I remember when pop culture magazines started touting headlines that forty is the new thirty. Still in my twenties, I’d smirk at Courtney Cox smiling on the glossy cover and think, “Nice try, Courtney. Forty is totally old.”
But now I’m the one who’s forty. And at fifty-one, Courtney looks a lot younger than I do. Go figure.
Forty. I am Forty. That came at me fast. I’m not one of those women lamenting my age. And I certainly wouldn’t call forty old anymore. But lets be honest, forty isn’t young, either.
In the past week I felt compelled to compose some deep thoughts about turning forty. I figured I am a blogger. I should have words. I must comment on this milestone.
But life has been very busy.
I attempted to carve out time for reflection, but my efforts were thwarted by perpetual interruptions. When I woke up extra early, my preschooler wandered down five minutes later. I sent him back to bed but he’d spend the next hour coming back every five minutes to ask if it was time to get up yet. I tried hiding out in my office during nap time but was pelted with science and math questions from the older kids. I snuck off to bed early thinking I could lay in a quiet room and reflect. But my teenager flopped down next to me and relished some one-on-one time with her mom.
At one point I even tried sneaking off to paint the chicken coop. No one else wanted to do it so I hoped it would buy me time to think. Not a chance. I spent the entire afternoon yelling, “Whaaaat?! You guys! I can’t hear you!!” to the kids hollering all manner of questions from the house.
The weekend was no better in terms of extra time. On Friday night I sat with twenty women from my church at a women’s dinner. On Saturday I made a fool of myself golfing with friends. (I don’t golf.) I rushed home, showered and headed right back out to a fundraising auction to support a local school and gather ideas for the upcoming Safe Families gala. Sunday I attended church, invited a guest for lunch and spent the night around a bonfire with my kids. Monday I played catch-up during the day and participated in the Bible study I co-lead at night.
I decided it’s very difficult to reflect on your life when your life keeps you from doing so.
My actual birthday was pretty routine. I kicked off my day with early morning snuggles and requests for peanut butter fluff sandwiches from my kids. I opened my present – the first complete and new set of pans I’ve ever owned – then flew out the door to teach chemistry to thirty-four students.
I did stop at Caribou for the free birthday coffee my teenager signed me up for. The only indication that I am getting older was that my teen also had to tutor me on how to use the app on my phone – while we held up the line.
After teaching, I knocked out some Safe Families work and writing in a cafe, picked up my daughter and headed home for birthday takeout on paper plates with the family. Later I sat on the bleachers, waving and giving thumbs up to my younger kids in swim and dive lessons while chatting on the phone with my big sister across the country. We came home, ate Diary Queen cake, did the bedtime routine, kissed kids goodnight and collapsed on the couch.
It was about as regular a day as you can have. Fortieth birthday or not.
Why am I giving you the play-by-play? Because through all of this I stumbled on my big revelation about turning forty.
Forty is ordinary in all of the best possible ways.
I have incredible kids, a great husband, amazing friends, a fantastic church family, the opportunity to grow in my faith and serve the God I love. This stage of my life is overwhelming and hard and wonderful all at once.
I don’t think forty needs to be the new thirty. Who would want to go backwards? I’ve had many great and not-so-great experiences bring me to this point and I wouldn’t trade any of it. The heartache and joy along the way have made for a pretty rich life. And my gratitude runs deep. Because I can see God at every stage, always there and writing my story. Even now.
I am happy with where I am and looking forward to where I am going. I don’t think you can ask for more at forty. Except for maybe a good wrinkle cream.
Forty, lets do this.