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F is for 40

The time is coming. The big 4-0, and it’s knocking at my door. I’m not sure why I have such a weird “thing” with birthdays. On one hand, I love them. I love the joy and celebration that birthdays are supposed to represent. I love them…in theory. On the other hand, in practice, aside from cake and presents (because really, who doesn’t like cake and presents?!) birthdays are a milestone by which we look at our life this far. They’re also a sign of us getting older. A sign of being one step close to the end rather than the beginning.

I know deep down that it’s just another day, and that if I’m honest, I’m way more content at this age than I was at 20. I was such a moron at 20. I swear I made decisions that make me literally cringe when I think about them now. A friend reminded me of a comment I made during my youth and it was so dumb I actually winced. What was I thinking? Who was that person?! I was a young, naive girl full of hope and independence. I had opinions and had no fear of voicing them. Consequences…what were those? Yet underneath it all I suffered with self esteem and simply wanted to be loved for me. I took a lot of hard knocks, I got knocked down and had to pick myself back up. I made decisions in the name of wanting to fit in and be loved that would make me go absolutely mental if my daughter did the same thing. I walked a fine line between being content being on my own and independent, yet feeling lonely and wanting people around. Cake and eat it too, so to speak.

Eventually, I got the hang of it. As soon as I swore off dating and really hammered down what *I* wanted in life, things fell into place. I met the man of my dreams and got married, I had my kids. I have joy. I have a job. It’s not my passion, but I enjoy it. People ask me what my dream job is, and I can’t honestly say. My dreams centered around my home life, and I am living the life I want, so anything else is a gift. Things are good, and that’s what frightens me.

I am at the age where I am attending funerals for my friends’ parents. I attended my mom’s funeral. I have friends who have battled cancer. I know my odds aren’t good of escaping cancer, and it terrifies me. Friends are divorcing, some are in rehab. Some are having babies, while some are becoming grandparents. Some of my friends’ kids are going to college. One friend went back to college and just graduated. More than one friend has a spouse who battles depression. We are adults, we are parents, we are losing our parents. Life is getting more scary on some levels. Some are losing everything, others are building from the ground up after their world collapsed. I am one of the lucky ones. I am hanging on and thus far, healthy. Health concerns are more prevalent as we age. Take my family history and it’s down right terrifying.. Adulthood is scary, and I’m not sure I have the hang if it sometimes. I am beginning to understand midlife crisis’.

Yet all this aside, I am happy I am figuring out who I am. I am growing up. I have learned when to speak my mind and when it might be best to self censor a little. It’s a learning curve, but I am improving. I have more patience. I know my quirks. I hold fewer grudges, and I move on easier from anger. I’ve calmed down a LOT. I find I am more open to ideas, but I also know when I am steadfast about something. I know that I am a good mom, a good wife, but a very mediocre cook and quite crappy at domestics. I know it’s a good idea to have dresses for a funeral, a wedding, and a baby shower in my closet. I don’t care that I’m not skinny, as long as I keep my weight in check. I know that I will likely always be one lack of a pedicure away from being locked in the reptile cage at the zoo. I consume too much sugar (but gave up Equal and other sweeteners!) I also gave up smoking, and I stopped taking ambien because it gave me withdrawals. A night in watching Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad, curled up with a glass of wine and wearing my pjs will beat out a club any day. Losing my mom has made me painfully aware that my days could be numbered, and I will always stop to give my kids a hug and kiss even if it makes me late to some adult event I should be at. That 2 minutes I am late to work is worth it if it was spent letting a 7 year old know how much he is loved, or giving a 3 year old an extra hug as I leave the house in the morning.

So while I may be entering 40 under protest, I also consider it a gift. This girl is under construction, a work in progress, under maintenance. I’m far from perfect, and I can confidently say I will continue to embarrass myself as usual, or do or say the wrong thing. Yet I can hope that perhaps I do those things less, that I can listen more, be better. I hope that I can bring back a bit of the fun loving self of my youth, as I have felt her slipping away with the responsibilities of adulthood. I miss her. She was one crazy broad, and she needs to get her groove back. There has to be a middle ground, and I’m searching for it. Wish me luck.

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