I spent the day reflecting on my forty years of life while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. It was a snow day for our school district so the boys were home too. They enjoyed half of the day before I made them clean their rooms.
I have been dreading this day for many months. Maybe even an entire year.
It even sounds OLD.
I’m not sure why this has hit me so hard. I’m not really *that* kind of person. Age has never mattered to me before this BIG one. Plus, I don’t think I look that old, despite the appearance of that stubborn wrinkle between my eyes that refuses to go away whether I’m smiling or frowning, and the
gray discoloration in my hair.
As I spent the day cleaning out and organizing most of my cabinets, I began to reflect on my forty years of life. I received a text today from a friend asking for prayer for her dear friend who is fighting pancreatic cancer. I found out on Sunday that my 40-something neighbor is in an ICU bed fighting for her life. If that isn’t enough to snap you out of your funk, I don’t know what is. I decided that instead of dreading this rite of passage – this 40th birthday – I should count my blessings and thank my lucky stars that I am alive, well, healthy and loved.
I have led a charmed life. I have seen and done things that most people only dream about. I don’t say that in a prideful way. Rather, I mean simply, that I have been blessed beyond measure throughout my life.
I grew up in a loving home. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t want for much, either. I had a beautiful lavender-gingham bedroom with a big, canopy bed. I have fond memories of sledding on inner tubes on snowy days, twirling my baton on our front walk for HOURS, and Sunday dinners gathered around our family table. My twin brothers and I were taught that honesty, respect, and hard-work are more important than material possessions, and my mom always told me you never do wrong and get by with it – words that I find myself telling my own kids today. I enjoyed playing school or office on our back porch and every Christmas was magical and memorable. I thought those were the best years of my life.
I met the man of my dreams in high school, even though it took me a couple of years to figure that out. We dated all through college and I could hardly wait to marry him. I worked my way through college and attended graduate school. If I had written a thesis I would have received a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Counseling. That is probably the biggest regret of my life. Still, at this stage in life I have no desire to go back or finish. Our college years were busy and fun, and I remember McDaddy and I would often hop in the car on the weekends and take a day road trip to Virginia or Kentucky. I thought those were the best years of my life.
After we were married I entered the workforce. I enjoyed the craziness in jail. I enjoyed my job. And I appreciated doing a job that I really enjoyed doing. During this time, McDaddy and I travelled the world – having visited ten countries – romantic places like London, Paris, Switzerland and Rome – and we’ve been to 36 states. (Just last month in fact, he took me to New York City to celebrate my 40th birthday.)
Back then, McDaddy and I were foot-loose and fancy-free. If we wanted to go on a trip, we packed up, and we went. I thought those were the best years of my life.
After trading in a career for motherhood I realized that I had it all wrong. These children – these two human beings that I helped to create – arehealthy and beautiful and wonderful. Realizing that this is the most important job I would ever do, I prayed that I would get this thing right. There are days that I lose my temper. There are days that I feel like I have lost [what’s left of] my mind. There are days I feel like a complete failure and I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I am not a model mother. But I try to give it my best every day of every year. I have so much to be thankful for.
I am not a perfect wife. I am not always the best friend. I am certainly not the best Christian. I am impatient. I have strong beliefs and opinions, and often times my mouth beats my brain off the starting line. God has been so good to me, even though I fail Him often. His grace and His mercy is something I will never understand.
And that, my friends, is something you can’t put a price on.
I am loved by so many people. I have wonderful parents, a husband who adores me, children who are healthy, and friends I could call on any hour of the day.
Who cares that I am FORTY years old? These are the best years of my life after all, and I don’t want to waste another second dreading it.
So here’s to my F-O-R-T-I-E-S.
May they truly be the best years of my life.