This is Almost 40

This week, on Valentine’s Day, I will turn 39. Which means I am almost 40. I only have one more year left in my thirties.

this-is-almost-40I have always viewed 40 with trepidation. “In my thirties” sounds young. Forty, with all due respect, does not.

Perhaps I’m thinking about this more as I reflect on the recent loss of our dear 10-year-old dog ~ remembering the 28-year-old, newly-married, townhome-dwelling, panicking puppy-mama me reminds me of how different 38-year-old, almost twelve-years-married, traditional two-story-dwelling, yet still panicking human-mama me is.


Perhaps it’s the historian in me that prompts the urge to reflect on the passage of time at arbitrary age-designations that end in zeroes. I have loved the recent articles in which some of my favorite writers have pondered their similar life transitions, especially Lindsey Mead’s This is Thirty-Eight, and Allison Slater Tate’s This is (My) 39. In a similar vein, I share with you This is Almost 40.

Almost 40 is a mortgage, an SUV, college funds, and retirement accounts. It is actually enjoying the lunchtime conversations with colleagues about home renovations: egress windows, berber versus frieze carpeting, and did you check Angie’s List? It’s exciting Friday nights of watching Netflix and staying up until almost 10pm.

Almost 40 is my career being meaningful and “me-time” and a part of my identity in a way that it never was before the children came along.

Almost 30 was puppy kindergarten and house-breaking and learning to adjust my life to the demands of a little furry baby. Almost 40 is explaining death to my children and how lucky that puppy was to be loved by our family.

Almost 30 was plastic shelving in my bedroom and unframed posters taped to the wall and torchiere floor lamps from Target for $19. Almost 40 is a Pottery Barn living room and framed vintage travel prints, still mixed in with Target décor.

Almost 30 was being convinced that I had no maternal instincts nor the patience required for children. Almost 40 is discovering both in varying degrees. It is worrying about screen time and how to help with homework and how to find “good enough.”

DancingAlmost 40 is new self-confidence; it is dance auditions and performances and competitions. Almost 40 is the courage to write and share my personal and parental and spiritual journeys with the world approximately 734 people.

Almost 30 was The God Delusion and Sam Harris and Skeptic magazine. Almost 40 is meditation and yoga. It is searching for connection, purpose, and the divine, and discovering it, of course, within. It’s knowing we are all star stuff and light and molecules and Buddha-nature. It’s being okay being a little bit woo-woo.

Almost 30 was teaching women’s studies and gender theory. Almost 40 is pondering why my son likes to play violent superhero games and why my daughter loves princesses and just how much of it is nature and how much is nurture.

Almost 40 is fifteen twenty extra pounds and a fleshier tummy. It is taking longer to get over jet lag and illness and the occasional night of two glasses of wine.

Almost 40 is attending friends’ 40th birthday parties that start at 6:30pm and end by 9pm so we can get home to the grandparents who are babysitting past their bedtime.

“In my thirties” was ovulation tests and temperature charts and baby showers and maternity leaves and spit-up and first smiles and Mommy and me classes and potty-training. Almost 40 is still potty-training a four-year-old. And almost 50 will be preparing to send a child off to college.

Almost 30 was thinking that the best stage of parenthood was years zero to two, when they are cute and cuddly and don’t talk back. Almost 40 can’t stand sassy attitudes, but knows that babyhood is overrated, postpartum depression can be overcome, and that the best stage of parenthood is often rightnow, watching them become tiny philosophers and Zen masters who ponder questions like, “Why do grownups need rules if all grownups are good?”

Almost 40 is almost twelve years of marriage. It is still discovering new quirks and hearing new stories. It is romantic and friendly and mundane and comforting. It is sometimes feeling like crabby roommates, and then sometimes he sends flowers for no reason.

wedding 2

Almost 40 is full of possibility. It is less hover-parenting. It is being able to hear my own thoughts even while my children are awake.

Almost 40 is less free time, but it is more treasured and mindful and meaningful “me-time” when I can find it.

Almost 40 is stability and movement. It is discovering and pursuing my passions. It is dancing and writing and teaching and learning. It is reading literary fiction and reading Mo Willems and volunteering in my daughter’s first-grade classroom. It is book fairs and school carnivals and trick-or-treating and Santa at Christmas.

It’s doing it all, if not all at once. It’s loving it, if not all of the time.

Almost 40 is knowing the mortgage, the kids, the marriage, the writing, the career, the woo-woo, the me, are my home. Almost 40 is pretty awesome.

I have one more year in my thirties. I will approach 40 not with trepidation, but with audacity.

Sarah Rudell Beach
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Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah is a writer, teacher, and mother. At Left Brain Buddha, she writes about her journey to live and parent mindfully, joyfully, and thought-fully in her left-brain analytical life. When not working, she enjoys dancing, reading, and hanging out with her little Buddhas.
Sarah Rudell Beach
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  1. says

    Oh Sarah, I love this. I love the notion of stillness and movement, and the idea of loving it, all of it, if not all of the time. I relate to so much of this. I’m 6 months away from 40 myself,a and I am finding this transition surprisingly emotional and full of reflection. xox

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks, Lindsey, and thanks for prompting me to reflect as well. It’s so funny how we don’t see imperceptible changes day-to-day, but over a decade we can see how much we have transformed.

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks, Julie! I realize that we won’t change just because our number changes, but man, that one is creepy looking.

  2. says

    I’m turning 35 in July and while I still have a few years to go until 40, my husband is over the “hump” as he calls it and turned 41 last month. Five years flies by and soon you’re sitting around wondering where did all the time go? I’m going to make a point to enjoy these last 5 years of my 30’s while i’m still “young”. I also hope that when/if I make 40 that I approach it with the same mindset that you do.
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    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks, Michelle. It is so much in how we think of it. My husband is older than me, too, so he just laughs at my “big 4-0” worries!

  3. says

    Almost 40 is awesome. You NEARLY MADE IT!

    40 is oh-so-nearly 41, which is a most beautiful, wonderful age, and the age I’ve decided Life is Going To Be Good. 41 is old enough to know better, sensible enough to sort it out, and young enough not to give two hoots about it if you don’t want to. 41 is having your shit sorted out and being a wonderful, together kind of person. 41 is being strong and beautiful and at least halfway to having accomplished a bunch of the things I wanted when I was younger. 41 is having a strong voice and a clear mind and CONFIDENCE in yourself. 41 is drawing a line under the beginning of life and looking at the ever-increasing glory of the middle of it – the burgeoning, life-filled, joy-filled AMAZING part where things are secure and steady and awesome.

    And there’s this:
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  4. says

    40 was a pivotal moment for me. It was when everything fell into place. It was when the world finally made sense and my fear didn’t seem to occupy all my thoughts. 40 was wonderful. 40 was life changing. 40 shed light on the past 39 years. For 40, I treated myself to my dream vacation and spent my special day under the Eiffel Tower. Who wouldn’t love 40 in Paris? And now 43 is approaching and I am still loving every minute. Great post!
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  5. says

    I totally get where you’re coming from on “turning 40”, Sarah. I tried my best to stop focusing on chronological mind sets and just living each day. I’ve improved on that a little bit each time. I love celebrating children’s birthdays but I put absolutely no focus or interest on my own for just the reason to not allow it get me upset with 30, 40 or 50! This was a fantastic post and your wedding pictures are gorgeous! :)
    Mike recently posted…My First Time Chicken StrippingMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks Mike! and it is so arbitrary anyway…. just because we have a base-10 system of numbers shouldn’t make this birthday all that different….

  6. says

    Really beautiful Sarah, at first I as like “Hey! I’m 43, what’s the big deal” but as I read further, well, you really make a beautiful case for getting older.
    For me 43, is not so different. On the inside I feel the same, maybe wiser. And yes, all those physical things. But also, very much realizing babies are over-rated! This little wise fellow I get to talk to everyday is beyond my wildest expectations.
    Thank you for sharing this!
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  7. says

    First, happy almost birthday, Sarah. This was a lovely post and I really enjoyed seeing 30 and almost-40 from your perspective. You have such a gift for showing how life gives us the wisdom to live in the rightnow, and the here, and the present.
    You know, it’s funny. When I turned 30, I was really depressed and had a very hard time with it. For me, 40 was easier for some reason. With that said, I’m glad I’m not yet almost-50 (gulp).
    Really really loved this one, Sarah. And happy happy birthday, you. Celebrate.

  8. says

    I am about to turn 37 and I really enjoyed this post. Especially this: “Almost 40 is new self-confidence; it is dance auditions and performances and competitions. Almost 40 is the courage to write and share my personal and parental and spiritual journeys with the world approximately 734 people.” I am definitely more self-confident as I get closer to 40 than I was in my late 20s. I hate that it took so long! I thought I was old and grown up at 30, but we are never actually finished with growing up.
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  9. says

    Whatever age you’re at, you’re beautiful. Age is just a number, says the girl who is having the meat sweats about turning 35 next year.
    I love that you’re embracing where you came from and how you grew. You’re a special woman my dear. Rock your last year as a 30 year old and know that the next chapter is going to keep getting better.
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  10. says

    The pictures are beautiful. I said this the last time I was here: You have an infectious smile. I LOVED turning 40, and it’s been the best decade of my life, so far. No turning back, girl! Yay, to the new confident you. You wear it well! Happy Birthday, love. I hope you have a great day!
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