This week on 40 Lunches, Nina Badzin, writer/blogger/mother and 40 Lunches supporter shares her thoughts on turning 40. Her work has been seen on On Being, Motherwell, Today Show Parenting, and the HerStories Project, where she writes about books, friendship, and parenting, among other topics. You can check out her website here.
In the best case scenarios, last days are connected with new beginnings full of potential. Again, I’m talking about the predictable, best case scenario changes as I realize not all last days transition into happy times. I’m thinking about how my last day as a student was also my first one as a graduate. My last day as a single woman was also my first day as a married one. The last moment of my pregnancy (the first of four times) was my first moment as somebody’s mother.
These are my last days of 39. My birthday is not an end to mourn, but a beginning to celebrate. In fact, it’s different and more special than a typical beginning. Forty, for me, is like coming home.
I’ve always considered 40 as the true adult age. Perhaps it’s because my mom was 32 when I was born and my dad was 36. In my concrete memories, the ones I recall from experience rather than photo albums, my parents were in their 40s. They had (and still have) a close-knit group of friends who were like aunts and uncles to me. All of them, in my mind, are still in their 40s and driving carpool, sending kids to camp, and planning a bar mitzvah. I know that not everyone falls into their parents’ well-worn paths, but in some significant ways (not all) I have done just that. I’ve always had so much in common with my mom and her friends. I feel like I’m finally one of them, even though they are all in their 70s now.
Ladies! Free up a spot in your book club and save me a seat at your next theater outing. I have finally arrived at the proper age to join you.
In these last days of 39, I don’t worry that 40 sounds “old.” One of my grandmothers lived to 96. My husband’s grandmothers are in their 90s and still sharp. They would find 40 charmingly young if I asked them, which I would never do because what a privilege it is to be almost 40 and healthy with, God willing, still so much life left to live.
Of course I don’t assume I will live to 41 let alone to my mid-70s like my parents’ friends, or 90, or that if I do, I will do so with my faculties in top notch shape. My dad was 58 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1998. Do I have 18 years left before the same news catches up with me? Will I get a worse diagnosis sooner than that timeframe? Later? Thoughts like that plague me when I let them, which I try hard not to do.
In the last few years my dad told me that he would do anything for one last day to run and play tennis, two of his favorite activities before the Parkinson’s symptoms got bad enough to make standing an impossible task. I’m thinking about his wish more often in these last days of 39. These are healthy, exuberant days I’m enjoying and none of us gets an infinite number of them. Those are the types transitions we cannot anticipate and cannot dwell on too often or we spend more time worrying than living. So I am going to celebrate the heck out of this spectacularly predictable life change. Here’s to 40, the “new” stage I’ve been ready for most of my life.
For more about Nina, visit www.ninabadzin.com.