As a kid and through most of my teen years, I always saw forty as decidedly middle aged. But today, as I celebrate my fortieth birthday, I barely feel like an adult at all. This is 40?
On the one hand, I’m experiencing almost every adult rite of passage imaginable right now.
I recently lost my father, something I didn’t think I’d have to deal with for at least another decade. (What? Half of my grandparents made it well into their nineties!) He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December, just a couple of weeks after fifty of his closest family and friends gathered to celebrate his eightieth birthday.
He went through several rounds of chemo and fortunately stayed in good spirits for most of the process. But in the last few weeks of his life, he declined very quickly, which honestly I’m thankful for. I’m also thankful that our last conversation was a simple exchange of “I love you” a few days before we lost him.
On top of the challenge of losing him at all, due to this little global pandemic you may have heard of, I was unable to be with my family or attend the funeral. Somehow that made it simultaneously easier and harder. I didn’t have to witness his decline in person, but I also couldn’t hug him or be there for my mom and sister.
In other news, my husband and I are in the process of purchasing our first home. We’ve been talking about buying a place for a while, but it was never quite the right time. Honestly, I think I’d be happy with apartment living forever – lower monthly expenses, no responsibility should something break or need replacing… But this house came up at just the right time, along with a realtor we love and lawyer paid for through my company. PLUS, I was able to get approved for financing despite the craziness in the world. In other words, all signs point to “yes.”
Oh, and did I mention I’m pregnant? Advanced Maternal Age. That’s how they refer to me now. I guess that’s better than the previously used “geriatric pregnancy,” but it still makes me feel ancient. At any rate, it’s true. In just a few weeks, there will be a baby girl rounding out the Fowler family.
To say that it came as a surprise is a huge understatement. The holidays were a little bumpy (see my dad’s December diagnosis above, among other things). It got bad enough that I took a pregnancy test in January, but it came back negative. When the symptoms didn’t go away, I chalked it up to stress. Well, surprise! It turns out those at home tests aren’t 100% accurate. When I tried another test in April, the little “pregnant” indicator was practically neon before I had even started the clock on it. I basically missed half the pregnancy. Oops.
All that to say, from the outside, I sure seem to be a grown-up. So, why don’t I feel that way?
I’m not naïve; I didn’t expect to wake up this morning and feel any different than I did last night. But I did expect to feel more, I don’t know, settled by now? I thought I’d be done having babies (I’m already tired!). I thought we’d be long settled in our forever home.
Is this how all forty year-olds feel? Is the notion of forty being “adult” just another societal ideal that has been set upon us like impossible body image standards and keeping up with the Joneses? Honestly, who knows?
What I do know is that I’m glad I don’t feel grown yet. I’m thankful to still feel young, to know that I still have so much to learn. I don’t want to think that I’ve somehow made it “over the hill” of life. I’m not done yet.