Monday, December 19, 2011

A birthday letter... to me.

(grab a coffee... this is a long one, with no pictures)

Well, I'm gonna officially say it... I'm turning 40 at the end of the week! Yeap the big 4-0!

I've been in denial that this day would come for about... ummm... 10 years or so! I always thought 40 was old.

But I can't deny it anymore, I'm turning 40!

The past couple of days have been rough for me. I've been teary, and grumpy and snappy (more than usual); but I just can't help myself. Is it the mourning process? Mourning my youth?

For the past year, I've watched my highschool friends turning 40 and wishing each other "happy birthdays" and I kept thinking "Thank goodness mine's not until end of December, so I don't have to deal with it".  Boy has the year flown by, and now it's here.

I've been trying to figure out why this birthday has hit me sooo hard (and not in a good way).  Everybody keeps saying "40 is the new 30".  ummm... no it isn't.  Thirty was a piece of cake for me!  Thirty meant I had arrived!  I was no longer "too young" or "too in-experienced".  But what does forty mean?

I've been thinking alot about each decade of my life and what they have meant to me (yeap, pretty intense stuff!)

My first 10 years,  were all about family.  The first 5 years, I have memories of my grandpa and grandma (mom's parents) and lunches and dinners at their house in Portugal.  Christmas and birthdays meant that my grandpa would go all out and make my day special (which all it really meant was having a birthday cake and maybe a new doll).  I remember playing with my two cousins and roaming our little town by ourselves.  There were no dangers (that I remember anyways).  I do remember being sick alot.   I mean really sick.  I had typhoid fever, followed by German measles when I was 6. Or was it the other way around? I'll have to ask my mom. From age 8-10 it was all about Canada, and this new country that was sooo cold, and I had no friends and couldn't understand what the heck people were saying to me. It took me a couple years to truly learn English.

From age 10-20, was all about school.  When I was about 16 or 17, my parents thought it would be a good idea if I quit school and got a job somewhere. After all they had no school past grade 8 and they were doing ok. I fought tooth and nail, and stayed in school.  I had after-school jobs from about the age of 15 on, just so  I could prove I could do both. At one point, during the summer after grade 11, I would wake up at 6 am to catch the "van to the farm" to pick grean beans all day, and get home at 6:30 p.m., take a shower, have dinner and then  3-4 nights week I worked at A&P grocery store from 7- 11 pm or 12 pm and then do it all over again the next day.  It was hard, but somehow I did it and made alot of money that summer.  I know I physically couldn't do it now. In my teen years, I think I was little sheltered.  While my friends were out at parties, going to dances and on dates, I was at home watching my siblings, or working.  I was expected to be home when the street lights came on; which was pretty early in the winter.  Going to my highschool graduation dinner and dance, was quite the ordeal. I had to get a family friend to explain to my mother that it was important that I go. I had to explain that "my date" was just a good friend and no he was not my boyfriend.  When the next day I received 2 dozen roses from my date, of course my mother freaked out. "What did you do to deserve flowers?" Well, ummm, I graduated highschool and asked him to be my date to my graduation party and this is his way of thanking me.  Simple really.

From 20-30 it was all about finding love and passion.  I found a program in college that I loved. I found a career that I loved. I found a man that I love. I met my two oldest children that I love. I was an adult, but of course I was still learning.  I was learning to be a good employee, to be a good girlfriend, a good wife, and a good mother.  I was learning that sometimes you win some and sometimes you loose some.  I was learning, and that was ok with me.

My 30's were about being home with my children. When my oldest Sydney was 3, and Haley was 1, I made the decision to stay home with them.  They were more important to me than any old job could possibly ever be.  I have now been home on and off for the past 10 years or so.  I did go back to work when I heard of an opportunity "that I just couldn't pass up". But eventually I came home. My heart and soul were at home.  During this time Anthony was born and it felt like our little family was complete. It is complete. As a way to keep my brain challenged, I started a virtual assistant business, and was doing quite well for awhile, but then it was interfering with  my family life.  My family comes first... always.

This now brings me to my forties?  What's expected of me now? My children are all in school full time (except for Anthony, but come September he will be). I am home alone most of the time, on most days.  Of course when the three of them are home, they still need me. And I'm ok with that.  But what about the rest? What am I supposed to do with myself? Do I start up my career again? Could I truly work in an office environment after not doing it for 10 years?  Could I just be a home maker, cleaning house, make meals, paying the bills?  What am I supposed to do for the next 20-40 years? I know others have hit this milestone before me, but is the difference that they have jobs/ careers that is propelling them forward and giving them hope that there is so much more for them to do?

My husband tells me that it's up to me to figure out what I need to do.  He's right, I know.  I think back to my 20's, and it was up to me to figure out what program I wanted to graduate from in College, what courses I wanted to take. It was up to me to figure out if that job opportunity was a good fit for me and my goals for my career.  But now, I feel like I am too old. Or am I? A friend who is older than I returned to school last year, and took courses in a field that were completely different than what she had been in for the first 20 years of her life.  That takes guts! Especially since she had a 5 year old daughter, who still needs her.

I had another "older" friend tell me, to make a list of all the things that I truly enjoy doing. The things that make me happy, my hobbies, and maybe that is a start of what my forties will look like.

Well, I'm not sure what my forties will bring, but I'm looking forward to the surprises... I think.

Bette

3 comments:

~Carla~ said...

I hope you have a wonderful birthday!! :) Making a list of all the things you love is a great idea & may make your path clear, so to speak! ;) Good luck!

Tracey said...

Happy Birthday!... enjoy your special day!! :^) I've spent the past 8 years being in my 40's and hey - you're only as old as you feel... remember, it's only a # !!

65 Roses for Marcia said...

Happy Birthday, and I will say I loved my 40's, other than being sick a lot. I'm so grateful to just be here I guess, I really celebrate EACH birthday! Just a different perspective, I guess. I'm happy to be "old"!

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