Yup, it’s true. Today I turn 40. It’s supposed to be a milestone, I guess, but I’ve been thinking of myself as a “grown up” for so long now that this new old age fails to impress me.
I distinctly remember turning 30, though, and how the largeness of that number burdened me. I could not be 30. Inside, I still felt 23. And now that I am 40, I still feel 23.
Well, I don’t quite feel the same physically. 23-year-old me wore her favorite (verysmallsize) jeans home from the maternity ward with a day-old baby in tow. At 40, I need to eat a lot of salad and do a lot of Kenpo Karate to maintain a healthy body size.
But it’s not so bad. I like salad. And I like Kenpo Karate.
And I certainly don’t feel the same emotionally. 23-year-old me hemmed and hawed, weighed the consequences, and took a poll before she changed a baby’s diaper. At 40, I have learned so much about myself, marriage, parenthood, and human relationships that I make many important decisions with confidence. I have learned to trust myself and my instincts, especially as a mom, but also as a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. Instincts, especially when they’ve been prayerfully and sometimes painfully developed through real-life experience, are a gift from God. There’s just no way of knowing that at 23.
I have been blessed to do much of my grown-up “growing up” in a marriage to a strong, faith-filled man while surrounded by the blessings of our family. I am blessed to have family and friends who know me. They know me well because they have been right here by my side me, even while I was getting to know myself. I am known, and loved despite the knowing. That’s something I couldn’t have had at 23.
So now that I think of it, I guess I don’t feel very 23 after all.
I once heard the joke that the key to aging gracefully is to pick an age you like and stick with it, and 23 might still be tempting in its own wrinkle-free way.
But today? Today I pick 40.