I’ve got a big birthday coming up this spring, gang. Fifty. Hence, my pictures of fabulous older women throughout this post.
It sounds kind of old, doesn’t it? S’okay. I’d rather turn fifty than die, so… Plus, I’ve never been that hung up on my age. The only hard birthday was when I turned 47, which was how old my dad was when he died. That whole year, I sort of hunched over, waiting for the truck to crash into me, or the icicle to spear through my skull, or the grizzly bears to make it to Connecticut and maul me and then have Willow eat my remains.
But nothing happened, and here I am, 49.
I’ve really loved my forties, to be honest. The kids no longer needed me to change their diapers or cut their food; McIrish and I could afford dinner and a movie out once in a while. Oh, and I had kind of a fabulous thing happen…I became a published author! This career has been a dream come true and then some, so thank you for that.
But back to my age…I think I’ve learned a few things these past nine and a half years, which I will now be so pompous as to share with you.
Being in your forties is great because you really know who you are. The twenties…hey, you tried on a lot of personalities, emulated a lot friends, learned from mentors. If someone noticed you, you were thrilled. The thirties, you struggled more, realizing that this adulthood thing was here to stay. You had things to prove and worked hard to make your mark. You had to stick up for yourself and make yourself heard.
But in your forties, you’ve arrived. You know what you have going for you, and hopefully, you’ve accepted what you don’t. You’re more content to do your thing and let other people do theirs. It will all wash out in the end.You understand your value.
It’s easier to admit you’re wrong. Hey, it happens. But you’ve learned how to apologize quickly and sincerely and get over it. You’re also better at accepting apologies.
In your forties, you’ve made lasting, proven friendships. You don’t have time for fake friends or draining relatives. You no longer try to fix them; you just extract yourself from the situation. Your life is half over, give or take. Why waste it on people who make you feel tired or upset or small?
You realize that your influence on your kids is waning. Once, you were the sun and moon to your kids, and their world revolved around you. Not anymore. That’s okay (even if it’s hard some days). You did your best, and you can’t do better than that. Chances are high that your best will result in your kids being pretty good people.
You’re kinder to your body. Health is not a given anymore; you’ve lost friends to disease and accidents—friends your age, friends younger. You realize that if you don’t take care of yourself, things aren’t going to go that well. You start to understand why old people talk about their aches and pains all the time. Because they exist! You’ve come to value sleep more than ever.
You’re kinder about how you look. You’re not all that anymore, if you ever were. You’re a middle-aged woman now, and you’ll never pass for twenty-two again, and you say, “Thank God for that,” and you mean it. Now, when you manage to pull off looking good, you appreciate it more, because every year, there are more wrinkles, more gray hairs, more hairs in unexpected places, more products in your medicine cabinet. And when you don’t look good, you don’t care as much, because your looks don’t define you the way they once did.
You learn not to rush so much. The thirties were a blur of work and car-pooling and doctor’s appointments, and you’ve learned that you’re not just having a busy week; you have a busy life. Now you can handle it better. This is just how life is, and you’re dealing with it. You know what being in the moment means, and you do it more often.
You’re braver now. You care less of what people think, you speak your mind, but you’ve learned to do it diplomatically. You’re more open to change, because if not now, then when? You start to understand what “seize the day” means. You have adventures.
You realize that love is not done with you. Even if you’ve been married for decades now, you find that your spouse can still surprise you with thoughtfulness, even though most of the time, you can pretty much read his mind. You still feel the sweet shock of mutual love. And if you’re not married, you find that there are people out there who are interested in you, not because you have the shiniest hair or the cutest ass, but because you’re a person of value and intelligence, humor and experience. And if they’re not interested you, you honestly don’t care the way you used to.
May we all live as long and be as fabulous as Betty White!
Here’s a question for you: have you learned anything from the decade you’re in?
I’m giving a book away to one commenter, reader’s choice! Winner will be posted on Sunday. Thanks, gang!
You’re the winner! Contact me at email@example.com and I’ll get the book in the mail.
Thanks to everyone who commented!!
I was on deadline through mid-December and then got swept away by the holidays. It seems that I neglected to announce the winner of the prize offered in my November 19 post. Better late than never, right?
Congratulations, Laney4! You win because not only did you comment on the post, but you reminded me that I hadn’t awarded the prize. I’ll be sending you a $5 Amazon gift card!
Hubby and I embarked on one of our infrequent DIY projects this week–putting together a wooden filing cabinet. Not from any great love of carpentry or home improvement projects, but because we needed another filing cabinet. And, as I’m sure you know, it’s almost impossible to acquire this sort of furniture ready made. Sure, stores like Staples will have a few models available–if you’re willing to pay an exorbitant assembly and delivery fee. And by exorbitant, I mean enough to buy a month’s worth of groceries!
So that leaves the internet, home delivery, and DIY projects which invariably require tools we don’t have.
The filling cabinet arrived on a rainy day. We didn’t even know it had arrived, since the delivery man simply left the box leaning against the steps of our front porch. Not that I totally blame him–that sucker was heavy. But it would have been nice if he’d at least knocked on the door to let us know it was there!
But I digress. After dragging the box up onto the porch, hubby and I decided to open it and carry the individual pieces into the house, thus hoping to save our backs from too much wear and tear. I put a large sheet down on the floor of the spare bedroom and we laid everything out ready for assembly.
Not to be deterred, hubby got started. And here is where I must confess that I actually had little to do with this project. After tinkering a bit and mostly getting in his way, hubby suggested that I just let him forge ahead on his own. You cannot imagine how relieved I was to do so. He also warned me that there would probably be a lot of cursing and swearing, “because it made him feel better.”
Fine by me! I just closed the door and let him have at it.
It took three days. And, yeah, there was a lot of swearing–all of it completely understandable. Pieces didn’t fit, holes were drilled too small, there wasn’t enough glue, and the instructions totally sucked. We’ve put together our share of bookcases, tables, etc…but filing cabinets have moving parts. And that makes them a nightmare to put together, even if everything works right to begin with.
If it had been me, I would have given up in fifteen minutes and started calling handymen. Except that was a big part of the problem–we just can’t find a darn handyman/woman who doesn’t have a weeks long waiting list!
Anyway, hubby is the sort of fellow who WILL NOT GIVE UP. No matter what. It’s both a blessing and a curse, because it totally stresses him out but he absolutely must finish any project he starts. Which means, of course, that the job invariably gets finished.
I am happy to say that I did contribute to the final assembly. We moved the cabinet sans drawers to my office, and then spent 45 minutes trying to coax the freaking drawers onto the slide mechanisms. There was, again, much sweating and cursing. Finally, we just lined them up and shoved REALLY HARD. You know what? It worked.
He does good work, don’t you think? But, seriously, we just have to find a good handyman/woman one of these days–for both our sakes!
How about you? Are you the DIY type or have a family member who is? What do you do when a job around the house just has to get done? One person who comments will win a copy of my new historical romance, How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy.
No, I’m not giving away my firstborn! It took way too much effort getting him here safely for that to be an option (aside from those pesky legal issues and the fact that I’m already rather fond of him, despite him having jaws like a bulldog and lungs like a sperm whale). Instead, I’m giving away copies of my February release, FIRELIGHT AT MUSTANG RIDGE, to two lucky commentators, who will be chosen at random, winners to be posted on Sunday.
But wait, you might be saying. What? Jesse, are you burying the lead again? What was that about getting your firstborn here safely?
Yes, JauntyFriends, it’s true! Baby Doc Jess + Arizona (online pseudonym to come) was born in the wee hours Monday morning. Here’s a picture from the prior Wednesday, courtesy of a very talented friend who is working on building her portfolio, and managed to get Mr. Camera Shy to unbend and be his usual hunky self (though I’m admittedly biased in that estimation). Yep, there’s a baby in there, right? Question was: When was he going to decide to come on out and join the party?
I’m trying to come up with a clever way of telling the story of Baby’s birth without too many non-porcupine-approved bio-details, but sleep deprivation has stolen my cleverness, so I’m just going to tell it like it happened.
Just past midnight on Sunday, with guests in the house and our hospital bags only halfway packed, I went into labor, going quickly from ‘honey, my water just broke’ to ‘er, they’re only four minutes apart, we should probably get in the car.’ Despite all my protests that we wouldn’t need to panic, as first-time moms take a while and the hospital wasn’t that far away, I was starting to worry when they upped to every two minutes en route. Which got me a wheelchair ride up to the maternity ward, a quickie check-in, and an assessment by the on-call doctor, who called my lady parts ‘very favorable’ and suggested it wouldn’t be a long labor unless there was something going on in there that wasn’t obvious from the outside.
I probably shouldn’t have been so flattered about having favorable lady parts, but I’m weird that way. Unfortunately, things stalled not long after. The sun came up, the sun went down, Arizona ate all the snacks I had packed for him went on a couple of supply runs to the cafeteria. I ate ice chips, unable to keep anything else down. And we waited for the various medications to do their thing, and the doctor to proclaim me ready to push. The order came down just past 10 pm, and I pushed.
Trust me, I pushed. I saw the sidelong looks and medical vibe that labeled me wimpy, and I used the annoyance to push harder. For the longest time, nothing happened. Then a little something happened. A little more. And I saw the doctor’s expression change as she discovered that he was facing up, not down, which was part of why I was having trouble. And when, finally, he came out, we discovered the rest of the reason that he had gotten stuck like a cork in my internal bottle:
Yep, Baby H clocked in at 9.5 lbs, 21 inches at birth, which the doctor pronounced bigger than the baby she had C-sectioned earlier in the day, knowing he’d be oversize. And let me tell you–the vibe in that room went from ‘she’s tired and a little wimpy’ to ‘damn, girlfriend’ in an instant. Not to mention that in the end, what matters is that we achieved the desired goal: Arizona and I are parents!
So please join me in welcoming our not-so-little-one to the world. And for the giveaway, please leave a comment, maybe suggesting an online pseudonym for Baby H. Maybe a littler version of Arizona? Tucson? I’m not sure, and could use your help!