Forty is fast approaching for me. I’m not scared of it. Not wishing to be 30. Nor 21. I’m ready to meet it head on, to embrace it, even. But like most people, I can’t help but be reflective. What have I accomplished? Have I made my mark? Have I made A mark?? My resume is choppy, zigging here, zagging there.
So many cities, so many business cards.
PR, marketing, business writing, magazine writing.
Telluride, San Francisco, Syracuse, Portland, Seattle, Manhattan. The list goes on.
And with what to show for it?
I grew up presuming there would be a comma after my name, showcasing my special skill.
That looks kind of sad.
But I fell in love at 24 and cashed in my not yet earned chips to follow my man around the whole US of A. By the time we landed almost a decade later, I was pregnant and delighted to become a mother. Delighted to make a home for our little growing family.
Eight years and two beautiful children later, friends are asking me if I’m scared of turning 40. I’m not. Because each time I’m swallowed up by the depths of my almost-40 am-I-making-a-difference despair, I imagine the word “mother” in that empty space after my name. I am one. Mother to two bright, shiny children — they are currently my job. When I was young, my parents divorced and my mom began to work hard — very hard — to juggle being a mama to my brother and me but also to teach her students and to teach them well. She hustled and managed to make a difference at home and also at school, to shape the minds of her children and of her dozens of students. Year in, year out.
BRAVO to that.
I looked up to her and still do. Very much. I know at times her life was frenetic. Sometimes turbulent. And tireless.
As I approach 40, I am living this life on a most cellular level. Getting my hands dirty in the garden or sticky with glue from craft projects. Driving to and from school or dance lessons, running again to the grocery store where I buy from the same mind-numbingly repetitive list. I’m not always good at it. Some days are better than others. Some are…well, turbulent. Some days, my patience wears thin. But I am thankful for the opportunity to even stay home. [Thanks to my sweet husband, who makes it possible by providing for his three ladies. We are your biggest fans.] THANKFUL.
I’m doing my best to take it all in. Knowing that I won’t be wiping bottoms for much longer, that my children will grow older and not rely on me so heavily. Or that my 7-year old won’t always want to share with me the intimate details of her day.
So then I will make time for that line after the comma. Make time for those other life skills.
But — for now — no beating myself up about it. Because I beat myself up enough for the the wrinkles around my eyes. So, here’s to embracing 40.
And for embracing this: Ellen, mother.