Today is six days before my 40th birthday. To be honest this countdown has been bothering me for a while. It’s been hanging there like a stinky wet towel. I’ve tried avoiding it, then be wrapped by it, then throwing it aside because it reeks of great expectations.
There have been various attempts on how to approach this impending date. I’ve tried the introspective/deep approach. This is where I fool myself that I want to be a better person. It’s better to give than to receive and all that crap. Besides being a giver I was also going to work on my “flaws”. This birthday will be profound! It is big and important. Bigger and more important than what I did for my 30th. I had a baby. Single. With no clue whatsoever about being a parent. Definitely more profound than that. Now is the time to work on me. I can change, I’m now 40.
This approach worked for a month or so, but two weeks ago I decided I wanted to adopt the IDGAF approach instead. The introspective/profound take was too hard to keep up. I have to admit that I did want to get some pressies (That COS dress really looks good!). It’s only another birthday. A dinner at a restaurant and some material wants given to me would suffice. Simple as.
Today, though I woke up feeling well… panicked. I had this mini-anxiety attack while lying in bed. It’s only 6 days away. That’s too close. I can smell the stinky towel on my face as if someone threw it on me while I was sleeping. This is when I decided that I have to tackle and wring the stinkiness of fear out of the towel. But what makes it stinky?
I guess this whole kerfuffle about my 40th stems from the fact that I never expected to reach this age. The way I lived my life in my 20s was not conducive to a long life. I remember dating a 42 year old man when I was 27 years old, thinking then that I will never get as old as he is. My fantasies stopped when I’m in my 30s… I’ve done all the things I wanted to do in my head by the time I am in my 30s.
Having a baby changed that. It was hard to see this at the time, especially since I was sleep deprived, had no clue what I was doing and was experiencing the biggest come down of my life! From partying at all hours and being the usual selfish, self-absorbed 20-something; to all of a sudden dirty nappies, colicky cries, and pretty much just crying about 80% of the time – both of us – baby and me. There was no break from the decadent lifestyle and the I’m-only-living-until-I’m-30 to the stressed, shit-I-better-take-this-whole-life-thing-seriously mindset. All of a sudden my plans for dying young were thrown out the window. I was living life for my baby. Have been doing so for 10 years now (congrats me!).
It’s like standing at an AA meeting saying: Hi I’m Nikki, I’m 39 almost 40 and I’ve been LIVING for almost 10 years now.
The thing is, I am grateful that some things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. Not that I was completely clear how I wanted things to be. I am here now, though. And I have to figure out how I want things to be. This is what scares me. I do not want to explicitly say it – not even a slight whisper in my head because I feel that saying it, admitting it with all my heart will make it more visible. And the more visible it is, the more vulnerable I feel. But here goes… I will say it. To hell with vulnerability (Brene Brown said it in a more eloquent way I think):
I now want to live as long as I can live. I feel that I’m at the morning of my life. If my earlier life was hazy and crazy and dark at times, that was the dawn. I am now fully awake and ready to face the rest of it.
When I close my eyes and fantasise, I now know what I want to do by the time I’m:
50 (write a children’s book, start my own business)
60 (do my PhD, run a marathon)
70 (probably still trying to run a marathon)
80 (wear a bikini and look good in it while on a cruise – if we still can do this)
90 (flying to the moon with one of my daughters as the “pilot”)
100 (dancing under the stars somewhere in South America with my hubby because I feel that more half a century is enough time to teach a man to dance).
I know it’s cliche to say that having children gave me meaning in my life. So I’m not going to say that. Having my first baby made me want to live and be here for her. Because of my first baby I ended up being married to the best man, husband and father. I also get to experience what it is like to enjoy childbirth with my second baby. I just want to be with them more than anything else right now. I’d like to be with them while fulfilling those fantasies. So, 40th birthday hello.
P.S. T minus 9 years 364 days to write a children’s book and start my own business.