When I was a kid in junior high school my girlfriends and I would sit around and dream about what kind of guy we would marry (tall, handsome, can play the guitar and sing, great athlete, needs to have money, and looks like Joey from New Kids on the Block), how many children we would have (two to three, first a boy then some girls), and we couldn't even imagine what the year 2015 would look like when we turned 40! I figured I would be really old, out of touch with reality, certainly grey headed, and probably have a few teenagers.
Yet here I sit on the eve of my 40th birthday and I can't even believe that tomorrow is March 5, 2015 and I am saying goodbye to my 30's and entering the much more mature ranks of the 40's. Or so I imagined.... I must say that turning 40 is not quite as terrible as I pictured it would be. I am grateful for things I've learned these past 4 decades and I look forward to a new chapter. Life is getting better with age. So here are a few things I'd like to share with those who can't even imagine what 40 may look like and why you shouldn't be scared of this magical milestone.
1) My hair is much better now than when I was in high school. Thanks to a great stylist and colorist, this head won't see grey hair for many, many, many years to come. I've also embraced long hair, because I've been told it makes you look younger.
2) I'm stronger at 40 than I was at 20. I can run faster, swim longer, and bike for miles. One of the greatest things I ever did for myself was take the challenge at age 35 to compete in a triathlon. It pushed me harder than ever before and I am proud that I can outpace some that are 10-20 years younger than me. I actually have a faster 5k time now than my high school cross country days. Never would have known that if I didn't challenge myself.
3) I'm also stronger emotionally than I was at 20. Now granted most of us are a hot mess at age 20, looking for love, looking for direction, looking for adulthood, one foot in the nest and one foot out the door. But I have been through some tough losses, learned to deal with hard disappointment, and I have spent many lonely days. I have learned that I am strong and I can cope with things I never imagined.
4) I have grown spiritually. I have relied on my faith more in the last 10 years than I did in the previous 30. I have spent many days studying Scripture, learning the truth of God's Word, and growing in my faith with Christ. I sometimes will have a Scripture verse pop up in my conversation with someone else and I didn't even know I knew that verse. There is great comfort and power in hiding the truth of God's Word in one's heart and I didn't learn this until the last 10 years.
5) I am so much more comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I still think I would like a flatter belly and may like to treat myself to a nip & tuck. But overall, I realize that I am comparing my body image less to others and am finding more satisfaction in how I look. And it definitely helps that my husband really loves the body I have.
6) I am more confident. I don't worry as much about what others think of me. I know that I love God, I love my husband, I love my children, and I love others. I don't need to feel the need to please everyone anymore. I don't feel near as weighted down with self-imposed rules and "I should've done this...." So much freedom when I don't take life so seriously and know how to laugh at myself and my mistakes.
7) Sex really does get better the longer you are married. Don't believe the hype that once you hit a certain age or you are married for so many years you lose your sex drive. My husband and I have hit a new chapter in our lives of not having any more children and we are discovering how great it is to have sex just for fun. No more preventing pregnancies and no more trying to get pregnant. This is uncharted territory in our marriage and it's great!
8) The man you thought you wanted to marry at age 20 doesn't even compare to the one that you'll want at age 40. I wanted the fun, outgoing, spontaneous, party, let's bend the rules kind guy in my 20's. He was mysterious and fun and kept me on my toes and I loved the challenge. But imagine how exhausting that would be after 20 years of marriage. Thank the Lord that He didn't give me what I thought I wanted and I waited until I was a little older to get married. The man that I did marry was studious, a rule keeper, stable, loyal, sensible, practical but also had a great sense of humor. He is such a wonderful provider, has a great work ethic, and loves me and our children unconditionally. He is fun and full of energy but in a positive and constructive way. And trust me, I dated the types that are fun and energetic in a destructive kind of way.
9) Having a 2 year old at age 40 is not as bad as you think. Exhausting, yes, but I'm much more confident in my parenting abilities at 40 than I was at 30. I truly thought that I would have teenagers by age 40 but as it turned out, I didn't even start having children until my 30's. Having younger children keeps me young and no one ever guesses your real age when you've got a two year old on your hip.
10) The older I get the more I realize how much my parents loved me. I loved my children from the moment I knew they were growing in my tummy. But as they each grow, develop personalities, opinions, and gifts I learn to love them more and more for who they are and who they are becoming. As I reach this milestone of 40 years of life, I realize just how much time, effort, energy, love, and patience goes into being a parent and how much I appreciate my parents for all they did for me. I was tough on my parents and raising me was not an easy job. I thought I knew it all and they knew nothing but I realize that they did the best the knew how and did a pretty good job of it. And I long ago forgave them for any mistakes that were made along the way because parenting is a tough job and they did a great job in loving me even in the most difficult years of my life.
I'm embracing 40 and realizing I have a lot of be proud of. I've had a great life so far and I can't wait to see what else I get to accomplish in the next 40 years. Age is just a number. Don't live your age, live younger!