Thursday, September 8, 2011

40 is the new 30

At least, that's what my mother told me on the phone this morning when she called to wish me a happy birthday. Yes, it's my "berfday" today (as Rachael says), and it's a big one. 

I've been kind of dreading it this past year. 40 just sounds so stinkin' old! In the words of my sweet 7-year-old as I was snuggling her before bed last night, "That's like, half your life is over, Mom!"

But a good half life it's been. And it really is good to be in my shoes right now.

30 wasn't so pretty. I'll never forget my birthday that year. It was "just another day" at home with the kids and Brandon gone. He got home from the hospital typically late, and I remember feeling fried and frustrated so I left to take a drive by myself in the dark, Iowa countryside. I had all the windows down and the radio turned up just like when I was a teenager. Only I wasn't a carefree teenager anymore. John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane" came on, and for the first time ever I actually heard the words in the chorus: "Oh ya, life goes on. Long after the thrill of living is gone."

William was just a baby and it was a tough, tough year for me. I had post-partum depression, probably due to a myriad of factors: Will not liking to sleep on his own, me still trying to do way too much without taking care of myself physically (I was president of the youth organization at church, teaching piano lessons from my home, and doing a co-op preschool for Kate), Brandon working at the hospital over 100 hours a week as a surgical resident, and of course being broke as a joke living in an old 50's house that had endless major and expensive issues, not to mention the general upkeep that we couldn't afford to hire out even though Brandon was never home to do any of it. I have very vivid memories of mowing the lawn/shoveling the driveway with a baby on my back as well as cleaning out the gutters on the roof while pregnant. (Lest anyone think we've always lived this charmed life of ours and everything has come easily!)

I still didn't quite have my footing as a mother back then, either. Of course I've always loved my children, but I didn't always love motherhood. Especially during those years when I was so out of balance--often inevitable when you are in your 20's/30's and having babies/trying to get your career going. It's a tough transition from the self-indulgent college/swinging single/newlywed years. Which gets us back to the topic at hand: why 40 is so awesome.

1) Thanks to this Phat Club Challenge thingy we've been doing (along with Jenny Craig) I feel better physically than I have in a long, long time. I ALMOST crossed a threshold on the scale this morning that I was hoping to reach by my birthday. I'll get there this weekend for sure. This challenge was my personal birthday gift to myself, and it's been so worth it! I dare say I feel better/stronger than my 30-year-old self.

2) There are no more babies on the horizon. While this is sad in some ways since moving beyond the child-bearing years can make you feel old and nostalgic (and babies are so darn sweet--my dear sister-in-law Shauna just gave birth to a sweet baby girl on Tuesday, and as I started thinking about the excitement surrounding the birth process and then looked at the pictures they sent of that soft and squishy body, well, it got to me), no more babies on the horizon mostly leaves me feeling, quite frankly, FREE! I can finally get my body in shape and keep it that way. I not only have a little more time to think about myself, but also my already existing children. (Both hard to do when I have baby in the house. I go into survival mode.) I like feeling that life is only going to get easier (physically speaking--don't get me wrong), because I can deal with just about anything when I have a good night sleep and everyone can walk, talk, reason, and use the toilet. As my youngest continues to get older and eventually goes off to school (oh, bittersweet, mixed feelings!), I get excited thinking about all the things I'll be able to do that I couldn't do during that decade of babies/toddlers. (Like pimp my blog, and organize my recipes, and do more stuff for Power of Moms, and take up cycling, and go hot air ballooning, and become the next white Oprah! Too ambitious?)

3) We are finally getting settled and established. Unlike other professions (and despite the fact that we just moved after only 4 years of practice in California), physicians typically do not move around a lot. This last move was a hard one for us because we knew it would be our last. Establishing a medical practice isn't something you want to do over and over again, which is why we have no intention of ever doing it again. And since Brandon works for himself, we can say that definitively. (Barring some totally crazy, unforeseeable event in the future.) Once we buy a house (probably next spring/summer) it will feel SO GOOD to this mother and homemaker to FINALLY feel like I can get excited about creating a permanent home for my family as well as put my personal stamp on the home. (I have been avoiding serious home decorating like the plague. The reasons why require an entire blog post of their own.)

4) Our family can finally start doing more of the fun things we've been dreaming up for years. Like our trip to Arches this past spring break. There are just certain things that are not as fun or easy to do when you have babies and napping toddlers. We've got a goal of taking our kids to as many National Parks as possible, and now that we live in a state with FIVE of them and Rachael is almost FOUR (and Kate only has FIVE more years at home with us - YIKES!) we can get busy on our bucket list.

5) As they say, with age comes wisdom, and while I'm certainly not suggesting I'm wiser than anyone else, I do feel like I have come a long way personally when it comes to learning how to "live after the manner of happiness". I spent far too many years being hard on myself, not quite sure of myself, and failing to live up to my own potential. I like getting older in the sense that I'm much more confident with who I am (my strengths as well as weaknesses) and the direction I want to take my life. In the past, I didn't put "happiness" high enough on my list. I'm not talking about self-centered-pleasure-seeking-happiness, but rather the happiness that comes from being your best self and sharing your gifts and blessings with others.

Speaking of blessings, I've been reflecting on them quite a bit today and would like to do a post expressing my gratitude, but I've spent all the time I want to spend on my actual birthday sitting in front of a computer! But it's been so good to write this all out. I'm getting more excited about the 40's by the minute. (Blogging is good for that: perspective shift. Start one, you'll see what I mean.) Yes, I think the 40's are going to kick the 30's hiney!

Happy Berfday to me!


  1. Happy Berfday Allyson! Oh I just love your writings. So talented with words you are (sounds like Yoda, doesn't it?).

  2. What a wise woman you are! Happy to know you, even though I'd be even happier if I was seeing you this weekend.

    Hope you have a FABULOUS birthday. Happy, Happy, Birthday!!

  3. I'm so glad I came to your blog today! Happy Birthday Allyson! Your experiences and growth and happiness to be where you are resonated with me (boy, it's good to know I'm not alone in feeling the past decade has been much like you described), and I can see why you have much to be excited about as you enter your 40s. You're on a great path. I hope it's the happiest of years and decades for you!

  4. Happy Berfday girlfriend! I would love to take you to Kneaders soon to celebrate. Thanks for reminding me why 40 can be great. I'm lucky to have you as a friend and weebs partner. :)

  5. HB, Allyson. It only goes downhill from here. (Just kidding! Think of the the great AARP discounts you have to look forward to.)

  6. You're so amazing! Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such a wise, candid way!

  7. I love this. It gives me hope while I am in the sometimes isolating and stressful years of having babies and applying for dental school. I love reading your blog. Have a great birthday!


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