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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.