No,This is 40

Okay, everyone get out your shiny new day planners, calendars, and time management apps.

Got ’em?

Good. Now put a big star around October 11. That is my 40th birthday, and you are all invited to my dance party/dinner/fun fest. I want an excuse to buy a new dress and laugh until my sides ache. And I want to be happy. Because you know what? I’m pretty damn excited about where I am and where I’m going.

I know that turning 40 is supposed to make me cry and wonder where all the time has gone. I remember the black party decorations for my mom when she hit this milestone, and the ‘holding at 39’ jokes. I guess she was supposed to be sad about being that age and that her life was over. My brother Michael did not handle 40 like a champ. It was probably because we threw him a lame family party he told us not to do. When my brother Rob turned 40, he had a big party at his house and doubled down on sporting hobbies that proved his youth and vigor. And I haven’t been exactly kind to the myth of the death of youth and fun at 40 myself, having deemed our friend Old Man Curtis when he became the first of our group to hit that age.

And now 40 has come for me, well, in nine months anyway. And though I’ve been upset about it in the past, today, I’m not. I am not giving in to the stereotype recently reinforced by the movie This is 40, and neither are a lot of really smart women I know.

First, my marriage is in a good place. My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, and we have figured out a lot about how to work together. I’m sure we have a lot more to learn, but for now, we compromise well and take good care of each other. I firmly believe my husband puts his family first and is intentional in the way he loves us. We’ve survived loss, new lives (Twins! What a fun marriage test!), and two years in Poland away from friends and family. Also? My husband is hot with grey hair at his temples and his toned legs from walking to work every day.

My twins are going to be in kindergarten when I turn 40. I’m not sure why, but it feels like I’ve reached some sort of achievement by keeping them alive until school age. It’s like I leveled up in the parenting game, and I am so ready. Though things are harder emotionally for big kids, and I already worry about how they will face bigger disappointments, I also get to watch them begin their life’s path. They have blossomed so much in this past year, and I know it will only get more interesting as they enter school. I love their perspectives on life and the way they look out for each other. I can’t wait to see the next steps.

But Stephanie, you say, turning 40 for a woman is all about lost beauty and lost opportunities. Well, to you I say:

Because I’m too busy being awesome. I’m not a super cougar hottie. I’m not Stacie’s mom. But, I’m not too hard to look at. This body has done a lot for me, and I can’t blame it for being a bit worn in places. My stomach? Dude’s been in battle. My legs? They have danced a thousand dances and continue to carry a five-year-old when needed. My face? Lined with laughter’s left-overs reminding me of how much happiness I’ve seen. (My neck? Crap. My mom told me for 25 years to take care of it, but I didn’t listen. Thank God for expensive neck cream. I will continue to buy it even if it means I can no longer afford new shoes. Yes ma’am. It’s that serious.)

I have a good vibe going on in my mental and spiritual world too.  I know me well. I’m not perfect, but I know where my imperfections lie. I’m somewhat able to work around them. For example, I know I procrastinate, and I try to fight that natural tendency with lists and self-imposed screen-time restrictions. I face all the parts of me, and I’ve even been known to make a joke or two about them. I know my passions. Writing is back in my life, and I am a happier woman for it. Not only that, but I think I’m a more driven person as well. I want to improve my writing and be read and appreciated by more people. I will write my Poland book and who knows what else. I am surprised because I guess I thought you couldn’t have new goals and dreams at this age.

My heart is also screaming out and yearning to get back to teaching. I remember going to my 10-year high school reunion. I had just decided that teaching sucked, but I had no real plan for another path. So, I worked an hourly job at Citibank and wallowed in existential questions. Could there be a better time to meet up with people who knew you when you were an over-achieving honors graduate? I cried a lot that weekend.

But now, I’m sure. I am a teacher. I love English. I would marry the rules of grammar if it were legal. I am here, ready to help you with your writing and work on my own. I want to talk about books and themes and the power of language.

I have so much to look forward to just in 2013. We are moving back to Texas. I get to see my friends and family. I get to go to writing conferences and continue to meet women who inspire me. When I went to my writing conference last October, it was like a new world opened up to me. I guess I didn’t think old ladies like me could make new friends. But I did. And they happen to be women with goals and dreams and positive attitudes. I want to start a new part of my blog that includes video lessons for families needing grammar and writing guidance, and these women helped me solidify this idea. They make me a better person, and I can’t wait to see how that manifests for me as I turn 40.

We may not stay up until dawn, but we still got it goin' on.

We may not stay up until dawn, but we still got it goin’ on.

So, Judd Apatow, this is really what 40 is and can be. It’s being at a place where you can use the lessons you’ve learned and try new things. It’s a time to enjoy some of the rewards of your hard work while you continue to seek new successes. It’s a time when anything is still possible though sometimes at a slower speed. So, if you come to my 40 and fabulous party, don’t bring any tired stereotypes or weak jokes about getting older. I will punch you in the throat and then blog about it.

So, what about you? What do you like about your age? What are you looking forward to as the next milestone approaches?

28 thoughts on “No,This is 40

  1. Good for you for not letting others define you by your age! I’m 43 and it’s fine. I like where I am and I love my life. I think there are harder questions to face as you get closer to the end of life, but 40 is nothing.

  2. I enter the “this is 40” club on Saturday. I am proud of what I have accomplished to this point in my life and have full confidence in my ability to continue to do whatever makes my life mine. I have 3 beautiful, healthy children who make me laugh and appreciate life every day. I am not having a big party but will be spending my “big day” with a man I have loved for more than 22 years (yes, my husband) enjoying a vacation I have dreamed about for years. So, 40, bring it – I’m ready!

  3. Thank you for helping me face down the three more years until I join your 40 and fabulous club. Who knew that you should apply your moisturizer on your neck and your decolletage? Yep, I’ll be getting lines there as well. Sigh. Expensive neck cream makes me feel pretty.

  4. First let me tell you how much I admire your positive outlook, way to take 2013 by the horns (I need some of that positivity), second that picture of you two is HOT! Finally, Curtis enjoyed being named in your blog and said to tell Michael “grey temples don’t count!”

  5. 1) you used Sweet Brown in your blog post. My love for you is now eternal. I’d be your sister wife if we were into that kind of thing. 2) you make 40 look sexy-WERK it *finger snaps* 3) I can’t wait for you to be within driving distance to me!!!! 4) I enjoy your writing and have delighted in seeing it and you grow over these past months 5) how you feel about turning 40 is exactly how I felt about turning 30-and I still do. I LOVE IT. 6) 2013 is your year-it’s our year-I can’t wait to see what exploits you accomplish!

    • As is my love for you since you decided to get married on my anniversary. So, we kind of are sister wives. Or something. Thank you for the kind words about my writing. I’m really happy to be doing it again. 2013 ain’t ready for our awesome.

  6. I know you are right, I know.
    When I turn 40 I will graciously follow your example, but I will probably whine all the way up to that day, because i’m childish, that’s why 😉
    Glad to hear that you are in such a good place.
    And by the way, I think you look great!

  7. I needed this post (so a huge thank you for linking up to the bloghop). I’m 35, but dreading–already–turning 40. At least, I WAS dreading it. You are going to be my role model–you are kind, supportive, generous, beautiful, and unafraid of aging, which is something I aspire to be, too. I agree with everything you wrote–I just didn’t know I did until I read this. Age 40 is going to be awesome for both of us. Please follow up to this post after your birthday and tell us how amazing being 40 is.

  8. Love this so much! I’m not 40 yet, but I’m glad to know someone else feels the same way about aging! My husband and I are looking forward to each milestone. And yes, getting kids to school age is definitely a reason to celebrate!

  9. Good for you! I’m 32 and I kind of go back and forth about how I feel about it, but mostly I’m happy to be older and more mature. I’m worried about having children as I get older, but as i see from you – it can be done. 🙂

  10. I’m glad you agree. I feel like in my family lives got very exciting at 40. Promotions, professional awards, falling in love, and parties galore at 40.

    If you keep up your good health, all your years have this incredible potential.

    I’m 30. I was fine with turning 30, but I wasn’t really happy about being 30 until recently. Right after my 30th birthday I was in a car accident and injured my back. Six months later I finally have regained a lot of mobility and am getting my life back enough to enjoy 30 while it lasts. 🙂

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