Two weeks ago, I turned forty. Forty. 40. 4-0. And I’m having a hard time.
Any girl who has lived within her 40’s, for any length of time, has assured me that I will love it. Girlfriend after girlfriend has given me a glimpse into the self-assured, confident, peaceful life of one within her fourth decade. And for all intents and purposes, I have no reason to think otherwise. Great marriage, functioning children, lovely friends, and a healthy view of myself within society. But there is just… something. Something that keeps me from fully embracing it all.
I think that something is all in the number.
I have to get glasses. Why? Because I’m forty. And everyone keeps telling me that. The lady at the gift shop, at a fancy hotel, as I was experimenting with their cute eye enhancers, said, “Oh… you must be forty.” SERIOUSLY?! The eye doctor confirmed it. “Yes, after forty, things begin to change.” Thanks for the clarification. My husband successfully received his spectacles at ten, without so much as a, “Well, you’re turning ten. It’s all downhill from here.” If I had known that this was an issue, I would have gotten glasses at thirty-eight. Just to be on the safe side.
So tomorrow, I will head to the box store and fill my prescription. (And just a side note: as I was realizing more and more that glasses were eminent, my fashion conscious husband, wearing his Armani frames, suggests that I “just go to the dollar store and pick up some readers.” Ahhh… no. If I have to do this, I’m gonna be cute. Amen?)
I, also, remember my mom being forty. Don’t you? I have a working knowledge of forty being a real “mom age.” I would have been ten, participating in our home life, aware of birthdays and anniversaries, and the way that years climb upward. I don’t remember her ever worrying about cute glasses, but I do remember the field trip chaperone, the soccer mom, the youth group corn dog maker, (assuming one really makes those. I should probably give my mom waaayyyy more cooking credit than that). And most women who are going to be mothers, will do so by the time they exit their forties. I just can’t figure out why I’m so reluctant to join the club.
I think the bigger issue is that my mom was only a mom when she was forty. To me, in my world, in my head, that was her only identity. I didn’t see her as a competent military wife, or a loyal friend. It never crossed my mind that she had interests, or ideas, or hopes, or dreams, outside of being…a mom. That’s all she seemed to be.
And that scares me.
It really is funny that I formulate words for a mom blog, because I have rebelled against all things that cause me to only be seen as a mother. I don’t want to join mommy groups or attend play dates because I want to make sure that my identity is rooted in so much more than just motherhood. I want to be seen as a competent engineer’s wife and a loyal friend with interests and ideas, hopes and dreams. All those things that I never saw with my own mom, until I became a mother.
Ladies, I try so hard to not take the privilege of motherhood for granted. I know millions of women are dying to have this identity crisis. (Truth be told, one of them was my own mother. She struggled with a twelve year journey of infertility that resulted in my adoption. So the magnitude of motherhood is not lost on me. At all). But, I do take it for granted. And sometimes I want it to be over. I want to eat when I want to eat, and have the first hug from my husband when he gets home. I want a quick trip to the store that does not require me to stop and check out character band-aids. And what if my house could stay clean for more than fifteen minutes and I could sleep past 7:02 on the weekends? What if I could actually remember my interests, ideas, hopes, and dreams?
Dang, I wish I could tie this up in a pretty little bow- in the same fashion that I like my movies. But I can’t tonight. I’m just stuck in the hard stuff. The stuff that is raising three ducklings, loving my man, and if I was honest, losing some of myself in the process. And that is really hard. I think that’s why forty is a bit daunting. In this decade, the whole decade, I will be a mom of three children, trying to keep my head above water, my eyes fixed on Jesus, praying with all that I am that I don’t screw them up.
I have no idea what forty holds. They truly could be my best years yet- and I’ve had some good ones. I do know that I need to wrap my head around it. Quickly. Because it is going to move on without me and the last thing I want is to be a spectator in my own life. So, the next time, at Target, when the five-year-old says, “That’s a nice a nice shirt, Mom. It looks like a ’40 shirt.’ Like, one you wear when you’re forty,” I’m going to buy it. Because I am forty. And she’s watching me.