Ten Things I Never Thought I'd Be...at Forty
1. Tattooed. When I was young, I thought tattoos were for people who smoked and rode motorcycles and didn't wash. I don't know where I got that idea. I certainly didn't know anyone with a tattoo, that I knew of anyway. Now I've got two tattoos of my own. I don't smoke, I've been on a motorcycle twice, and I promise I wash.
2. Forty. Well logically, of course, I knew in my head that someday I'd turn forty years old. Duh. But do we really believe it in our hearts before we get there? Suddenly thirty-nine rolled around and I panicked: "Oh my gosh, I'm really going to be forty! I still feel twenty-five!" When I was in my twenties, I thought that once I reached my forties my life was pretty much over. I had my whole life mapped out, but somehow the road disappeared into the mists somewhere around my thirty-ninth birthday. (My road map post here, in which I try to answer the question, "Are you where you wanted by be at forty?")
3. A completely unreasonable grouch. File this in the "I'm never going to say that to my kids" category. I was going to be the fun, nice mom. Sometimes I'm fun and nice, but sheesh, how many times do I have to tell these kids to close the freakin' door and stop picking their noses and for cryin' out loud pickupyoursocks?
4. A stepmom. Parenting someone else's child was not on my road map. I don't see my lovely lady as "someone else's child" really. She's mine right along with the rest. But unlike my boys, she's not all mine, so I have to share. It's challenging and rewarding and frustrating. Parenting a teenage stepchild is full of landmines, from "My mom says...." to "Why are you always picking on me?" I remember when I was a kid my mother was simultaneously my best friend and the most annoying and unreasonable person in the entire universe. (Sorry, Mom.) With my lovely stepchild there's a split: Her mother is her best friend, and I am the most annoying and unreasonable person in the universe. My wonderful stepdaughter is a strong and sweet and loving young lady, so I expect we'll make it through these years relatively unscathed. Eventually. But I may just bite my tongue clean in two before we get there.
5. Impatient, cross, hasty, impulsive, sentimental, lazy, shy, and not very serious or ambitious. Like I said before. Somehow I thought that all of this stuff would disappear. With age comes wisdom, right? I thought I'd have all the answers by now. Well, rats, I'm still not perfect, go figure. But now I like myself anyway. I've come to terms with being human and all of the joys and challenges and flaws that come along with human-ness. I find that I am more tolerant and patient with all of the perfectly flawed messy imperfect humans around me. So maybe that wisdom is coming along after all.
6. Wrinkly, saggy, stretch-marked, droopy. Another "Well, duh." No one makes it to seventy or eighty or ninety with smooth glowing skin and their perky parts still in the right place. Not naturally anyway. And it's not like you wake up on your seventy-third birthday to hear snap-crackle-pop, and all of your parts suddenly turn to jello. It's been happening all along, but it's kind of like turning forty-- you never really think it's going to happen until you look in the mirror and see the crow's feet (in spite of the daily moisturizing), and the girls start sagging (in spite of the appropriate supports), and your belly looks like a road map (in spite of the vitamin E oil rubbed on the belly during each pregnancy).
7. A sushi-eater. Raw fish? Bleah, no thanks! Then I actually tried sushi. Blame loving husband for this one, he took me out for sushi on our second date and being the good sport that I am, I ate raw fish. Ok, I lied, I wasn't being a good sport. I just didn't want to look like a stupid bumpkin on a date so I ate it. Yum-my!
8. Mom to a child with a disability. When I dreamed of having a daughter, I envisioned ballet classes and tea parties, not autism. PTA not IEP. This child has given me back every pre-child "My kid will never do that" in spades. What a lesson in humility, grace, and acceptance. Would I trade? Not a chance. I've been given exactly what I need.
9. Making fart jokes. I mean, come on. When am I going to grow up?
10. Content. Full with the richness of life. Who knew we could be happy even though life isn't perfect? Who knew that little things, this quiet life, could offer so much depth? I thought contentment was settling, that settling was boring and stuffy, that domesticity was inner death. I was wrong. Life is good.
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