I turned 40 this past Thursday. I wanted to write an emotional, insightful, mind-blowing post on my birthday, but I was too tired.
After work, I took my kids out to celebrate. My husband couldn’t make it, because of his crazy work schedule at the hospital, but the kids and I had fun. We even ordered dessert, personal cheesecakes piled high with fresh berries and a dollop of creme fraiche (Google tells me that’s how you spell it, but you know, crem-fresh.) My son even ate the spring of mint placed ever so perfectly between two berries. He’s been a voracious eater lately, not even the garnish is safe around him.
When my daughter finished her meal, she asked for a pen and wrote the owner of the restaurant, her best friend’s father, a note on a napkin.
I’ll be sad when my kids have outgrown their child-likeness.
My birthday began with snow. It always does. My parents love to tell the story of the day a blizzard of epic proportions hit the entire New York City area. Doctors were stuck in the hospital. The world stood still while snow fell. I was born.
I guess snow is a hazard of having a birthday in February.
I went to work and my boss brought me a large coffee to make sure I began middle-age well caffeinated. She also brought pastries, because she’s awesome.
For the last six months, my coworker has been telling everyone who will listen that I am 40. In a way, I’m indebted to her. She paved the way and desensitized me to the number. I am now ok with 40.
40 is complex, even more than 30. It means so many things to me. Here are a few.
40 is sobering.
This is real-life, without the excuse of youth.
I can’t blame screw-ups on immaturity or other people. The rubber just the proverbial road. I am accountable for me, for the choices I make, for how I live out the rest of my life.
I will live without excuse.
40 is better than 30 and light-years away from 20.
Your 20’s are hard years. You think you know what you want, but so often you don’t. You make lots of mistakes. Then, you find excuses for those mistakes, because you truly believe you have life figured out.
The 20’s are for idealism. You feel invincible. You can do anything you can imagine. You need little sleep, lots of love, and room to grow.
The 30’s feel like work. You get caught up in building – a life, a family, a career, a white picket-fence to contain your dog, two kids, and house with the high mortgage.
The 30’s are for settling down and establishing yourself.
You doubt in your 30’s. You question if what you’re making out of life is enough.
Your 40’s, well, it’s hard for me to say…I’ll tell you in ten years. I do know it’s going to be better than 30. I can tell that already.
40 is confidence.
Let’s face it, at 40, I know what I can and cannot do. I know my weakness and strengths. I’ve tasted a little bit of success, and I’ve also failed miserably, more than once.
I don’t have a false sense of self. I know myself a little better, and I realize that I’m a package deal. I work hard, but I make mistakes. I love much, but that love is imperfect and too often selfish. I have abilities, and yes, even a talent or two, but I have so much left to learn and to master.
I think confidence comes when you can see and accept yourself for who you are, who God created you to be. Sure, if you could change some things you would, but you’ve learned to embrace the good and the not-so-good of you.
40 is worrying less about what people think.
Not everyone is going to agree with my choices, my actions, or my decisions. I’m good with that. I value advice, but I can’t live my life to make everyone happy.
That’s hard to believe, because I am a people-pleaser at heart.
I’ve already disappointed some and hurt others. This life is messy, but we all have to choose our path, walk down our own road, and sometimes even make mistakes. I try to walk in truth, but I stumble and fall.
At 40, I know I’m imperfect, and you know it too. We do our best, and that’s not a cop-out.
We can still be friends, even if when we see life differently.
40 is full of opportunity.
All that work from your 30’s is starting to pay off. You get to see some fruit from your labor.
For me, I’m getting to see my kids grow-up and become really likeable people. They are fun to be around. I don’t regret a moment I invested in their early years.
I’m getting opportunities to grow as a blogger. Somehow, I’ve carved out this teeny-tiny space for myself and my thoughts in cyberland, and you guys have become my friends. I never could have imagined the opportunities that would come when I named this space The Domestic Fringe.
My husband and I have opportunities in ministry. These opportunities look really different from what we planned. They are mostly small, person-to-person. They happen in the secret moments of everyday. They are not at all flashy, nor are they self-promoting. They come when we are willing to walk in the rain and get wet.
40 is so much more than you fear it will be.
I think, as a society, we view aging in very negative ways. It’s not all bad.
Wherever we are in life, at whatever age we call ourselves, we are blessed with this gift of life.
We can’t discount yesterday or take tomorrow for granted. We must embrace today.
We can’t live in fear of what may come.
That’s another post though, for another day. I must be getting wordier as I get older, because this post is eight hundred too many words.
I am 40.
I’ll let people think I’m 29 if they guess wrong, as long as my coworker doesn’t get to them with the truth, but I’m not ashamed of 40. I do believe my 40’s will be good years. I plan on conquering 40.
*Note: I repeatedly used “40” instead of “forty”. I just think “40” looks cooler. 😉
And, because I have a picture of my mom on her 40’th birthday, I decided to take a selfie on my 40th. It’s not a perfect picture, but I’m good with that. It’s me.
Happy Birthday! My 40’s were fabulous, some of the best and happiest years of my life. My girls were teenagers during my 40’s and I am a fan of teenagers. Your kids lose their child-likeness but never completely. You will still see it there from time to time in your teenager, even your young adult child. Enjoy this new decade!
Happy Birthday! As one who has been 40 for 2 months and 11 days, I have to agree with you. I am liking 40 WAY better than 30. All those things you said probably flashed through my head too, but I think I was asleep on the couch in front of the TV. Looking forward to many more posts from you!
Lavette McFeeters says
Happy belated birthday! I just stumbled across your blog through a Facebook friend that had shared the link to the article (not sure what to call it) about teaching your children to sit still. Great read by the way. While I was here I happened to see you writing about turning 40. I am 42 and will be 43 in just a couple weeks. You were spot on! I enjoyed reading your blog so I will hang around (not in a stalkerish way) and see what other words of wisdom you have. Thank you for taking the time to create this blog and share your life with all of us. God bless you and your family.
Happy birthday! I’m halfway through my forties and I agree with everything you said.
The Domestic Fringe says
Thank you Karen!
Happy Birthday! Happy 40! Love your blog…you make me smile!
The Domestic Fringe says
Thank you Diane. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
40! This decade you are going to be awesome and fierce!!!
The Domestic Fringe says
Awww…thanks mom. <3