One day every year it happens, I wake up that morning and I’m another year older. Birthdays were fun back when I was a child or in my twenties. I didn’t even mind them in my thirties. Then came my fortieth, and I cried all day. I’m not proud of it, and I hate to admit it. I wish I would have been one of those people who embraced the age of forty with gusto; felt like forty was the new twenty. But I didn’t. I cried, bawled, really, for hours. It was truly pathetic.
I’m forty-four years old now. I’ve given birth to two children; two very large children, as a matter of fact. Birthing the gigantic babies has changed my body in several different ways, and whenever one of my darling children point out my less than flat stomach, I make sure to blame them for the expansion of my waistline. I’m pretty sure the blame lies on the children and not my strong love for all carbohydrates; at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
I noticed things going downhill once I entered the dreaded forties. Every so often, I wake up in the morning, and my hips hurt. What is up with that? Why the hips? I would understand my neck or back if I happened to sleep in a strange position, but the hips make no sense to me. My hips never hurt before. I’m going to blame the huge children for that, as well.
I used to be able to sleep for an entire eight hours without having to pee. That is very seldom the case now. Sometimes I can make it until about 4:30 am, but usually never the entire night. There’s not much worse than having to pee in the middle of the night when you are dead asleep and you can barely open your eyes wide enough to find the bathroom. I just want to stay in my comfy, warm bed!
Speaking of pee (and those of you who are adverse to a little bit of “TMI” should just stop reading right now), don’t even get me started sneezing, coughing or laughing too hard. All I can say about that is WTF?? Who is punishing me with this appalling occurrence and why? I just want to hold in all the pee when I cough, or jog, or do jumping jacks, or wrestle with my kids. No pee should be trickling out. That can’t be normal.
There are wrinkles (deep ones), on my forehead. I tried growing bangs once, to cover up the craters, but I looked awful, so now I just walk around with huge wrinkles all over my head. I have thought about Botox, but I’m too afraid I will be that very rare person who experiences a forehead the size of a basketball after the first injection. There’s just something about injecting poison into my skull that I can’t stomach.
I can only drink about two glasses of wine nowadays; anymore will throw me over to the dark side. I get a headache and a bad case of heartburn if I drink more than two glasses of any alcoholic beverage. I was never a very big drinker, but the fact that I get sick if I drink too much just makes me angry. If I want to be drunk, I should be able to be drunk, gosh darn it! (I try not to use foul language, as well, as to not offend the aforementioned children). They just suck the fun out of everything, don’t they?
Many times while watching a movie or a television show with my son, he will point out that I have some gray hairs. He offers to pluck them for me, and seems to enjoy pulling the wild and unbecoming hairs out of my head. I told him he’d better stop doing this because very soon I will have no hair left. At that point I will be bald, have wrinkles, a potbelly, I will limp (the sore hips), while walking, and then pee might trickle out. This is certainly something to look forward to. How much longer before I’m going to have to wear the Depends undergarment?
I can no longer eat anything I want. I want to have a milkshake every day. I do. I would love that, but I do not do it. In fact, I probably only have a milkshake once or twice per year. I would like to eat a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch every day, but I simply cannot do it. If I did, I would weigh seven hundred pounds. I remember being able to eat anything I wanted when I was in my twenties. I was never skinny or thin, but I was happily a size eight eating my grilled cheese at least four times per week. That was the life!
I have a child who wears a size eleven and a half men’s shoe, who is growing facial hair, and who knows more about technology than I have ever or will ever know. How is it possible I’ve gotten this old? How can this be the last year I have a son in elementary school? What am I supposed to do with myself when my boys are both in middle school and they no longer need room mothers, class party chair people, and volunteers to read with their classmates? I suppose I am going to have to work on flattening that potbelly and dying the gray hairs. I suppose a few Kegel exercises wouldn’t hurt, either.
And there’s heartburn now. This is a brand new and completely horrendous experience. If I eat a tiny morsel of food that was once a staple of my diet but now refuses to agree with my digestive system, I lie in bed at night experiencing a searing pain in my chest that has got to resemble swallowing a lit piece of charcoal. Why does my body hate me now? Why are these foods turning on me?
I really should sit down and think about all the things I’m grateful for that my forties have brought to me. I am smarter and stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m not as afraid to take risks or start something new. I certainly do not care as much about what others think of me, and I’m confident enough to go out on a limb every once in a while and say or do things that shake things up a bit. I love being a mom to two healthy, happy, and growing boys, and am grateful I’m healthy enough to be able to enjoy spending time and playing with them.
My forties have also introduced me to a new appreciation for the wonderful relationships I have with my girlfriends; fellow mothers who are experiencing many of the same ailments, feelings, and emotions I am. I have always treasured the relationships I’ve had with my friends, but I feel much more appreciative of them now that I’m older.
I suppose being forty-four isn’t the worst thing to happen. The good most definitely outweighs the bad. However, I am not going to promise that I won’t have a bit of an emotional breakdown when I turn fifty. I’m just warning everyone now. Prepare yourselves.