Last year a friend of mine turned forty. Like many women I know, she did not take it well. When I brought up the coming milestone, she’d sink into a funk. Forget teasing her, it was taking all of my efforts to prop her back up again.
One evening she looked at me over a glass of wine and said, “You just wait, you’ll see, it’s not such an easy birthday to face.”
I still have no idea what she is talking about.
I am happy AF to turn forty this year. I have circled the date in red lipstick. I can’t wait to wake up that morning, snuggle deeper into my covers and say, “Thank fuck, I can FINALLY let all of that noise from my thirties go.”
I won’t miss the relationship woes
I got married at 30, first kid at 31, second kid at 33. We moved a few times in there, changed jobs, gained weight, lost weight, gained the weight back again. For most of the last decade, my marriage has been tossed about like a tiny boat in a hurricane. Some days my husband and I are clinging together around the mast. Other days I trying to pry his fingers loose while he hangs precariously from the edge. Instead of feeling youthful and free, I’ve spent ten years juggling kids, work, lack of sleep and misconceptions of the perfect marriage, all while carrying the weight of public opinion strapped around my ankles. It is exhausting.
Waking up on my 40th will be the first time I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If I want to shove the pile of laundry off my bed and have monkey sex with my husband, I’ll do that. If I want to shove him out of the bed and curl up with a glass of wine and a book, I can do that too. When I wake up that day, I’ll finally realize that picking hot messy sex over the book or vice versa isn’t a reflection on the success or failure of my marriage. His morning farts, my hair clogging the shower drain, the two kids trying to kill each other in the corner – those are all the signs we’ll need to remind us that we’re still stuck together like glue.
When I turn 40, public opinion can take a hike
When I get out of bed that morning, the first thing I’m going to do is build a bonfire out of my young, skinny clothes. That sequined mini-skirt I haven’t worn in 6 years. Those jeans I last wore before my first pregnancy. Definitely that interview suit with the pencil skirt that requires a girdle. I’m going to loosen the tie in my elastic waistband and say, “Listen up, world. This is how my stomach looks now. Deal with it.”
I’m going to exercise for my health, not my looks. I’m going to unabashedly eat that extra chocolate truffle and drink that glass of wine I want. I’m going to wear that dress that makes me look fat but is super comfortable and has pockets. POCKETS! I’m going to stop worrying that my coworkers will think I’m pregnant and own up to those perimenopause symptoms instead. When I go out for a night on the town, I’m going to wear whatever makes me feel hot and not give one solid damn about whether the college boy down the street agrees.
Confidence will be my new sexy
15+ years of working. 10 years of marriage. 8 years of parenthood. Forty is when I can look around and say with confidence, “I’ve got this.”
Girlfriend, wife, mother, SAHM, WAHM, working mom – every year of my thirties erased one identity and replaced it with another. It has taken me ten years to get here, 3,650 days of ups and downs, laughter and tears, wins and losses. Forty years of life lessons so I can find out how the world works, how my brain ticks, what makes a marriage stick, how many days I can let the kids skip their bath. I have studied and memorized, passed and failed tests.
When I walk out of my house that morning, I will confidently stick a proverbial name badge on my shirt and tell the world, “This is who I am.” At forty, I can trust myself to make the right decision most of the time, at work and at home and in life in general, and I can stop be ashamed to say so.
My friend made it through her big day. Over the past few months I’ve noticed the change creep up on her. Less willingness to put up with shit. More body confidence. Greater self-love. I look at her and see a woman who is flush with the knowledge of who she is and strong enough to stake out her place. I look at her and can’t help but be happy AF to turn forty.