Self-Indulgent Reflection

Thursday, September 12, 2013
40 is kind of a scary age.

Not that I am scared; in fact, so far the forties are turning out to be the best time in my life. But it's a little bit scary because we have left our youth behind. We're almost halfway to a hundred years old (that's what I'm aiming for). When I was a child, I always wondered what it would feel like when I got to 40. It seemed so old and so middle aged, but now that I'm here it doesn't seem old at all. I have a few more wrinkles and quite a few more grey hairs, but I still feel young. I still have a body that works well most of the time and all my teeth and sometimes I still get told I look too young to be a mother to 4 children (that's definitely a good day when that happens)!

My childhood was pretty awesome, but when you're a child you're still learning about the world and how it all works.

Then along come the turbulent teen years. I loved my teens. I had a good time, but in hindsight I wish I'd studied more at school, and I wish I'd been less focused on boys. I don't think university has or ever will be the place for me, but I wish I'd focused more on my grades than I had on honing my skills as a flirt. I've always been one of those girls that naturally prefers the company of men more than women, and when I turned 16 I began to realise the power of that, which gives me some really good and funny stories to tell now, but; well, hindsight can be a terrible thing!....
See this photo - I love it because I was carefree and enjoying life. It was taken at my grandparents house by my boyfriend at the time.

 I wish I had known at 16 what I know at 40. It's such a perilous time really, but also a golden time, and a time you will never ever have again in your life.

The twenties is all about discovery. Discovering yourself, the world, and where you fit in. But even so, I still wish I knew at 20 what I know at 40. It can also be a decade of massive change. It was for me. When I turned 20 I was working, travelling the world, learning my craft, meeting interesting people and storing up experiences that would enrich the 'home years' ahead of me.
This photo was taken in Indianapolis, when I was living in the USA.

I got married and got pregnant all before I turned 30, so that by the time the end of the twenties decade came around, I was knee deep in nappies and baby vomit.

Loving it, to be sure. It was a new experience and new experiences are stimulating. Precious babies came along to enrich my life, but the thirties were busy. I had to put aside my own cares, my own ambitions and my own needs for the sake of these little people. Parenting has to be one of the most rewarding things you can ever do, but it also comes with a lot of self-sacrifice and a lot of sheer hard work.

Here I am with my first born son. I was pregnant with my second when this was taken and in the middle of terrible morning sickness.

By the time the end of my thirties came around, I suddenly realised how much I had changed in 10 years. It was a decade of epic change. I went from a young bride with starry-eyed visions of what my family would look like one day, to reaching 40 and knowing what my family looks like. Knowing what I like and knowing who I am. The thirties were, for me, that time of discovery. No more perilous relationships with boys and dating and travelling the world wondering where I would fit in. But a time of settling and nurturing and loving and grounding; and finally, waking up at 40 and realising the richness of life and the possibilities that life can hold. The realities of marriage and child-bearing and parenting and tragedy and watching your children go through health struggles (another blog post for another day), and making ends meet and the daily grind of survival makes you savour the past, learn from your mistakes and your triumphs, enjoy the memories of a rich history, and to gather together all those lessons and open your eyes and look around you at the world with a freshness that laughs at the naivety of 16, but still know in your heart of hearts that starry eyes still dream of a hopeful and interesting future.

I am loving my forties. I am loving watching the hard years of investing in my children pay off as I see them blossom and grow into themselves; and yes, with that tinge of sadness but satisfaction that every mother feels as we watch them grow in independence, pulling away from you even when they are near, still clinging to 'home', but knowing that the day is soon coming when they will spread their wings and leave you.

I'm loving the rediscovery of me, without the doubts and insecurities that plagued me when I was young.
Are the forties the best time of your life? Will I say that at 50? Maybe the 50's will be the best years. I won't know until I get there.


Sandy Addison said...

So loved your trip down memory lane and can't quite believe I have known you for half your life!! xxx

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