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on turning 40

November 11, 2015

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Earlier this year, two weeks before Wren was born, I turned 40. Needless to say, this milestone was overshadowed by the fact that I was carrying a giant watermelon, which was soon going to be pushed out of my vagina. Forty felt pretty minor compared with what was coming.

Several months in, I can now reflect on the whole thing and the truth is, I don’t feel 40. Most days, I feel too young to even be a mom.

Fact: it’s categorically impossible to feel old when you’re playing peekaboo or singing the Hokey Pokey.

Tangent: Or the Hokey Cokey as they like to call it over here. When I first heard one of the mothers at the local baby sing-along class (yes, baby parties, that’s how I roll these days) sing Cokey, I wanted to lean over and say, “PO-key. It’s Pokey with a P.” But then I realised they were ALL saying Cokey and I was the only one singing Pokey. I just can’t bring myself to say Cokey because I’ve said Pokey my entire life, but if I say Pokey, then Wren will say Pokey and they’ll probably make fun of her at nursery — along with her casual use of sidewalk, toilet, stroller, dessert and back yard. To Cokey or to Pokey, that is the question. Both sound dirty when you look at them like that. Now I’ve gone and said Cokey and Pokey too much and it’s doing my head in. This was meant to be an in-depth analysis on turning 40 and we’re now talking about the Hokey Pokey. No wonder it’s taken me two days to write this post. I think it’s time to end this tangent.

Back to the issue at hand. Yes, most days I’m fine with being 40 but I also struggle with it. You see, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and I often feel like I should have accomplished more by now. Everywhere I look, people half my age seem to have achieved twice as much. Do you ever feel that way? And becoming a mother puts the brakes on everything (at least temporarily), which makes me feel anxious, like my ambitions (whatever they were, I never really knew) are sprinting ahead and I’m running out of time. Tick tock, tick tock.

Sigh. Frankly, I am disappointed that this feeling of “not being enough” followed me into my forties. I thought maybe it would magically stay at the door, with the rest of my thirties and my twenties before that, where it bloody belongs. I mean there’s gotta be some benefits to turning 40, right?

Note: my child is currently whining because she wants the yellow toy, not the blue toy. THE YELLOW TOY, MOM!!! As such, I can’t really focus at the moment and think of a clever segue into the next paragraph, so I’m just going to jump right in if that’s ok.

Luckily, projects like like these remind me of how far I’ve come and how much I have to look forward to. “As these women tell it, aging is not a subtraction, but an accumulation of experiences that make life richer. If that kind of experience shows on our faces, then so much the better. Here’s to each of us wearing our own experiences proudly.” How awesome is THAT? Be gone feelings of inadequacy. I hereby banish you! And lo and behold, my friend Karen is featured in the article. Can you believe she is 48? What? Go on Karen, you gorgeous diva!

And for more inspiration, check out Elizabeth’s thoughts on middle age, as an island of tranquility where no fucks are given. That’s where I’m heading people. Unapologetically.

*This post wasn’t meant to be a stream of consciousness. It was meant to inspire you and make you feel like 40 is bad-ass, which is how I felt after reading the above-mentioned posts. So if you are looking for that kind of inspiration, read those. They’ll leave you feeling strong and confident and bloody amazing… as opposed to getting the Hokey Pokey stuck in your head. You’re welcome for that.


During November, I’m taking part in NaBloPoMo – leaving (well, attempting to leave) a few words or photos here everyday, with a little help from my friends – Xanthe :: Karen :: Andrea :: Elizabeth

13 Comments leave one →
  1. swisssirja permalink
    November 11, 2015 12:19 pm

    This is just too many WOW posts and I’m sorry for popping in AGAIN and leaving yet another comment, but this post made me laugh (thank you for the cokey 🙂 and then nod vigorously. I loved the ‘when I grow up’ part. Some weeks ago we had this little talk over supper:
    My daughter (12): ‘We had the jobs’ day at school. And, OMG, I still don’t know what I want to become?!!!!’
    Me and my hubby (in chorus – it was totally not rehearsed!!!) : ‘me neither! I still don’t know what I want to become!?’

    And we all burst out laughing 🙂

  2. November 11, 2015 12:50 pm

    I love you!!! Laugh out loud stream of consciousness… Cocky vs Pokey – brilliant. I’m never gonna allow you to stop writing for so long again.

    40 rocks – thank goodness… coz we deserve it.


  3. November 11, 2015 12:51 pm

    Woman– you are enough the day YOU DECIDE. That’s it. That’s the big secret. YOU get to decide. Nobody comes and puts a pin on your chest. So, if you want to fucking enjoy your life RIGHT now and stop that annoying mosquito buzz in your head questioning your life as if it’s not enough– open the window and let that bug fly off already. YOU ARE ENOUGH. right now. Anything else is madness– let it go. BIGGEST love to you XOOX, elizabeth

  4. Kristen permalink
    November 11, 2015 1:20 pm

    I finally got good with what I’m doing with my life last year when I turned 50, when I realized the only one holding me accountable was ME and to what? This stupid idea of what an adult lady/mom/business owner is supposed to be. Once I let myself off the hook, I was able to figure out what I really wanted, (it surprised me), and it is enough. Also, I love that ‘experience life’ link, thank you!

  5. November 11, 2015 3:40 pm

    You are awesome. I loved this post! 40 is all in your head, and look how young your head is! I feel you on the whole Pokey/Cokey dilemma. Expat life is weird.

  6. November 11, 2015 6:50 pm

    It’s really quite comforting to hear your thoughts on this. At my age I have friends having children and I want to have children too some day. But right now, I feel too young to. It’s comforting to hear that even you feel too young to be a mom – and it’s comforting to hear that it’s a normal feeling. xo

  7. Karin permalink
    November 12, 2015 12:10 am

    I remember the Parent Ed classes, as they’re called over here on the left coast of the U.S. Those were lifesaving for me, because I met so many other new moms and realized I wasn’t alone. Made friends, the babe learned how to play with others, singing the songs, etc. Glad you’re involved in that, if that’s what it is, even if they do the hokey pokey all wrong 😉 I loved that whole bit on the pokey and the cokey, which by the way, cokey is not even recognized by my smartphone! What does that tell you?
    As for the 40 and not knowing what you want to be when you grow up, I’m still wondering over it and I’m 55! Sheesh. I’m taking Elizabeth’s advice though and trying to accept that what and who I am right now is enough. The best thing I ever did was what you’re doing right now with Wren. I hope you keep up the writing. You’re such an entertaining writer and excellent communicator. And of course, you’re renowned for your photo skills, as well! 🙂

  8. November 12, 2015 12:16 am

    You’re certainly not alone here, and I was only despairing the other day about going round in circles with the same question I seem to have been asking for the last two decades: what do I want to do – like really want to do? I’m trying to embrace the fun of the discovery now though! Oh, and I’m with Xanthe – don’t ever stop writing! xx

  9. Allison permalink
    November 13, 2015 1:18 am

    I am more fulfilled and content at 40 (turned two weeks ago!) than I have ever been! And yes, our collective experiences make us BEAUTIFUL! Especially as new Moms…xoxo

  10. November 13, 2015 1:37 am

    Youre very kind, sweet girl. 🙂

    Also, welcome to 40! By the way — get ready. My 40s were INSANE. My 30s were great, but so far (and I’m almost to the end!), my 40s have blown my 30s out of the water. Forties are where it’s at, sister.

    I can’t wait for my 50s. 😀

  11. November 13, 2015 6:26 pm

    Great post! I still don’t feel like a grown-up (despite having two children of my own) and I’m not sure I’ll ever know what I want to be when I grown up. Sometimes I beat myself up about this, other times I think it’s just who I am. P.S I had no idea that the Hokey Cokey was ever anything other than the Cokey…

    • jeanine permalink*
      November 16, 2015 4:23 pm

      Thanks love. Starting to think (and also accept) that it’s just who I am too 🙂


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