I am loving my 40s. And I’m in love with watching my friends love their 40s too. I cheerfully welcome every woman to the club when they turn 40. It’s a fantastic decade to be in. There’s just something that happens when a woman turns 40. It’s like we’ve suddenly found our voices. Like we’ve grown up. Like we’ve climbed the highest mountain, settled on the peak with arms outstretched and shouted, Here I Am.
I’ve spent the last few years sort of digging into who I am. A few years ago, I was in a funk – and really for no reason. It’s not like my life was completely off the rails – just a funk I couldn’t climb out of. I had a friend say, “ah – you’re having a mid-life crisis.” Nope. No real crisis here. What I finally settled on were “growing pains.” Turns out you can get them in your 30s too.
If you’re a parent, you’re probably in the weeds for most of your 30s. I know I was. Babies, toddlers, early elementary school years. I miss those days, but they are busy years. You’ve got your head down, just doing the work. Slinging meals, tackling laundry piles and knocking out to-do lists. Particularly as a work-at-home parent, you manage all of the details of these little lives, perform a myriad of mundane tasks and watch your brain turn to mush because you don’t use it anymore. Just kidding. (not kidding.) As your kids gain more independence and don’t physically “need” you so much, you come up for air, take a look around and say, “now what do I do?” (And I don’t mean which floor do I mop next.)
But then there’s 40. I’ve found freedom in my 40s. It didn’t happen overnight. I had to make my world really, really small and get really, really quiet for a while to figure it out. But I discovered some things once I put in the work. For me, the 40s mean… diving into things that interest me. Saying no to things that don’t. Speaking truth in love. Finding beauty in the mundane. Authentic friendships. The 40s bring wisdom – knowing what I can control and letting go of things I can’t. These years can be slow and settled, instead of busy for the sake of achievement. The 40s bring care and compassion for physical, mental and spiritual self. It has brought me growth and change in ways that allow me to be me.
I recently met a woman who introduced herself as “Sarah’s mom.” I met another woman whose email address is johnsmom@… I’ve done the same thing. Our identity is often wrapped up in who we are to other people. On two separate occasions this fall, as I was practicing self-care like a boss BY GOING TO THE DENTIST (and getting a pedicure, ahem), I was asked if I had the day off. They just assumed that I should be working. Because what do I do if I don’t actually have a paying job? Or maybe it’s just assumed that everyone works because not being “busy” must be dreadful – or we must not be “achieving?” Or maybe it’s assumed that everyone works because it’s just so darn expensive to live here in CT? (We have to make some sacrifices for me to do it.) Regardless, our identity can be wrapped up in our work.
Don’t get me wrong. We can absolutely find purpose and joy and meaning in our work and in our homes. 100%. I don’t want to minimize the importance of that in any way. But no matter how we spend our days, I sometimes think we find our value in who we are to other people – as moms, as wives, in the work place and in serving others. We’re nurturers by nature, right? But if we take away all of the ways we support other people, what’s left? I mean, how many people stop to think about who they actually are? What excites us? What brings us joy? What are our passions? How are we gifted? Where are our weaknesses? I’ll just point out that as women, we’re pretty good about beating ourselves up over this one. But accepting our weaknesses can actually be quite liberating. Since we cannot be good at everything, knowing our weaknesses will tell us where to put our energy – what we can say “no” to so that we can say “yes” to things that are more geared toward our strengths and passions.
We are smart and compassionate; creative and resourceful. We are strong. We are leaders. We have voices – and the world needs us. The real us, unapologetically. Single or married. Kids or no kids. Paid gig or not. 40s or some other number. All of us. All of our strengths and talents on display as an offering to this wonky world.
So ask yourself, Who Am I? Yes, we are many things to many people and those are noble things to be. And they’re necessary. And important. And life giving. But…
Who Am I?
I’ll go first, but then it’s your turn to make your list. It was time to update the “about me” section of the blog, so you can read a little bit about me here. I’d love to hear what you’re passionate about. Feel free to leave that in the comments section. Maybe we even have something in common. ????