Yesterday was my birthday, and as I opened my eyes to the dawn of a new decade in my life, all I could think was, "Okay, I'm forty...Now what?"
I'll be honest, I hadn't been looking forward to this age. Really, does anyone get excited about turning forty? No one I've ever known. It's not like turning sixteen and finally being allowed to date. Or reaching "adulthood" at eighteen...or twenty-one...or even thirty for that matter. At least with thirty it wasn't so much a sense of putting youth behind as it was of getting into the real meat of being a responsible, and hopefully respected, adult.
With thirty, there's a sense that people will stop saying, "Oh, you're just a young pup..." and start treating you with the belief that you know what you're doing because you're in your thirties now. It's like, the thirty-something years are supposed to be a training ground of sorts. You've got ten years to put the last of your childishness away for good, and figure out all those super-serious adult things that will eventually carry you into old age.
Maybe that's why I spent the last year dreading the idea of turning forty. Not because of the changes it would bring...wrinkles in place of fine lines, sag in place of lift, gray in place of whatever color God (or a bottle of Clairol Natural Instincts) blessed you with. I've certainly never considered myself any kind of beauty, so the physical aspects of growing old never bothered me. (Although, in all honesty, I have to admit...I do like to brag occasionally that I still don't have a single gray hair. Hah!)
No, it's all the mental expectations of my advanced age that fill me with fear. While other parents are giving their teen-aged children glimpses of "the real world" by way of driving lessons, talks about insurance, saying no to drugs and the like, I'm too busy having fun with my kids in their world. I feel like the most important words of wisdom I can pass along to my fourteen-year old daughter right now are, "Never, ever, under any circumstances, give yourself a home permanent."
So, there I was yesterday morning, laying in bed, pondering what being forty is supposed to mean, when my big girls came in to treat me with breakfast they'd made themselves. As we sat together, getting toast crumbs on the bedspread, my fourteen-year old said, "You don't look forty." I replied, "I don't feel forty." And my eleven-year old said, "You don't act forty."
And that's when the obviousness of it all hit me. Being forty doesn't mean anything. It's not about getting old or being a more mature adult. I'm forty years old. Whoop-de-doo. I'm also a pregnant, homeschooler getting ready to move into her first home that won't belong to someone else (and will consequently be the last time I move...ever) where we will plant our own garden and orchard, raise our own chickens and pigs, and laugh with the kids until I nearly cry at utterly random things. (Cinnamon buns!)
Okay, I'm forty. So what? It's just another meaningless number.
And right now, it's my turn on Guitar Hero. Rock on!