There’s a funny thing about me and my birthdays. Either I completely forget about them until the week of OR I start brewing and lamenting over their approach a few months in advance. I think I sailed through my twenties and thirties with just a couple of blips (hellllloooo thirty-nine. You were a fun one to watch approach). But, for the most part, they were kinda like making a hash mark on the wall of life, just clicking time away. I was like Maui on his island, hashing away time on my own little island of solitude.
As a child growing up, I think forty is the one birthday we are all programed to make a big deal out of. The Big 4-0. Lordy, lordy, look who’s Forty. Over the Hill. Mid-life crisis. You know, the whole smorgasbord of cliches and offerings. I mean, even Jimmy Buffet immortalized the milestone…That wannabe pirate was all messed up looking at forty. Still, I don’t think one really grasps what forty is (and isn’t) until you are there, face-to-face with the thing, trying to make sense out of what is actually going on with your mind, your body, and your life.
Folks, I present to you forty: A short offering of what it is to this 39 and 11/12 girl..I mean woman..I mean..teenager…I mean..ugh. (I’ll explain. Keep reading) All opinions and experiences are my own, because, let’s face it, I’m talking about me here. If you have sailed past forty and haven’t had any of these issues..well. Just don’t tell me, cause then I might not like you any more.
Without further delay, I present: Forty.
Forty is: suddenly not sleeping anymore. For those of you with small children (or puppies…same difference), do you remember falling asleep and then waking up every hour after that point and getting absolutely no sleep? Welp. This is forty. Yall, sleep has eluded me like some thief in the night, and I have teetered between buck wild mania and anger and a beat down acceptance that I will never sleep again. I’ve tried it all. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Oh sleep, why hast thou forsaken me? For about 6 months, I figured it was stress..or moving..or mothering a middle-schooler…or just life. Nope. Come to find out, hormones. (See below).
Forty is: finding yourself combing the aisles of every store you go into trying to navigate the world of face wash and beauty treatments that work for both wrinkles AND zits, because, let’s all be honest here: WHY only deal with aging when you can throw a little teenage acne in with it? Seriously though. I never experienced acne as a teenager. Like ever. And now, I am paying the piper. If they make it, I can guarantee I have bought it, read about it, tried it or plan on trying it. For the love…And those sweet little smile lines of your twenties suddenly morph into straight up crows feet stamped on each side of your face. Simple..apply aging cream. Ah, ah, ah. Not so fast..oily, thick cream pisses forty-ish skin off and makes it turn into revenge of the teenager. Simple…apply acne cream to attack pimples. Ah, ah, ah. Not so fast again. Acne medications dry your face out so you look like a dehydrated prune left in sun way too long. The dry skin makes you notice how dehydrated and old you suddenly appear, so you apply aging cream. Again. Repeat cycle. Daily. Notice no change.
Forty is: hauling yourself in for a voluntary doctor's appointments (that you weren’t forced into) because someone somewhere has to help your ass and you’re not sure if its going to be them, a bottle of magic pills, or the state mental hospital. The night sweats, the not sleeping, the breakouts, the feeling that you could possibly take out your family (or the entire check out line at Target on a random Monday) with just your eyes, or cry at every holiday Publix commercial on tv. Yall, the hormones are off. the. chain. Guess what? There's a little bastard called peri-menopause. The sweet little time in life before menopause when you are basically a shell of a woman on edge with life who could snap at any moment. Some pull the card at 45. Some pull the card at 50. I have pulled the card at 39. Yay me! Let me just say it like this. I now see why women would pry hormones out of someone’s cold, dead hands just to be able to have them.
Forty is: leaving the salvation doctor's appointment with a prescription for said miracle pills and a door prize. The order for your first mammogram. Because, you know. Forty. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. I’ve still got 1 month a 4 days to make peace with it.
Forty is: having the sudden urge to hold on to your youth. Ladies and gentlemen, I present my bathroom vanity. Yall, I went out and bought CK One perfume. They still make it. I wore the hell out of it in high school. Guess who’s wearing the hell out of it again? This chick. Want to know what’s sitting next to the CK One? A big old tube of Noxema. Cause, pimples and aging and the fact it smells so damn good. And in the shower you ask? What could be there? Two bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo. I’m not even ashamed. I mean, 1994 has called and wants its beauty products back, and I ain’t budging. All I need is some Loves Baby Soft, a few Lip Smackers, and a bottle of Sun-In and I’m set. For some reason, those products of my youth are providing some subconscious comfort, and I’m just gonna go with it.
Forty is: for the first time in your life, becoming keenly aware that you are (most likely and if you are lucky) about half way through your trips around the sun and suddenly, stuff gets real. You guys, those mid-life crises are not made of sports cars and new spouses. They are made of the fact that you keenly become aware that time is finite and you’ve ticked off a big chunk of what you have been given. Crrrrraaaaaaaaaaap. If you’re in a 9-5 job, you suddenly panic that you’re never going to chase your dream of owning your own business. If you own your own business, you suddenly panic that you haven’t made the best of your time and maybe the stress just isn’t worth it. If you’re not a creative, you suddenly feel the need to tap into that part of your brain. If you are a creative, you panic that you should have been more serious. Whatever your cross is that you bear, it is real and valid and it hits you when you least expect it to. (The fluctuating hormones do not help this phenomenon). Forty is a distinct reflection point in life. I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t sitting in the middle of it. All those things I’ve placed in the ‘I’ll do that later’ pile are sitting there looking at me, and for the first time, I find myself wondering if I will do it, should do it, can do it, won’t do it.
Forty is: slowly becoming completely and utterly checked-out on what other’s think/say/feel about you. For all of the hormone and mid-life crisis debacles, I will say that this is the one thing about turning forty that is the best. Your teens and twenties are spent trying to fit in and be a part of something. Your thirties are focused on careers or families. Then forty is a big, fat “I really don’t care what you think because I’m doing me and you just do you.” It’s kinda liberating, y’all. For the first time, I’m finally becoming comfortable with who I am and what I am and that is a really, really cool thing. I hope that forty opens up a door to this way of thinking more and more. If so, fifty and sixty are going to be a dang blast! Although, I’m fairly certain my mouth filter will be gone 100% at that point. Oh well.
I could go on and on and on. Forty. It’s kinda crazy. Ok, it is crazy. The hormones are crazy. The aging part is crazy. The wrinkles and pimples combo is crazy. The mid-life freak-out is crazy. But, mixed up in all of that crazy is a quiet realization that “Hey, I did it. And I’m doing it. And I’m going to keep doing it no matter what.” And that’s enough to make any pirate proud to be looking at forty.