Wow. It's here. Today. The big one. The one I never thought I'd make it to. Forty. I can barely type it.
But you know, so far, it's really not so bad. Eight made me "coffee-in-bed" (bless her little heart, the "on" button wasn't working on the coffee machine and she couldn't get the milk carton open. I didn't mind helpin' her one bit when she came up with the carton while I was all bleary-eyed in bed. God forbid Twelve help her.) Anyway, she also made pancakes (again, with my help as Twelve was too busy with his Playstation 3 head-set on and was in video-game bliss) and she answered the phone all morning taking birthday messages for me while I rested. What I am finding, though, is that with the journey to forty comes the culmination of at least some wisdom and a little bit more acceptance. Forty brings decisions, (some that are life-altering), realizations, (the ah-has! we all heard about from Oprah) and the Grand Puba of all... the "fuck its/yous/thats". Sometimes I like those the best. It means my skin is thickening and that I'm not running around with my tail between my legs all the time. Certain things and experiences are still a little frightening to face in some ways, but also exciting in others. I don't know - maybe forty is going to be better than twenty. Mentally at least. What follows are some observations, lessons and some things I've accepted up to this point in my life:
- These days, I wait anxiously each month for the "beast" to come, NOT for fear that if it doesn't I could be pregnant, but out of fear that its absence could mean I might be experiencing those types of changes that indicate I will be growing hair in bad, more-visibly unacceptable places. When that shit happens, I'm just throwin' in the fucking towel.
- Gone are the days when I'd fling my bra off ASAP in order to free the girls. Now I sleep with said bra in hopes that I can re-train them to lay where the good Lord intended. But really, it's like trying to re-elasticize a rubber-band. Impossible.
- The allure of a thong is wearing off. All thongs and anything resembling a thong have somehow migrated to the bottom of the undies drawer. Not to say that I completely ignore them altogether, but lately I have more important concerns for my ass than whether I have panty-lines. The temptation of the three-pack of Hanes bikini undies hanging in Target's intimate apparel aisle won out one day: I circled around with my wagon and finally threw in the stupid pack. For a moment, I even considered going up a size AND to briefs just for the sheer promise of MORE comfort. Comfort over style is totally age-related, although it has yet to completely win. I am not ready to give in to panty lines AND the promise of total comfort and belly-coverage all in one shot.
- I have accepted I've reached that level of uncoolness we all dread as parents. Here I am, thinking I can kick ASS at Wii Just Dance, but all Twelve has to do is wiggle his hips and flick the Wii remote and he wins - every fucking time. And then there I am laying, on the couch, winded and sweaty and listening to chants of "DORK DORK DORK" coming from his wise-ass self. Is it wrong that I've come ::thisclose:: to saying "fuck you" to my child out of sheer frustration?
- Not to say I don't want to look nice when I leave the house, but I've found as I get older, I don't care so much about how awful I look sometimes, either. I mean, really... sometimes it's easier to fall asleep in what I'm already wearing and much easier not to have to get dressed again in the morning. What...? I have to be fashion conscious just for school drop off and a stop at 7-11? I don't know if throwing a sweatshirt over my recycled outfit really does constitute a brand new outfit or if it just means I'm old and lazy. (pause) Okay, so after re-reading that, 1) it sounds yucky, and 2) I've decided that yes, I AM old and lazy. But because I know for a fact SEVERAL people who've done that, too, (and there are a few people I can add to that list with some degree of certainty), I don't care that I actually wrote it. Some of you are nodding to yourselves saying, oh my god! I'm not the only one! Don't deny it.
- The fact that I don't care that I wrote that above means something BIG for me.
- As I get older, the more I enjoy saying really bad, offensive words. I can't help it. I LIKE it. I say them often, too. Even to my mom, Sixty-Seven. (Well, she says them, too, so.... we're even).
On a more serious note, I really have come to many things leading up to this decade of my life. I've realized that in my quest to please others, I've oftentimes made things harder for myself and allowed other people to hurt me. I know now that I can't always please everyone and it's okay. And those that have hurt me are long gone from my life and it no longer affects me negatively. They're in my past for a reason: lesson learned, moving on.
I've learned that the further I am from perfect, (or trying to be), the better off I am. My faults make me strive to better myself, they motivate me, and they keep my determination alive to fight for what I want and need. Perfect, truly, is overrated and I've come to like and accept my idiosyncracies.
Life really is a journey and sometimes our paths veer off to places we never knew existed or ever thought about taking. But, as Frost said:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
So, if my life takes me onto a different path, well damn it, if it ends up making all the difference, then so be it.
And finally, I have met and I have known many people in these 40 years and while some have come and gone, they were probably there for some reason. Maybe I learned what I needed, (or didn't need, for that matter) from these people, or maybe they came and went because their paths took them another way. Whatever the reason, so be it.
Then there are those that came and went, who added nothing to my life but heartache. I've learned not to cry over experiences or people like that in life anymore - they're not worth the tears or the emotional exhaustion from crying them. I've learned how to weed out the good from the bad because of these types. While I say "good riddance," I'm still grateful for the lessons I've learned.
Then there are those friendships that have sustained throughout the years; those that have been unsinkable through the good times and the stormy ones. These are the friends that are considered as part of my family. These are the people I know who love me.
So, tonight as I celebrate this milestone, I raise my chocolate martini glass to these people:
-To those who have touched my life, whether in the past or present, I am nothing but thankful.
-To the people who make me cry from laughing so hard, and you all know who you are, laughter is most def the best medicine for anything that ails a person.
-To the people who move me to tears simply because of the admiration I have for them, or for sharing their struggles, and for demonstrating their strength during these struggles. How wonderful and generous that you've invited me into your lives and allowed me to stay and share with you.
- To the people who bring out the parts of me that I never knew were there,(or the parts of me that were there but were afraid to come out), and who allow me to be exactly the person I've come to be at this ripe ol' age. Throughout my life, I've often wondered who I was and what I was all about because I've never had the confidence or courage to see things in myself and allow them to just "be." Then unexpectedly, this person who's always struggled with herself finally does come out and does so quite naturally and without much fanfare. I see the same face in the mirror, but I see a different person behind the visage. People who have come into my life and who have helped me, even unknowingly, with this type of self-discovery and acceptance are the types of friends everyone needs. I'm grateful to have them because the gift they've given me is priceless. I do hope and pray they know who they are, and if they don't, well... there will come a day I will make certain they do.
So, as Thirty-Eight Plus Two (a.k.a "Forty"), I finally seem to be learning things in life, -things about people, things about myself -that have great significance and staying power. While I count my blessings of what I have and what I once had, I am looking forward to what else lies before me, what path my life may take, and the people I may encounter. And along the way, I hope that I, too, can touch people's lives in a positive, memorable way.
Love and cheers from Ol' Forty.