This piece was featured here on Sammiches and Psych Meds on 2/8/18.
I just turned 39. Hold on, I need a minute. . . Deep breath. Compose yourself.
Okay, I’m back. I don’t remember turning 29 with any feelings of dread for my next birthday. Twenty-nine was a non-issue, just another candle to blow out and reason to drink too much.
At twenty-nine, the decade I had been dreaming about my whole life was right at my fingertips. The decade of the husband. The decade of the white picket fence. The decade of finally meeting the little people who would one day call me “Mommy.”
I busted into my 30’s a new last name and a fervor in my spirit, eagerly awaiting the decade ahead. Bring it on.
But instead, I was punched in the face by a fist of life’s wake-up calls.
Here are ten examples of the realities faced in the life of 30-somethings.
1.You realize that you have fancy new titles, but no clue how to do your job. You’ve lived your whole life as a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend and cousin. Those roles came naturally, with little navigation required, just part of the fabric of your being. Now BAM you’re a wife. Now BAM you’re an in-law. Now BAM you’re a mother. No matter how great your new family is, it is still more personalities to learn, birthdays to remember and holidays to split. And some days you miss life in your 20’s, living alone watching Sex in the City in your underwear with a bottle of wine and a cat. Meow.
2. You realize that there’s nothing “big” to look forward to for a while. Nothing in life quite rivals the anticipation for a wedding or the birth of a baby. You are not just excited for yourself, but everyone around you seems to genuinely share the same sentiments, even strangers. It’s the love, I suppose. It’s the hope that love really can last forever. I’m still not sure why people are so excited about the baby part. If they only knew. . .
3. You realize that you’re losing touch with old friends, and your new ones are weird. Sure, social media and texting makes staying up to date on your old friends’ lives so much easier, it also makes picking up the phone that much easier to put off. Texting a quick meme is the new way of saying, “I’m thinking of you.” You get more face to face time with your new friends—and they are terrific—but there is no better high than reminiscing with an old friend about how idiotic you were in your youth; and confessing about your recent occasional bouts of extreme stupidity, 30’s style.
4. You realize that your wardrobe does not reflect your age, and you’re not sure if you give a damn. My closet is still filled with American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch. I haven’t been on a job interview (or anything remotely professional) in over a decade, but if I did, I’d be totally screwed. I wore my senior prom dress to a wedding recently because it still fit and I just don’t give a crap about buying clothes. I managed to live through my 30’s still feeling more like a girl than a woman. But, there is nothing about turning forty that sounds girl, and that is depressing to me. Forty sounds all woman. And this woman will be rolling into her forties with a graphic tee, ripped jeans and high-top Converse. Maybe I’ll grow up when I’m fifty.
5. You realize that motherhood is NOT what you fucking thought it would be. It is not clean. It is not easy. It is not even really that fun. You look like hell. You feel like shit. You want to cry. You want a break. You lose your temper. You lose your hobbies. You never sleep. You eat too much. Your boobs hurt. Your head pounds. . . But your heart is full. It is easy to lose sight of it, but there are pockets. There are pockets of pure love that exist if you wipe away the muck.
6. You realize that youth is fleeting as the fingers of aging are starting to poke.I will never get any work done. I want to age naturally. Said every perky, perfect 20-something, including myself. While I haven’t yet taken the plunge into the world of “work,” I can’t say that I haven’t considered it. I color my greys and diligently apply my eye cream daily. However, I have a giant, deep wrinkle on only one side of my forehead that appeared after my second kid, which leads me to believe that I’ve spent much of the past six years with an eyebrow raised and a WTF expression on my face.
7. You realize that life as a stay-at-home-mom can lead to issues with self-identity and self-worth. What am I going to do when the kids are both in school? What have I missed? Will I need to go back to school? Do I remember how to use a computer? Do I even remember how to speak to adults? Can I just write Top Ten lists the rest of my life in my yoga pants? What if my kids need me? How do the working moms do it? If they can do it, so can I! Wait, what? Can I? I’m scared.
8. You realize that you’ll never have that all-consuming, loin-aching, right here, right now, horniness again. Ever. Ahhh, the beginning of a relationship. Everything is so new and exciting. He’s like a drug, an addiction. I was lucky. This phase with my husband lasted over ten years. While married sex has its amazing moments, let’s be real. . . it’s mainly half-asleep, leg stubble, bad breath, who just farted, just hurry up before the show comes back on, sorry you just swallowed breastmilk kind of passion.
9. You realize that you are sending condolence cards and attending wakes for your friends’ parents. The grandparents are almost all gone. Growing up, it was sad, but normal, to hear that a friend lost a grandparent. You didn’t expect—or even think it was possible—that our parents would ever get older. Wouldn’t they always be playing bridge around the kitchen table drinking Schlitz beer and smoking Merits? As the years pass, more and more friends have lost a parent. Two of my friends have lost both. My own husband has lost his mother. Death so close to home just makes you more aware of your own mortality. If I were God, I’d say Schlitz and Merits for all eternity. Cheers.
10. You realize that you are fortunate to have had 30+ years. You accept its challenges, be grateful and keep living. There was a mom named Bridget in my kids’ preschool who died of cancer. She was only 37. I didn’t know her; I had never spoken to her. Yet her death shook me to the core. A sweeping sadness permeated the school. Every mother and teacher carried a heaviness in their heart and it was hard not to get choked up when you saw Bridget’s children and husband. She died three years ago, yet the tears are falling as I type this. I’m going to stop bitching about turning 40 in honor of her.
I suppose I am pretty lucky. Not everyone gets 39 years here. Not everyone gets to laugh with old and new friends, wear age-inappropriate clothing, deal with the muck of motherhood, decide whether or not to get Botox, have lazy sex with their husband and watch their parents get old. I am one of the lucky ones.
So, c’mon 40. . .bring it on. Oh, and bring some Schlitz. 😉
If you liked this, perhaps you’d like FIVE REASONS I’M NAILING ADULTING
Thank you for reading.