Saturday, December 10, 2005

Only four shopping days left...

until the Big Day! Yes, I am turning 40 on the 14th! Steve and the kids are out shopping even as I write. For the first time in many, many years, I made a list of the things I'd like for my birthday. Like most mothers, I am accustomed to receiving lists of desired gifts for my children's birthdays and for Christmas, but I have not made a list, actually written one down for decades. (It's strange that I can now use the word "decades" in reference to a time period within my own lifetime. A sign of the times, huh?) Last night I sat at my desk, pen in hand, paper before me and did a quick mental inventory of my study room, bedroom, closet, and secret stashes all around the house. I don't need more shoes, more skirts, more shirts, earrings, necklaces, or makeup. I've got plenty of pens, journals, books I haven't read, and enough bottles of cream, perfume, and nail polish to last until the next major birthday, I'm sure. I don't need a thing. Quickly, I sent up a prayer of thanks for this life that is beyond all I could ever have asked or imagined.

Forty. 40. Cuarenta.

Every few days, Steve takes my emotional temperature in relation to my birthday. The other day, he asked me what it feels like to no longer be able to say I'm "thirtysomething." I laughed. I've never referred to myself as thirtysomething. I've always freely told me age and will continue to do so. I will never be ashamed of the years I have lived. Each has brought its own set of joys, victories, and good memories. Each has also brought its own set of sorrows, pains, and losses. But each year has been a blessing, a gift, and each has transformed me and made me into the woman I am today. Last night, my daughter said that she's glad I'm not someone who is ashamed of my age. That meant a lot coming from my twelve year old daughter.

In the middle of our laughter about the "thirtysomething" reference, both Steve and I stopped middle snort and began to babble profusely about the show by that name that was on television in the late 80's or early 90's. Does anybody else remember that show about the two married couples and the two single people who were great friends in suburban Philly? One couple had two kids and was getting ready to be divorced. The other had two young children and a large house that was in constant need of repair. The two married men worked together at an ad agency that eventually went belly-up. The single guy was a college professor who slept with his students too often and wondered why he was never taken seriously by his colleagues. The single woman desperately wanted to meet the man of her dreams and wondered why her desperation was a turn off. Steve and I loved that show. We watched it with fascination. We were still in our 20's at the time with no children, or perhaps had only Kristiana but she was still a baby.

We couldn't imagine being so old, so mature, so engulfed in home ownership, advising friends with marital problems, and single friends who wanted to be married. We never thought we would ever be like them. I find it quite interesting that an entire decade of my life has passed and I don't recall thinking about that show once during our "thirtysomething" years. But I know exactly why I never thought about the show during the past ten years: We were living it out. Both of the homes we have owned during our 30's have demanded constant attention: cracks, leaks, painting, sanding, caulking, replacing, hiring workers to climb ladders and reach the things we don't dare to repair. We have cried with divorced friends, comforted their broken-hearted children, attended funerals at an increasing rate, and watched our children spring to new heights on a daily basis. Heck, we even have a dog! We really are adults now.

Almost three years ago, I made the promise to myself that when I reached my 40th birthday, I would be in the best shape of my life. At the time, I set a goal to weigh 15 pounds less than I did when I got married. I wanted six-pack abs, chiseled arms, and a sculpted back. I wanted a super modern dreadloc hairstyle, new makeup, and the best clothes money could buy. I wanted to make Steve proud to say that his wife was 40.

About three months ago, I realized that I wasn't going to weigh 15 pounds less than when I got married; ten pounds less would have to do. My arms are slender and strong. I've got nine-pack abs. And my back still supports my rather large, thickly dreadlocked head. I wear modest makeup, and I don't think I'll ever be able to justify buying a $275 pair of jeans. But I have still reached my goal of being in the best shape of my life.

I am happier with who I am now than ever before. I love my husband and children more than I ever have before. I have let go of old obsessions, fears, doubts, and worries in the past few months, all of which I thought I'd just have to live with forever. I am learning to release dying friendships, welcome new ones, and have arrived at a level of contentment with the relationships that I didn't think was possible. I am better able to listen to the problems and dilemmas of friends without taking on the responsbility to fix it all. I am more comfortable with and accepting of my body as it is than I have been for many years. I am strong of mind and spirit. I have a more fulfilling, joy-producing relationship with God than I have had before.

My greatest wish as I approach my 40th birthday is that all of these trends will continue.

In case you were wondering: A gift card from Caribou Coffee (a place kinda like Starbucks), a few colorful scarves, funky tights to wear with my skirts, and milk chocolate pecan turtles.
To my UTTER SHOCK: My husband and children just returned from "shopping" with Karen Powell - my best buddy in the world. She flew down from Connecticut to be with me for the weekend. After I screamed and fell on my knees, she said, "You only turn 40 once. I had to come!"

Please forgive me for typos and grammatical mistakes. I've gotta go hang out with Karen!!!!!


Goddess of Leonie said...

goddess gail,

hope you are having the most WONDERFUL time with your friend karen there. what a magnificent surprise.

happiest of birthdays dearheart,
you are so graceful in your years of wisdom getting.


GailNHB said...

Leonie, thanks for your kind wishes. The weekend with Karen was absolutely wonderful. We shopped, talked, ate, laughed, watched a movie, shopped some more, talked a whole lot more, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I was sorry to see her go yesterday, but I was thrilled that she had come. Good friends are worth their weight in diamonds! Peace, Gail