Yesterday I celebrated another anniversary of my 40th birthday. Okay, okay. No more beating around the bush.
I am now 44.
Seriously, where did the time go? It seems like yesterday I was just a spry and carefree 43-year-old.
My kids and husband embraced my special day and I was lavished with beautiful cards and lots of hugs. It was a great day, full of hiking and togetherness and love. Warmer weather, steak on the grill, cooked to perfection. We drank wine, they drank purple Gatorade out of wine glasses and toasted their mommy with a celebratory clink. Blissful and fun.
Funny how different birthdays seemed for my own mother when I was a kid. The mere mention of her age would send us kids to the calculator.
You are how old?
She’s always had wash n’ go salt and pepper hair. Never wanted a color and blow dryers were not an option. Mascara, no way. She’s worn the same Revlon Moondrops Peach lipstick her entire life. She never owned sneakers and I don’t remember her ever riding a bike. Her choice of music was classical. Her choice of clothes the same. She was soooo old.
She had me, the youngest of her four children, when she was, gasp, 39!
The same age I was when I had my youngest.
Even though I thought my mom was way old, I have brainwashed my son to tell me at least twice a week that I look 20. And my daughter thinks I am young and cute. Not as pretty or as young as the other preschool moms, she tells me, but I am according to her, still cute. I’ll take it.
I do still feel like I am young-er. But then I’ll catch a glimpse in the mirror and say, Oh yeah. The woman staring back at me is in her 40s.
There are little wisps of gray hair around her temples. Color doesn’t last as long anymore. And she has those worry lines above the bridge of her nose, looking like two little exclamation points. A few wrinkles here and there, and maybe a little tired. But not too bad. Yet.
Mirrors. They don’t reflect what is inside so some days I think it’s just better to avoid them.
Mostly I feel pretty good and have no problem with getting older. I still play tennis and still hike with my husband and the kids. I still get down on the floor with the kids, ride bikes with them, play with them.
And I still laugh at the sound of a good, hearty fart.
Age is a state of mind, right? And when that state of mind starts telling you that your back hurts, your ankles are stiff and you better stop running around on your sore knee you have to tell it to shut up and leave you alone.
Many women take their 40s as a reason for reinvention. We try something new or change something or challenge ourselves further.
When I was 40, I signed up for a 39-mile marathon walk. The AVON Walk for Breast Cancer was my way of doing something different. And I got to help others to boot. My 40th birthday fell in the same year as the 10 year anniversary of my own breast cancer diagnosis. So it was a great fit.
I pushed myself hard to train for the walk, raised well over the required $1,800 and had a blast doing it with some friends who were willing to go that extra mile (or 39!) for a cause. As an aside, I highly recommend this walk. It’s an awesome girlfriends thing to do.
Other people I know have marked their 40-year milestones with some interesting things. Some went like gangbusters, others waited a bit.
One friend ran her first marathon one month into 40. One went back to school one year shy of 40. And one went back to work full-time a year into 40. Another friend of mine adopted a toddler to add to her brood of teenagers when she was well into her 40s.
It is amazing how different generations deal with getting older. We are marking milestones with things like changes and challenges. But for my own mom at least, she was always just another year older on her birthday. Since she always looked the same, (and still does at 83) we never really made any issue of her increasing age. There were no age markers other than cards, a little gift and birthday cake. Although we did throw her a shindig, much to her initial dismay, when she turned 70. (She loved the party.)
I hope to continue to at least try to grow old gracefully. Looking in the mirror aside. You can be assured I won’t have gray hair if I can help it and I will continue to shop in the junior’s section as long as I think I can pull it off. No mom jeans for me. (Though low riders are getting increasingly lower and 40-plus butt cracks are just not the same as their 20-year-old counterparts.)
I am going to smack the tennis ball as long as I can, hike as long as my legs let me, ride that bike until I forget how and attempt a few new things if I feel the need.
I hope that with each passing birthday, my family knows how huge the love I have for them continues to grow. I hope each birthday comes with the people around me knowing how dear they really are. And I hope each birthday brings with it the fact that I have at least attempted something interesting.
So, Happy Birthday to me. One more year older.
And definitely one more year wiser.