On the eve of 40

Tomorrow marks the day of my 40th birthday, or as my mom calls it, “the big one.”  My husband, The Captain, has another name for it.  He calls it a “decade” birthday and says kind things like “it’s not a big deal” and “it is just a stupid number” and the sweet, special insight such as, “you know, your life is halfway over.”

As with everything, these “big” or “decade” birthdays are a “rite of passage,” right? And “age doesn’t matter” and “it’s how you embrace life that gives it meaning” and “it’s just a number after all” and a million more clichés folks use to make “the big one” feel a little smaller.  Phooey.

So, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I decided to think of some cool things about turning 40 to soften the blow without sounding too much like a Hallmark card or a group therapy session.  “Hi, my name is Allison and I am going to be 40.”

The first cool thing about turning 40 is that I am now confident enough to say NO to things.  This was a hard lesson to learn, and many times I would find myself involved in activities I hated just because I felt that I had to say YES all of the time.  Now, I say what I think.  Do you want to do this? No.  Can you…” Nope.

Second, my children are potty trained.  This may seem like a small issue, but really it is not.  I don’t have any children in diapers therefore I don’t have to buy diapers anymore!  Woohoo!  That is relief within itself.  My purse can now be my purse, not a diaper bag, not a living, breathing, well-stocked necessity for every venture out of the house.  Also, I don’t have to carry any training pants in it for “emergencies” or throw away those training pants in the mall bathroom because “someone had a little, itsy, bitsy accident in them.”  Also, it is a relief to not have to stock up on Cheerios just to teach my boys where to aim in the toilet.  Cheerios have returned their “kitchen only” usage in my home!

The third thing cool about turning 40 is that I rock at the Pop Culture Edition of Trivial Pursuit.  Give me any question from the 80s to present day and I have got it.  Except for sports.  Those can just stay in the rectangle box.

The fourth cool thing about turning 40 is that I don’t get carded anymore.  This means I don’t have to wiggle my driver’s license out of my wallet which can be very inconvenient.  Really it is!  And if I do get carded, it is a compliment to how well my Clinique make-up looks.  Thank you, Clinique!

The fifth cool thing about turning 40 is that everything that I grew up with, like The Smurfs, Superman, vampires (think The Lost Boys), The Muppets, Super Mario Bros and Star Wars are all back. Back and, as George Costanza said, “Loving every minute of it.”  And guess what?  My dudes seriously believe I’m “cool” because I know about all of this crap.  Being 40, I think I may be a hero to my kids.  The force is with me.

The sixth cool thing about turning 40 is that I can brag about awesome concerts I have seen.  Now, I didn’t get the bragging rights by seeing the Beatles, but I have seen The Rolling Stones in concert (yeah, 8th row in Chicago) and Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet tour (among other Bon Jovi shows).  I have seen The Boss in Asbury Park, NJ, and Sting and U2’s amazing Joshua Tree concert.  Plus, Clapton, BB King, INXS (the original), REM, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the king of boat drinks, Jimmy Buffett.  Oh, and the Boss?  Bruce Springsteen?  Yeah, I dated his cousin when I was a ninth grader.  We went to the mall together.  Twice. And a dance. Once.  It didn’t last.

And the last cool thing about turning 40 is that I get it now.  I get that my parents were right – they were right all along.  I get that my dudes are kids and they need to be kids as long as possible.  I get that my students have a lot of growing up to do and that’s OK because they are teenagers.  I get that I can always reflect back on my 30s, 20s, and younger and know that each experience was important, priceless, and each lesson learned made me who I am today.  I finally get it.

So bring on 40.  September 11th, 2012.  Anyone up for some Trivial Pursuit?

My facial expression is one of fear. Forty candles looked like someone set the entire cake on fire.

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49 thoughts on “On the eve of 40

  1. Happy birthday Jean and great post! I’m fast approaching the next decade birthday, (ahem, refuse to say it out loud yet) and all of that is true and just seems to get truer. I do love that my filters are just going away and I don’t really give a rat’s ass what others think about a lot of things… in a good way. The scary part is that it may actually take until I’m 70 to feel like I got it “right.” Alas… Congrats!!

  2. Happy, happy birthday Jean! You’ve got the right attitude… embrace it! (And man, you have been to some terrific concerts!!)

    • I am going to try and embrace it! 🙂 It sure puts some things into perspective! The concerts were mostly by luck – I lived in NJ during most of those and it was a 45 minute train ride to NYC. It made seeing shows a lot easier!

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 I, too, think the sports part of Trivial Pursuit belongs in its own game – unless it is Pop Culture question related like which Olympian raced Prince Harry in Las Vegas! 😉

  3. Happy birthday! And I agree–all of those points are worthy of celebrating. Especially the no diapers thing. And to that I’ll add not having to fasten car seats any longer. But being able to say ‘no’ is also pretty cool as is the ability to care less about what others think. So I suppose the moral is: bring it on!

  4. This is a fantastic post! I love all the great things about turning 40. I am only a short year and a half behind you so a lot of these things relate to me and my life. Having kids that are potty trained is a total game changer and holy moly, did I love the Smurfs! 🙂

    A very happy birthday to you!

  5. Oh my precious child, what lessons you have learned…Dr. Suess loves it as much as I do! You have blessed this earth for all these years asking questions and learning that life is full of answers. God bless you always as you realize that with age comes wisdom and more love than you can even imagine!

  6. Ahhh yes, and more and more freedom comes with each successive decade birthday. I can say this from experience. There is some gold in those golden years – although there is also some tarnish.

  7. Happy, happy birthday! And yes, it’s just a number. Since I’m not yet 50, I’ve decided that 50 is the new halfway point. So, you’re safe for about 10 more years. 😉 Of course, after I pass 50, I’ll be shifting the halfway mark for you so you’re safe for quite a while!

  8. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad I found this. I just turned 30 and was having a very hard time accepting it. And then you mentioned potty trained children. And it changed my world. Bless you.

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