I’ve been 40 for less than a month now, but I’ve already learned so much about what this milestone means to me. We all have ideas when we’re younger about what our lives will look like when we hit a certain age, and I’m no different.
My life looks nothing like I had imagined. Not the life I imagined at 10 (Well, 40 was so old back then; my parents weren’t even that old at that point.) Not the life I envisioned when I was 20. Not even the life I imagined for myself ten years ago when I turned 30.
In the past ten years, I started a completely new career. I discovered a way to use my creative talents and my analytical mind. I spend my days designing processes and writing about my life experiences. I’ve let go of the idea of the power career and have settled comfortably into one that is designed and controlled by me.
I embraced the co-parenting relationship I had been craving from the moment my daughter was born. I enjoyed the flexibility it brought to our lives and I reveled in feeling a completeness in our non-traditional family. I cried when that was shattered, and I still grieve the loss on a daily basis. I’ve accepted that we will never get that back, and that’s probably for the best. Sometimes we want things that aren’t right for us.
I found the love of my life. I never thought I would be in a relationship that allowed me to be so completely me. I didn’t believe in soul mates or love at first sight until that moment we danced across the floor and I could feel his hand on the small of my back as I looked up into his eyes and took in his scent. For the first time since my divorce a decade earlier, I could imagine happily ever after. After three years, he found the love of his life. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t me.
I started my 30’s living paycheck to paycheck and I ended them living the same. I have struggled to make money feel like a positive thing in my life and to detach my feelings of self-worth to the balance in my bank account. In the past month, I have watched money show up for me in ways it always has, but I noticed myself cursing it a little less.
I spent the first ten days of my 40’s on vacation with my friends and I realized that it doesn’t matter if we show up broke and broken hearted, we are still loved and we can still find joy. Quiet contemplation as the sun rises can be just as therapeutic as facing life long fears. Location and language are not barriers to building connections with others when your heart is open.
I’ve discovered that motherhood is a challenge in all its stages, but sometimes we need to surrender the fight and let our children lead us. Just as we cannot place expectations on our own lives, we cannot place them on our kids.
Perhaps it is those expectations that lead us to imagining our future selves in the first place.