdom from living six or seven decades but there’s a few strings attached: physical pain and aging. I think I’ll enjoy forty because my body still feels great.
Another dumb thing I told myself over the years, was that when I turned forty I’d get a boob job. Not a breast aug, a reduction. Somehow forty was permission enough to close the chapter on babies and nursing, and to downsize on the stuff I don’t need. Well, there are a handful of reasons I didn’t do it. Money, the surgery itself, recovery.
A great song by Martina McBride says, “My baby loves me just the way that I am.” Once again I need to thank Norm for accepting my body during all of these years. He’s never once told me to quit eating my cookie, or to put down the tub of ice cream. He’s always been my biggest fan. His acceptance and love have helped me to accept myself, and to love this body in every season, with all the variations in shape and size.
I live in an area saturated with amazing women. I have friends who are talented and smart and gorgeous. Sometimes I feel pretty average around here. Sometimes the trends for beauty are pretty rigorous. Maybe as moms we need to take a piece of our own advice, and apply that to our bodies. When a kid is acting spoiled, we say something like, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!” Well, we don’t all look like models, and that’s okay. We don’t all wear a size 6, and we don’t all have perfect teeth or hair or eyelashes or whatever. I think that’s part of the magic. I’m so glad we’re not all the same.So forty is kind of magical but not for the reasons I’d expected. I didn’t change overnight, and there’s still a junk corner in my kitchen that I haven’t organized. But I like my mess. I’m okay with progress, and instead of looking at my shortcomings, I can look at all of the people I love. I can see where my presence has made an impact. I see how my husband and kids need me, and how this mommy job is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I can see where my contributions to the neighborhood have made it a better place. I can appreciate where I’ve been, and look forward to the next chapter…
written in September