“I’m so glad that you finally made it here, with the things you know now, that only time could tell. Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are. And you’re aging, and I am aging, aren’t we aging well?” – Dar Williams
I recently celebrated my halfway to ninetieth birthday. Forty-five. The Big Four-Five. Farty-fave (say that one out loud…you’re welcome). Now, when I was creeping up on my fortieth birthday, I wasn’t happy about it. I was all negatively introspective, like, what have I done with my life, I should be more accomplished and less stressed, and all of these other angsty feelings. I can’t remember who it was, but someone brought me out of my navel gazing by likening turning forty to losing your virginity; there’s all this anxiety and anticipation leading up to it, but then it finally happens, and you’re like, eh, that’s it?
I asked a friend what she thought about this as a blog topic, but framed as “Why 45 is Better Than…”. She was like NO, because when she was just cleaning, she discovered that her dishwasher had crapped out, and made the point that she didn’t worry about either cleaning or a dishwasher two decades ago. But then, added, well, as we now know, not everyone gets the experience to get old, so I hope to face it fiercely (she will, as she is one of the fiercest people I know). So I decided for forge ahead.
Here are some things I find pretty incredible about turning 45:
The shits I give have been greatly reduced. I no longer bother with a hair dryer or trying to straighten my unruly locks. I used to have pin-straight hair, which is now, post-babies, somewhere in the wavy-curly-frizzy range. I can barely manage it, and extensive maintenance and preparation is just more time than I allow myself. My wardrobe consists of nothing that needs to be ironed, and even if there is something in there that could use an ironing, it ain’t gonna happen. Also, I no longer care if you like me. I’m generally a nice person (unless you try to damage my children, in which case I will pretty much kill you), and if you can’t appreciate my personality, you can just fuck off be comfortable in the knowledge that I don’t like you either.
Body confidence. When I was younger and had a younger body, I was extremely self-conscious. If I were to get naked in front of someone would require absolutely no lights on, room darkening shades and possibly a blindfold. Now? I’m in better health than I was in my 20’s and 30’s, but I bear the markings of childbirth and age. There are stretchmarks and extra skin and scars from surgeries and injuries. There’s the chronic shitty shoulder that plagues me. But now? I’m used to this body, and I appreciate more about it than I dislike. Also, while I am in good shape, it just so happens that my shape is like an 8, with broad shoulders and big hips and boobs. But I’m also strong. I can still carry both of my children who are too old to be carried. I can lift multiple heavy grocery bags now, because it sucked when I couldn’t and complained about it.
My face. I am experiencing some peri-menopausal acne on my chin. It sucks, because the acne is clearly fighting with the wrinkles that have appeared on my forehead and around my eyes. To my face, I say, I’ve earned the wrinkles, the deep worry and laughter lines that I wouldn’t be able to rid myself from unless I had cosmetic treatment. To my sisters who have chosen that route, I don’t judge you. Do whatever makes you feel beautiful. Unless you’re that woman I saw recently who looked like she had soup cans implanted in her cheeks and whose eyes were so drawn back that I doubt she could see clearly. Yes, you, lady, I’m judging you. Freak.
My sense of humor. It’s juvenile. Because fart and dick jokes and “that’s what she said” moments will never get old, even though I certainly hope to. If you see me anytime soon, remind me to tell you the Cinderella joke I recently heard.
My intelligence and curiosity. I have to admit, when I was in the throes of having babies and toddlers, I didn’t have or make much time to read or research topics that interested me. I got over that. I’ve also gotten over a lot of self-doubt about how capable and intelligent I am. Yes, there is a large percentage of the world’s population that is smarter than I am. But I’m no dummy. I realize that I still have the potential to learn a tremendous amount, and I put a good amount of effort into reading and learning as much as I can about all sorts of topics.
Friendships and other relationships. Listen, I’m a generally a super low-maintenance person in any kind of interpersonal relationships that I have. If you are the kind of person who needs consistent contact, reassurances, phone calls, plans (i.e., if you’re what I think of as “needy”), then I am the type of person who will infuriate you and disappoint you on a regular basis. I cancel plans and forget birthdays, I often don’t read and/or reply to emails or texts, and if you call me, I will likely throw the phone across the room instead of answering it. I don’t mean to be inconsiderate or forgetful, I’ve just learned to embrace my introverted self. And likewise, if I send you a text and you don’t reply for days, or even weeks, I don’t get offended. Doing this grownup thing is kind of stressful and busy, so I know that you sometimes have bigger things on your hands that supersede my “whatchoo doing?” messages. But know that, whether we have known each other for decades or weeks, if you have a genuine need, I will drop everything and be there for you. I’m good at taking care of things behind the scenes. If you have emergency child care needs or a sudden traumatic or celebratory situation, you call me and I will pick up everything in your wake.
Gratitude and spirituality. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve distanced myself further and further from organized religion. I now believe that I don’t need to identify as Catholic or Jewish or Buddhist to be a good person, to be kind and loving, to appreciate all sorts of beauty in the world, or to express my gratitude for all of the good things in life.
Speaking of gratitude; that halfway to 90 day was fun and yet routine. I was very grateful for the extra hugs and snuggles and love from my babies, but I also spent a few moments being grateful for the two people who are responsible for me being here in the first place. I want to thank them for believing in me that day, 45 years ago, and every day since. I was named after a beautiful lullaby, and I do hope that I live up to their expectations and dreams for me. I’m not done yet, Mom and Dad. And I like the world just fine, so far.