I had a really hard time turning 30. I know, 30? Really?
Looking back on it, I can see how silly it was to be upset about entering my third decade. But at the time, I was anovertired mom of a toddler and also big and pregnant with my second child. I went into labor two months early, the day before my birthday, and ended up on strict bed rest for the next six weeks. All in all, not a great time.
However, struggling with 30 meant that when 40 was looming, I was completely unfazed. I bought into all the 40-empowerment stuff that was out there: 40 is the new 30, 40 and fabulous, life starts at 40, and so on.
All of my contemporaries, who were also hitting this benchmark, were borderline hysterical and I was all like, “I got this.” No fears. No worries. Just rainbows and unicorns.
I mean, my kids were at awesome ages and finally seemed like actual people with distinct personalities. I started enjoying them for them, not because I gave birth to them so it seemed like the right thing to do.
My husband and I were at the point where we’d been together as long as we hadn’t been together. It was a big milestone for me. We had hit some pretty nasty speed bumps along the way, but it looked like a fairly smooth ride from then on. Forty was going to find me strong, healthy and happy.
So now that I’m coming up on two years into this 40 thing, I’d just like to ask, WTF?
First, Brian and I made some major miscalculations and when the accountant showed up for tax time, we learned that not only were we not getting back a big refund, as we always had before, but in fact, we owed the government. And not like, $50. No, it was lots and lots of dollars.
So, there went my besties-who-are-turning-40-together tropical vacation. Not really a banner way to begin the best years of my life. But really, who was I to complain? Not getting to go lie on the beach with my girlfriends seemed like a trivial and privileged problem. We came up with a wonderful family vacation alternative and I tried to stop whining. Remember, 40 and fabulous!
Just days after my birthday, I made my annual trip to the eye doctor, a man whom I have visited for several years. We went through the usual pleasantries and then he asked about my vision (which makes sense, since he’s the eye doctor).
I’ve had glasses since I was in the third grade, but my vision is 20/20. I get terrible headaches and need my glasses to keep them at bay. So, like I say every year, I told him, “pretty much the same,” to which he responded, “Well, that will change. You’re 40 now. Your vision will start to deteriorate from here.”
I was borderline indignant. I pride myself on my good vision (which is ridiculous because I have no control over it, but regardless…) and was insulted that he would suggest that I would soon need my glasses to actually see things.
So it was with great shock and horror when, as the months rolled by, I noticed a slight difference in my ability to see things clearly. Although, I think it may just be my kids’ fault. I mean, do they really need to share things by shoving them right in my face? I think we can all agree that it’s much more comfortable at arm’s length. I’ve become used to saying, “whoa, whoa there, back it up a little.”
This forties decade also ushered in physical limitations, like back and hip pain. What the hell is that?? I refuse to accept that I can’t touch my toes without first taking a deep breath and bending slowly at the knees. And let me tell you right now, do not try a cartwheel. It’s definitely not the same experience that it once was. As soon as my hands hit the ground, I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I was forced to briefly consider how I would make it through the next few months with two broken wrists.
And speaking of broken bones, my kid started growing at a rate that only teenage boys can sustain. Apparently, his bones can’t keep up and he began breaking them on the regular. By the time he cracked the third one in half a year, I was sure CPS would be coming for me. Actually, a friend who is a nurse told me there is no doubt she would have reported it. I guess I’m lucky that they all happened in public places. With witnesses.
And then, there’s peri-menopause. I won’t even get into that because it’s just too terrible. And it seems it may last for something like a decade. Can you spell wine? The time has finally come that my husband’s bizarre hobbies are going to come in handy. He’s been brewing crazy wines in the basement for years. There was parsley, almond and then carrot. Currently, apple wine is waiting to be bottled. Bring it on.
I can’t find the recipe he used because it’s from some out-of-print book he acquired in college. But this one looks pretty close and it even comes with a video! Go ahead and channel your inner Dionysus.
Laurie Nigro, a mother of two, is passionate about her family, her community, and natural living. Laurie resides in downtown Riverhead and is co-founder of the River and Roots Community Garden on West Main Street.
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