I am actually looking forward to turning 40. No, really. I am.
My 20s were all about getting established. I finished college, got a job, bought a house, got married, earned two Master’s Degrees, worked hard to find my stride at work. My 30s were all about starting a family. I had my oldest right after I turned 30 and then we struggled for four years (read about our struggles here) until we, thankfully, had the twins right before I turned 35. The rest of my 30s have been a blur of diapers, bottles, starting school, and navigating the land mine that is almost reaching double digits with a child. I really do believe that my 40s will be, hopefully, filled with time to enjoy the hard work it has taken to get here.
There are just a few things I would like to cross off my list in this year before I get there.
Here are the 4 things I would like to accomplish before I blow out 40 candles so I can sail into my 40s with relative grace, acceptance, and ease.
- Reclaim my body as my own: All Mommas know that there is a pretty long period of time while you are having and then raising a young family where you feel like your body doesn’t belong to you. First, it’s pregnancy which takes a toll no matter how great you might feel (and I didn’t! I was so sick and then just huge for both of my pregnancies). Then, it’s having infants who might be clinging to you for nourishment as well as Momma snuggles or just for the Momma snuggles but you constantly have a beautiful, adorable, amazing appendage (or two in my case). Toddler phase brings something that my husband affectionately called “opossuming”. If you’ve ever seen pictures of an opossum momma, you know the image, but it’s basically when you have children hanging onto you whenever and wherever they can from morning to night. While my girls all still snuggle and even possum on occasion, it isn’t a constant like it was for most of my 30s. I can truly reclaim my body as my own and I intend to do that. My body isn’t the same as it was in my 20s but it can still be strong and fit and that is one of my biggest focus points for this year of 39. I want to enter 40 physically strong so 39 is my year to push myself to do that.
- Rediscover spontaneity: I am the poster child for the Type A personality so being spontaneous isn’t easy for me. It was even harder as I was working to establish my career and then working to keep three tiny humans alive. When you have to pack a diaper bag with enough snacks, diapers, and changes of clothing to survive an apocalypse just to go to Wegmans on a weekly basis, spontaneous day trips go right out the window. Now that we are a bit more portable (I mean, I do keep a snack supply in the car now!), I can let go a little bit and hop in the car for a day trip or leave the kids with their grandparents (love you!) and jet away for a long weekend with my hubby every now and again. This year, I hope to let go of the plan more and go with the flow as we discover places together as a family.
- Practice saying no as a complete sentence: I have heard this in various forms all throughout my life thus far. I am a doer by nature. I am busy all the time, as most moms are. But this year, I am going to say no to all of the things that don’t really bring me joy. Now I know that this is easier said than done, but it really is something I plan to work on this year. Obviously, there are unavoidable things that I have to do (grocery shopping, laundry, getting gas on cold mornings) but there are so many more things that take up my time that don’t have to anymore. My goal is to truly think about the way I structure and spend my days and clear out the things that I wouldn’t choose to do. And then I will say no. That’s it. No explanation needed. I don’t have to feel bad by making choices with my time and I am really hoping to get to the point by the time I turn 40 in 365ish days where I simply say, “No.”
- Take a deep breath and enjoy where I’m headed: I think one of the best things about hitting 40 is that I can start enjoying the fruits of my labor up to this point. I can truly relish the time I get to spend with my girls and watch them discover the things and people that matter to them. I can truly enjoy my time at work because I am so fortunate to work with so many amazing colleagues and students every day and what is better than that? I can embrace my relationships because so many of them have been built on years of hard work and dedication and we can support and encourage each other now in ways we never dreamed possible when we were in our teens or 20s. I can enjoy and continue to cultivate our marriage as we look ahead to how we are going to spend our time together when it is just us again so we can ease into that transition too when the time comes. I can truly enjoy my time with me. I don’t have to question every choice, every move, every outfit, every comment. I can finally be comfortable with the choices I have made and enjoy being me. I plan to focus on not over-analyzing every second of my life this year and see what happens.
I feel so blessed to be in a position to look at my 39 years so far fondly (for the most part) and say that I have done the best that I could do when I did it. This year, I look forward to the opportunity to move into the next phase of my life on my terms. I know the new adage is that 40 is the new 30 but I truly look forward to 40 being 40. For those of you approaching “milestone” birthdays, what are your goals?