Monday, March 16, 2009

Did They Know?

It’s something they never tell you.

You’re told to play nice and to share. You’re forced to endure hours of lectures on everything from personal finance to being a good citizen. Dress this way, don’t eat that, drink more water. Exercise. Sleep. Be responsible.

And most of us do. We are good citizens. We vote. We pay our taxes. Raise our children. We feed the poor, pick up trash, write letters to the editor. All this we do. But they never told us.

They “forgot” to mention that women who turn forty suddenly go a little crazy.

We get tattoos. We pierce various parts of our body. We go back to school. She rides a motorcycle. She bought a convertible. That one has a much younger boy friend. We love our husbands, but wonder how we ever put up with so much whining, groaning and complaining.

We begin to wonder why we asked permission to leave our young children with their father (you know, that man who lives in your house) so we could have one afternoon ALONE.

At forty we started to see the world in a different light. Gone are the uncertainties of our twenties. We’ve laid the anxiety of our thirties aside and face forty with a new energy. A new attitude. A fresh beginning.

Yet, they never told us how marvelous forty is. They never told us that we’d make peace with our bodies, learning that hard work pays off with thinner waist lines. We would learn that exercise was for us, not for anyone else. That for once in our lives we could be, dare I say it, selfish. Somehow they forgot to mention that at forty we could be strong. Both physically and mentally.

Maybe they didn’t tell us because they didn’t know. Perhaps they didn’t view forty as a positive thing. Some still don’t. But I have to say, at forty-one, that I like me. My hair is turning gray and gravity has taken a dreadful toll upon my body, yet, I like me.

I’m stronger than I use to be.

I’m not afraid to speak my mind, consequence be damned.

I can agree to disagree and still like you.

I like who I’ve become and the sense of balance I now have. I like my children and the fact that I don’t have to arrange “play dates” in order to see my friends.

I adore my husband, even though he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say here. All he knows is that the woman who lives in his house wants him to eat more fiber. She sometimes wakes up dripping wet and irritable. He knows that this woman has a mind of her own, a bad attitude, and cries over silly things.

He’s clueless, but content. The other day he said, “I love you,” and I replied, “What’s not to love?” He blinked at me, smiled, and held me close. He doesn’t get it because they never told him either.

I tried to explain things to him. Tried to make him feel the excitement I feel about all the wonderful possibilities that lay ahead of us. He just smiled…and went to sleep.

Maybe they didn’t tell us because they, our older sisters, never fully grasped what forty means. Perhaps they thought we couldn’t handle the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But I wish they’d told me. I wish they’d said that babies are wonderful, and teenagers are amazing. I wish they’d reminded me that bitterness isn’t worth stewing on and relationships are more important. I wonder why they didn’t tell us how lovely we could be at forty.

Maybe…maybe they simply didn’t know.


Anonymous said...

I love you Ann. Beautifully said. You are awesome. I love being 42 and having a friend like tattoos and piercings....oh yeah.....



The Sweet Family said...

I love reading your blog. I don't have as much time as I used to so I can't read as often, however, I feel this post was for me...hehehe I will be turning 40 in the late summer and have been dreading it immensely. Im not afraid to say, I am scared. Your story helps me cope with what is yet to come. Tattoos...have em, piercings...had em, with a rag top. Therefore, what will be my desire in my 40's? I can't wait to see!

Thanks again and take care!

Patti said...

i remember my mom when she was in her 40's. never had near the fun i've had. maybe they never thought to tell us because they never knew what could be.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

If you think you're having fun now, wait until the next decade rolls around. :)


My Ice Cream Diary said...

I have printed this off and will read it everyday until I turn 40. (ok, not really, but I will read it often). I'm half way to this wonderful understanding of self and hope to be at your level when I turn 40. It sounds so lovely.

Kristen said...

I love this post! Thanks for being MY "big sister" and TELLING me. Love it. You are amazing.