About a moth ago I turned 40. I’ve had so many thoughts about this significant milestone over the last six months, over my lifetime, really.
I’ve anticipated this transition with dread, fear, self-doubt and hope.
My 30th birthday was rough simply because I loved my 20s. I was incredibly self-indulgent and not super-responsible or accountable to anyone. I met and married Jake in my 20s, and together we committed to adventure together. We traveled all over the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America. We followed our passions and pursued our own interests. We worked to pay for our pursuits.
And then I unexpectedly got pregnant. We’d always said kids were something we’d do someday, but we weren’t one of those couples who’d determined it was time to start trying or that we were ready. In fact we were in no way ready. And yet, at 29 I became a mother. I realized mothering was something that I was passionate about too. I loved this little being more than I loved anyone in my life. I gave all of myself over to motherhood and I was happy to. At the same time I was keenly aware of all I was letting go of – a life that was mine alone, all my indulgences, putting my desires first. I turned 30 after a year of this new reality. I was learning what mothering wee ones required (I was in the thick of it) breastfeeding, sleepless nights, diapers, no personal space.
And so for me, the transition to 30 carried the weight of all that I was leaving behind in my 20s. It was rough, scary, shocking.
That and the fact that 30 sounded old. So much more adult than I’d ever experienced.
And as it turned out, my 30s were full of all those adult things – growing up, giving of myself to other humans that I loved so much more than I ever imagined that I could. We had two more kids, and I chose to stay at home with them because I couldn’t imagine anyone doing a better job at caring for them than me. And although I loved it and wouldn’t have made any other choice, I was always aware that my life was not my own.
And so in some ways, this transition to 40 feels incredibly freeing to me.
I feel excited and hopeful about the freedom I’m experiencing as my kids become more independent. We are done with the diapers, co-sleeping (for the most part), breastfeeding, and complete dependence that comes with littles. And with their increasing independence I am getting little tastes of personal space.
All thee kids are in school now (1st, 3rd and 5th). I started working outside the home again when we were in Nicaragua and continue to work now that we’re back in Texas. I’ve been at my job for about a year and enjoy the creativity and challenge that come along with it. I am excited about what is possible in this newfound independence and the ways that I can invest in myself and my passions again. This is all wonderful!
At the same time, 40 is still 40.
It carries with it these ideas of midlife and aging and wisdom, the weight of what society expects of us by this age. I realize I can look back on 20 years of adult life. And although I can look back with nostalgia and gratefulness, I also realize that if I do live a relatively healthy and long life, I’m about halfway to the end. This is literally the mountain top, the peak, the top of the hill and I’m technically heading downhill from here on out. That’s sobering.
I’m reminded of Mary Oliver’s words, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
And I feel compelled to enter this decade with intention.
I’ve been working on a list of 12 month-long commitments that I’ll focus on throughout the year. These are activities, passions, interests that I’m planning to pursue. It’s my way of celebrating the place that I’m in – right now. It’s my way of embracing this decade – welcoming it. To be present and to pay a little more attention to me again – now that there’s space for that.
I’ll list them out here – just to put it out there. We’ll see how this goes.
November – A month of running at least five days per week.
December – A month of daily morning meditation.
January – A month to begin The Artist’s Way
February – A month of experimental photography – a shot a day for 30 days.
March – One month of Texas trails. I think this might amount to one trail per week.
April – The month I get my tattoo. I’ve had this beautiful tattoo in my head for about 10 years now. And it seems like this might be the appropriate time to do it.
May – One month of beautifying my home. I hope to tackle one home improvement project per week.
June – One month of yoga every morning.
July – One month of juicing. I’ve wanted to incorporate juicing into my life for a while now.
August – One month of blogging everyday.
September – One month of daily ab work.
October – One month of generosity. This one is still coming together in my head, but the idea is that I’m intentionally generous – that generosity is the starting point for the choices that I make.
I think my hope is to keep track of progress monthly here.
So look for a November update coming soon.