Spincycle Diaries: This is MY Forty…
A friend of mine, relatively to her forties, posted an article about being forty on Facebook prefaced with the comment, “I’m not sure I agree.” My interest was piqued…
When I was turning forty, I was more focused on my actual birthday than what it would mean to be in my forties. My initial thoughts centered on how I would celebrate this milestone: would I have a big party or fly away to some exotic locale – “Instagram-ing” every second? Would I bring the kids or leave them behind? I imagined all sorts of different outfits to wear to my great, elaborate party or otherwise, on a day filled with shopping, visiting museums and walking from Battery Park all the way up to Columbus Circle in New York City, alone, with Mr. Niceguy – stopping for burgers and beers along the way.
Yes, turning forty was definitely the focus – so much so that I had neglected to stop and think what it would actually mean to be in my forties. Of the articles I’ve recently read, one author made a statement which rang very true for me:
I’ve never managed to grasp a decade’s main point until long after it was over
When I take a look back, I can see that my 20’s were full of learning and making mistakes, adventure, and romance: I lay the groundwork for what would become a wonderful marriage and exciting career. My 30’s brought a new set of challenges as I got deeper into my profession, started my own family and questioned the kind of person I wanted to be and the kind of legacy I wanted to leave. So what will my 40’s be about? With time growing ever more precious I’ve decided that I’d better figure this out toute suite!
Probably the very first thing I’ve noticed about being forty is that I’m certainly making a much bigger deal of it than Mr. Niceguy ever did! In all seriousness though, I’ve come to realize that it’s really important to appreciate the present. All the worrying, the planning, the preparing – these are all distractions from the now, from the moments that we can never again have: a first step, the first A on a project, basking in a moment of brilliance, or an unexpected ‘thank you’ for a contribution when you weren’t even expecting to be noticed. Building a storehouse full of vivid moments is what will sustain us in the future and help us to keep going when times feel particularly tough.
This brings me to another realization: many articles stated that we should not make comparisons between ourselves and others – comparisons only get us into trouble. I believe this is true but given the right perspective, comparisons fuel motivation. Like the other day, I saw Supermom in the parking lot – you know her: fab, fit, forty and so together. Supermom effortlessly juggles all the aspects of her life, is ever so charming and eloquent with her kids and never, ever appears frazzled, in other words, my antithesis. After trying countless low carb diets and exercise routines, trying to keep on top of this project and that, and reading all the parenting books I can get my hands on, I’ve come to learn that although my thighs will always “kiss”, I will inevitably forget about a deadline and quite often, will make some parenting expert cringe, thanks to the Supermoms out there, I strive to take better care of myself, not sweat the small stuff and be a better mother.
My last realization is that in truth, I really have no idea what I’m talking about. I mean, on most days, I feel like I’ve somehow reverted back to my teenage years, worrying about how to cover up the zit that just popped up on my forty-year-old forehead! I do things I shouldn’t do, say things I shouldn’t say, even try hard to be one of the “cool kids”! Like, this can’t be how a forty year old would behave, can it? Turning forty has highlighted some of my deep-seated insecurities! Should I spend more of an effort on my appearance and dress more appropriately for my age by ditching my Converse and jeans? Should I act more grounded and finally start reading the newspaper instead of quoting the Vampire Diaries or the Bachelor? Should I stop pretending that I’ll one day become President or Secretary of State?! Should I start acting “my age”?!
No, I believe I should not.
Forgiving my presumptiveness, here’s what I think I know about being forty (and perhaps beyond). That none of it matters. While I have no clue as to what it means to be in this “club”, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t say that I want to have a hand in its design.
I can say with certainty that by the end of this decade, I will seek out my children more than they seek me out now, I have to make more time for romance (despite the constant tornado called life swirling around me, no book takes the place of a night out with Mr. Niceguy!), I will have to work harder than ever before to not feel left behind by some new technological gizmo and that I may need to finally trade in my sneakers for more sensible shoes. In the meantime, I’ll continue to make mistakes and cringe when I think of them (like hitting myself on the head while closing the trunk of my own truck in front of all the Supermoms, or the daily insert-foot-in-mouth-itis with which I’m plagued), or continue to pretend like I know what it takes to set world policy (there are worse things than pretending to be President!). Most importantly though, I’ll learn to focus on what’s really important: my present, and the fact that as time ticks on, surrounding myself with a circle of true friends and a loving family that I helped to build, along with my not-so-grown-up spirit, are really all that matter.