I remember when my parents turned 40. Both Aquarians it happened within days of each other. I would have been about 13. The house was flooded with cards and conversation about being ‘over the hill.’ I recall neither Mum or Dad were happy about reaching this milestone. ‘We’re getting old Suz,’ Dad would say.
Mum was convinced she looked good for her advanced age. ‘People still think I’m in my early 30s you know,’ she would say in her West Indian drawl. For some reason when my mum makes bold statements, the West Indian part of her accent over powers the Australian.
My Trinidadian Mum looking good at 40 .
As a teenager watching and critiquing my parent’s every move - in particular mum’s every move - I learnt two important things about turning 40. 40 is old. Even worse - you don’t want to look 40.
At 13 however, 40 seemed a life-time away. There were no arguments from me - 40 was old.
40 was a lifetime away at 13.
Fast forward 27 years, I didn’t have the same level of horror and trepidation as my parents. Perhaps because at the time I was exactly where I wanted to be - I'd become a mum to three boys. Of all the things I ever wanted to achieve in life, that was the one I wanted the most. My younger self just assumed it would happen. My 30 something self hadn't been quite so confident, especially after experiencing a rocky start, like so many do. I was grateful to have children, well when I wasn't rocking myself back and forth in the foetal position.
I had lots of ambitions on the road to 40. A bunch of these I fulfilled, such as travelling the world and studying abroad. Some remain unfulfilled and frankly look like staying that way. Jason Priestly and I never happened. I didn't become a roving reporter on Entertainment Tonight with Leeza Gibbons, as my 16 year old self had imagined. I never grew to like coffee, like mum said I would.
We weren't to be.
Seriously though, turning 40 didn’t really bother me.
I recall one of my girlfriends, in her mid 30s, lamenting that she had started attending 40th birthday parties. She had gasped with mock revulsion. They weren’t her friends turning 40, they were her husband’s, but it was enough to freak her out. She was not ready to turn 40 by association.
It made me wonder, why do we freak out?
Apart from some of the physical appearance downsides, most of which can be improved upon with modern medicine (if that’s your thing and for the record I’m all for whatever works) turning 40 and being in your 40s should be celebrated. I am serious. We should be out and proud and screaming from the rooftops ‘World, I am 40. Give me a high five and a low five!’
Our 40s - the destination of choice.
Yes, our 40s should be a destination of choice. Something to strive for. We are the smartest we have ever been, we are probably earning more money than we ever have, we've very likely made some big grown-up decisions about career, marriage, having children and where to live. We know what we like and, perhaps more importantly, what we don’t. Many of us are now blessed with friendships spanning decades and have some relationship war stories that could add intrigue to any camp fire chat.
Ladies and gents, wear the 4 (insert number) with pride. We made it. We know some stuff and we are ready to learn new stuff. There is still plenty of time to go for our dreams, whatever they may be. And when we do, we will have the benefit of experience and wisdom holding our hand along the way. None of this ‘over the hill’ business. Life in our 40s can be better than ever. High five, low five!
What do you think? How do or did you feel about turning 40?