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On Being 40

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I turned 40 about a year ago so 2016 has seemed like a good time for self-refection. Here are some of the things on my mind:

1. Ugh: It’s too late.

The fine lines on my face tell me it’s too late to put more sunscreen on during all those summers at the beach. It’s too late to build really strong bones (bone mass growth peaks at age 30). It’s too late to do lots of kegels after having each baby (squeeze ladies, squeeze!). It’s too late to foster a closer relationship with my grandparents, who have passed away, and whose wisdom I would appreciate now as I enter middle age. Ugh.

2. It’s not too late, fool.

Sure, there are some things you can’t undo (or do), but you’re only 40. Get it together, lady.

3. Further to #2: Maybe I should lift some weights.

When 2015 (my 40th year) dawned, I woke up one day and thought rather over-dramatically: Eek, 40. Pretty soon I’ll be a hunched over old person with broken hips. Flab and weakness upset my vanity in my 30s but now my life is in danger! (Also, I always kind of hoped I’d be one of those hot 40-somethings…you know, like JLo.) So that very day I joined Crossfit Immortal and today I actually have some muscles. I even did my first pull-up a few weeks ago! (Though I still have no dance moves.)

3. Woah. I need new clothes

I turned 40 the same year my youngest child was toilet trained, marking my emergence from 10 years of a having-babies haze. When I took a good look at myself in the mirror, I had some questions: Why is my winter coat older than my middle-schooler (with a broken zipper and faded seams to prove it)? Why do I wear ugly old race t-shirts to the gym in the age of Fabletics and Athleta. Why do events like funerals, work meetings, and High Holidays send me into a what-will-I wear panic? I can’t blame my disheveled appearance on my babies anymore.  I have some shopping to do.

4. Things are getting invasive.  

I have been blessed with good health and I’m pretty good about preventive care. I get blood tests as advised. My skin is checked by a dermatologist now and then. I have annual gyno exams. But my annual check-up at 40 came with a few unpleasant prescriptions. My family history means colonoscopies had to begin this year instead of at age 50. I need 3D mammograms from now on. I can’t read the fine print anymore…reading glasses are in the near future (though I can’t focus on that now, hee hee). And that derm check-up: it found a spot of skin cancer on my back! (It has since been removed and I’m fine.) This is not the fun side of the 40s.

5. Real life is now.  

JR and I have always wondered when we would feel grown up. Will we feel like adults when we get married? No, we’re still in our 20s! When we have a kid? Nah, we have no idea what we’re doing! When we have two? When we move out of the city? When we host a Thanksgiving dinner? When?! I figured one day we would leave the figuring-everything-out stage and arrive at “real life” but it never felt like that day was today.

Well, I think we may be there now. We put down roots in a peaceful small town, we own a house and hope to live here for at least as long as we have the 30-year mortgage. We have 3 kids, none of them new, and there are no more to come. My series of jobs has turned into a career. We have a Bar Mitzvah date in the calendar for goodness sake. I look at my oldest nieces and nephews, finding their way through their post-college years, and I do consider them to be grown now, but I can’t pretend to be in the same stage of life. All signs point to me being a real adult. It’s finally happened. 

This realization doesn’t make me feel wistful about youth as I feared it would, though. Having stuff figured out feels rather awesome. And the massive responsibilities that come with this full grown-up life do not feel like a burden. They feel like a gift.

Happy 41st Birthday to me. 🙂

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