I remember my mother’s 40th birthday.
She had a card that said, “40 isn’t old if you’re a tree” and a mug that said “life begins at retirement”. She had a big party at my best friend’s house- which my best friend, Monica, and I watched from the upstairs landing. While I have no idea what exactly went on downstairs, it was clearly a very grown up cocktail party. Monica and I- and her little brother, Jason, were banned from going downstairs for any reason. I don’t remember a lot, but I’m pretty sure my mother wore a black and red dress and that was the height of 1987 fashion.
I’m taking this trip down memory lane because The Runner turns 40 on Saturday and If I’m honest, I never thought I’d be married to a 40 year old man.
Actually, that’s not true either- there was a point about 6 months ago as one of my best friends turned 40, when I realized that all going to plan, soon Gary and I would turn 40. 40. 4 decades old.
To the 7 year old little girls staring through the railings looking down on their mothers and all of their friends, 40 was ancient. 40 was grown up. 40 was absolutely parental. At 7, I didn’t realize that the retirement mug was ironic or that the “over the hill” references were a joke. 40 was old.
To this not so little girl who is currently 39, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. 40 isn’t old. But I suppose looking at 40 feels very different than looking at even 35. I’ve achieved some of the hallmarks of adulthood- the mortgage, career, child, husband boxes have all been ticked. I have wonderful friends and enough life experience to have some self awareness and confidence- most of the time. I have hobbies that I love and neighbours whose names I know. I can use a PC or a MAC and have a barista, makeup artist, and real estate agent who know me by name. I also have the name and contact details of a plumber in my phone. In short, I think I might be an adult- at least to the outside world.
And I’m fine with it. I’m actually fine with turning 40. 10 years ago, I was most definitely NOT fine with turning 30 and nearly lost the plot in a series of meltdowns and conversations which can only be titled, “what am I doing with my life, what will I be when I’m grown up and why am I not a grown up yet?” Looking back it was exhausting- probably more so for those around me than for me.
I’m not feeling any of those anxieties now.
40 doesn’t feel that bad or that scary. Maybe it’s because I’m too tired to have an existential crisis about it, too many other things to do like make dinner, do laundry and remember the names of Paw Patrol characters. Maybe it’s because of the wisdom of age- ha! And maybe it’s because I don’t think 40 will be that different than 39 or mark any new chapters- it’s already been a big year- new house and new job. What else could 40 squeeze in?
Maybe it’s because I don’t think 40 is old- and it’s not as “old” as it used to be. Women over 40 are ruling the world- JLO and Shakira at the Super Bowl are a prime example! Jennifer Aniston is 50, Halle Berry- yup, over 50. Angela Bassett is 59, Salma Hayek, is in the 50+ club too. Honestly, the list got on and on.
I’m not panicked about turning 40- I actually feel incredibly lucky to have almost hit this milestone and to be where I am today. The little 7 year old girl is starting to think of what kind of celebrations I’ll have for my 40th birthday but maybe, first I will get some new night cream and eye cream and anti-wrinkle serum so that with any luck I’ll still get asked for ID on my 40th birthday.