Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Life Begins At...


Yep, today's my birthday, and it seems like I've been waiting to be forty forever. Okay, I know that's not the usual sentiment--but honestly, 39 was a hard number to remember, and nobody believes you anyway. Forty's a nice, even number, four whole decades, and I'm finding life to be pretty darned good right about now.

I was talking it over with Mr. M. yesterday; I'm just not one of those people who looks back longingly on some mythical youthful age and wishes to go back there. Twenty? I was still years away from even meeting Mr. M., was taking a year off from school between the first college I attended and the second, and felt pretty much adrift. Twenty-five? I met Mr. M. that year, but had turned 26 by the time we got married. Thirty? Hatchick was born, which meant that we had three children ages 2.5 and under (one of my favorite pictures from that era, which embarrasses the heck out of the girls, shows all three of them up on our bed having a simultaneous diaper-change). It was great--but it was also really, really hectic sometimes, and there were days when I would kiss them good night, tuck them in, sigh, and wonder what life would be like when they were all responsible young ladies.

And now they are. And I have good helpers, peaceful days, time to write; I've dipped my toes into publishing waters, and have found time to become more involved and active in our church community than I ever was before. I've made friends in real life and online, and have put down roots in a place for the first time in my whole life.

None of this means I wouldn't welcome with great joy an addition to our family--I would, and admire profusely those moms at forty and beyond who are still caring for infants and toddlers. But even for them the dynamics change when your oldest children are old enough to pitch in and help; that extra set or two or three of responsible hands to help give baby a bath or help change baby or help entertain baby for thirty minutes or so is a great blessing in itself.

But the point is, I can't say that I'm mourning any particular point in my alleged youth. As I said to my parents when they were here over Thanksgiving, I feel like I've been forty since I was about twelve, and have just been waiting for the calendar to catch up.

So here are the top ten things I like about being forty:

10. Nobody assumes that you are, or should be, athletic.

9. The TV shows allegedly aimed at thirty-year-olds suddenly contain cultural references you're familiar with, which is a refreshing change from having all of them aimed at the Baby Boomers.

8. Speaking of which, you are suddenly aware that all the magazines and ads aimed at the Baby Boomers are trying to pretend that the Baby Boomers are all still just approaching forty, or barely out of that age range. And they're not. The majority of them are now between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-two. And if you're me that makes you grin wickedly with amusement.

7. You can get a really short hair cut, and even your husband--the one who held on to long-hair notions the longest--admits that it looks really good.

6. You--or, I, anyway--have one older sister who can show you the ropes of this wild new age. ;)

5. The comfortable clothes you prefer are marketed at your age group, at last. Nobody looks sillier than a forty-year-old woman trying to wear tweenage trends.

4. Dressy flats. Okay, sure, some forty-and-beyond women still cram their feet into high heels, and I didn't wait to reach forty to get rid of mine. But the dressy flats look good with the comfy clothes mentioned in #5.

3. Teenagers call you "ma'am." And look worried when they're using your driveway as a skateboard ramp and see you come outside.

2. Absolutely no swimsuit pressure. You can wear one of those skirty ones if you want, and people are more likely to be grateful instead of critical.

1. Nobody will think you're lying about your age!


Paula in MN said...

Happy Birthday and welcome to the club!

Leanna said...

Happy Birthday!

You're right on about those dressy flats, but I must admit that I after I turned 40 I sunk down to the level of wearing my Ugg bedroom slippers to the grocery store. I'm sure that's the 21st century version of going out with curlers in your hair. :-)

I hope you have a great day!

Wendy in VA said...

Happy birthday! Glad you've joined us. :o)

CrimsonCatholic said...

Happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I have one of those bathing suits and my young fashionable daughters tell me I look adorable in it!! God bless you on this your 49th year to heaven (to paraphrase Dylan Thomas)!

KC said...

Happy Birthday!!!!

molly said...

Happy Birthday Erin! You are too funny!
Blessed year!!!!!

eutychus said...

Have to say your're wrong on this one. Life actually begins at 45 (which I turned 2 days ago) But happy birthday just the same. :-)

Red Cardigan said...

Well, then, Eutychus, happy birthday back atcha! :)

Anonymous said...

I say! Many happy returns, Old Thing!


Mark said...

Happy birthday!

And thanks again for kind and good heart when I get on people's nerves.

Charlotte (Matilda) said...

Happy Birthday!

And thanks for the kind and good heart when people get on my nerves!:)

MommaLlama said...

A very happy birthday, ma'am! :-)

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Hope it was a great day - it seems like a great day to have a birthday on!

I really like St. Francis Xavier!

Jennifer F. said...

I'm a day late, but happy birthday!!

LeeAnn said...

I like #7--something to look forward to in three years! My husband prefers the semi-Rapunzel look but I have been itching to cut it short for a while now. Any shorter than shoulder-length and I get this wounded look.

Happy birthday!

Regarding #8 have you seen that ridiculous viagra commercial with the fifty or sixty year old woman dressed like a rock band groupie? "Use viagra and you will attract improbably youthful 60-year-old women in leather miniskirts!" Hilarious but so sad.

LarryD said...

Happy birthday from a new-ish reader and someone who passed 40 3 years ago. It ain't bad at all.

Tim J. said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

40 is nothing, though you may be into bifocals pretty quickly, if you're not already.

Every year is better. I just turned 48 and you couldn't PAY me to go back to 47...

eulogos said...

I won't tell you how many years it is since I saw 40.

I bookmarked the bathing suit Erin referred us to, thanks Erin. The trouble is, I really need one with a knee length skirt.

I got my bifocals at forty. I just scheduled my first cataract surgery.

I wish to be thinner, have fewer wrinkles, and more stamina in general. But happiness doesn't seem to depend on any of these things, and has definitely increased along with the wrinkles. Odd, isn't it?

Susan Peterson

Alexandra said...

Welcome to 40! I love #2! I've been wearing those skirty bathing suits ofr a few years now and I love them. They look so much more attractive and feminine.