I just fired off my first official “happy 40th birthday” e-card to one of my friends.
It’s happening. I can’t stop it.
I have a feeling that my own impending 40th birthday this year is going to come accompanied by a big dose of freak-out. I say this because I’m having a bit of a freak-out just thinking that my friends are all turning 40, before me, and soon enough it will be my trip down the slide. It will be just like when I hit 30, that assessment of the past ten years and the realization that I have done exactly jack shit during that time.
It’s six months away and already I’m investing the angst. What fun.
Intellectually I know that 40 isn’t all that old, per se, and that I could reasonably have another 40 years of life left in me. So I’m trying to take care of myself, because in another 40 years who knows how things will be. I certainly don’t want to be an old-thinker and in order to keep my brain thinking young, vibrant thoughts, I’m trying to take care of the body it’s in. A wise 74-year-old man told me once to take care of my body while it’s young and it will take care of me when I’m old and I’m inclined to take heed because this man bicycles 10 miles a day.
Still, I’m finding myself using points of reference like “that was 30 years ago” and the dreaded “when I was your age” and oh my god my inner child rolls her eyes because I sound just like my mother. Apparently there is no cure for this.
And I think of myself as young because I have a child in kindergarten, though if I think about it further most of my friends have kids in high school and believe me we are far too young to have teenagers. What gives? Of course it’s all a matter of timing, a lot of my friends got married right after high school and/or during their first two years of college and had their first kids right about the time I was tapping the last keg of my college years. I was in no hurry to get married, and in no hurry to have a child, and so far I’m pretty pleased with the timeline of my life in that regard. I don’t think I would change a thing. Still, I am what you might call an “old mom.” I don’t think about it too much until I get around the other mothers of Spawn’s classmates and it’s pretty obvious that I am the oldest one in the room. And Spawn is my only; some of these other mothers have two or three older children, meaning they started on the baby train a lot earlier than I did. Where some might look to me for wisdom just by virtue of my age, I just can’t hold a candle to these young moms who’ve been there, done that before.
I’m trapped in a weird place.
What have I done with myself in the past ten years? I guess that could be defined by what I haven’t done, too. Since my 30th birthday I’ve managed to collect a mortgage and a kid, and keep the same husband and more or less the same job. All noble and above-board endeavors, to be sure. I’ve also not written the Great American Novel or even a mediocre essay for publication.
My life feels like a holding pattern, and I get the sense that my generation’s time in the spotlight is nearly over. The seeds for my midlife crisis are effectively sewn.
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