Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On Turning 40

It's a strange and curious thing to consider that I'm turning 40, and technically entering my mid life, but it's absolutely as much my truth as anything else could be.  I had such angst (as you can well imagine if you've followed any of my posts for the past year) over turning 30.  This year, is very different.  I've had angst, but I think it's been targeted to specific events, things, people, rather than your average blanketed generic angst of say your teens and your twenties.

Let me tell you, those days of my teens and twenties don't feel so far away from this point in time than they actually are.  The rear view mirror really is distorted.

In any regard, my midlife crisis seems to be a factor of reclaiming my sense of self.  It's true what they say.  I know myself better than I ever have, and am unwilling to negotiate my sense of self away for any one else's needs....of course with the exception of all those little things we give up to maintain our mothering and wifely ways.  But when it comes to things like work, and extra-curricular commitments, and neglecting myself for the sake of keeping peace, well...I'm guessing the me that is 40, is probably a lot less inclined to concede.

What I know about me now that I didn't know, say 20 years ago:

I can succeed at anything I put my mind to - I just need free time and the desire to put a priority on it.  Just look what I've accomplished in the last year.  A major move, I kicked ass at my job and did a hell of a lot of kick ass parenting.  I've redecorated most of the house on a shoestring budget, and learned how to sew on the fly to make up for what we couldn't buy custom made.  I've nursed my child back to health for months and seen her through a challenging surgery.  I've seen myself through the challenges of surgery and am exactly where I promised myself I would be before turning 40 - as in, not the weight I started out last year weighing.

I am whole.  I have what I need, and while I recognize the struggle I have with never being satisfied will never go away, I am more at peace today with what I'm blessed to be and have, than I ever would have been 20 years ago.

When I grow up, I'm going to do what I want to do, and what I have a passion for.  I've spent the first 20 years of my adult life slogging away trying to get ahead so that I could afford a relatively comfortable life.  I'm going to spend the next 20 years transitioning from that phase of my life into pursuing my true passions...oh yeah, and I'm already well on my way.

My nephew, who is in university and thinks he's found all the answers to life's questions, posted a letter to himself from the future on his facebook the other day.  He talked a lot about uplifting himself, and reminded himself that he, just like Stuart Smalley, he ``is good enough, he is smart enough, and doggone it, people like him.``  I tried to take an opportunity to remind him that the letter one writes themselves at 40, sounds quite the same as he's written, but adds a lot more about humility and acceptance of the things we can not change and the lack of necessity there is in succeeding at everything.  I know humility has been a bit of a theme for me lately in life, but it's really ringing true this week.  He's 21 and has to argue about everything, because you know, he knows everything.  But one day, maybe he'll remember it.  Or maybe not.  The beauty of turning 40 is that I no longer give a shit if he really heard me.

I've spent the better part of my life striving, fighting and clawing my way to achieve the things I've done.  Nothing has come easy.  Graduating high school, hard.  Graduating University, hard.  Getting work, frigging hard.  Changing jobs has been impossible, so growing in place and developing my career and building a salary has been freaking monumental.  Finding a husband, collossally difficult.  Getting pregnant and becoming a mom, heart-breakingly painful, difficult, impossible and then miraculous.  Being a parent, ridiculously challenging every single moment of the day.  Moving, hard...growing up, Shyeah - Right.

"No one said life was fair.  No one said life is easy."  That's what they say.  I've proven them right time and again.  I've tried to learn my life lessons both through doing and living, but also by observing and watching others.  It's served me well, and will continue to be the way I move forward in my life.   BUT, it can be easier.  I firmly believe that.

And at 40, I'm going to guess that the answer is 50% optimism and 50% apathy at the outcomes of what we're trying to achieve.

So I`m spending my 40th birthday with the person who should really be celebrating it.  My mom.  As a mom, I have come to learn that this day, my birthday, is less about me, than about what she gave up to have me...the monumental, overwhelming joy of bringing a life into this world is hers to cherish.  It`s her day as much as it is mine, and since (aside from my husband) she is my best friend and confidante, we belong together on this day more than any other.

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