Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm staring down the barrel at forty. I've got a week left of being
thirty-something and I'm running down a list of things I want to do before then. Its a different list than the one I would have created in the summer of 2000, when 30 loomed heavily on my horizon - like a storm. And I thought I was so old. The tasks before me are ones of loving myself, taking care of Judy, letting go. They are things of no concern to anyone but me- things I've put off for one reason or another. Stuff. And they're getting done- wow- they are getting done-and will be complete, at 9:30am next Monday, when I tell my parents "thank you" for making my life possible four decades ago today.

I was pregnant July 19th, 2000. About six months along with my second child. I was ushering out the twenties with dread, though I'd planned a big celebration to help that along. The 30's were going to amount to much more, I said...more money, more education, more inches off the waist, more safety, more security, more success, more kids.

The money is relative, on paper its not so bad, but we have more bills-more to lose. We've still got one salary, by choice, but its less by a quarter of what it was a year ago. The economy has hit us hard. And I've never known financial worries like I know now. And it may not get better anytime soon. More education-I've never made it back to school, but I've learned volumes above what I ever got at a University, from the wisest of souls who've traveled through my days up 'til now. I still find myself longing for a title in front of my name- something that will prove that I've done something. That will come, in time. I think. As for my waist- there's more junk in the trunk instead of less (and I'm being kind when I say that), but I can haul ass five miles a day and feel incredible. And just today, I scaled Ashland, one hell of a hill in my neighborhood, with my 35 pound son in the jogger. So its all good. More safety- yes and no. I inhabit a house on a cul-de-sac, surrounded by upper middle class folks who drive nicer cars than me and who have no need for much of anything I can think of. It looks pretty. And we don't fear for our lives when we leave the front door- no drive-bys or crackheads or other realities we've faced. But a mother was struck and killed by a car, just down the street, a couple of weeks back, jogging with two of her three small children. It shouldn't have happened here, but it did. Safety can be a rouse. More success- not by the standards of our culture. Not even by my own standards- but I'm redefining that term and choosing to believe that I've made it. The rest will be a bonus. As far as more kids- I'm cruising toward 40 with four children in tow. If you had asked me, at 29, which of the "more" would not be negotiable, it would have been this. I chose every one of them. And at the end of the day, that is all that really ever mattered to me. I got the only thing that mattered- and that makes me a very very lucky girl.
There will be no party- I felt no need for one this time. Tom offered- I declined. Instead, I asked for the gift of intimacy that comes with dinner and a few close companions, a few times next week or next month. Today, it is about who I want beside me- for my birthday- for my life. They are the people whose presence makes me richer than I could ever have imagined when I was younger. When I was 20 or 30. They are the voices I deliberately save on my cell phone, telling me about their days, then throwing in an "I love you". Sometimes twice. Never for any special reason. Just because they do- love me.

I sat in my therapist's office last week- crying- and she wanted to know why. "Why the tears," she asked? "Because I'm happy," I said. Because I don't want to go back. Because I wouldn't do anything different. Because I finally like the girl who stares at me in the mirror. The one with all of the same imperfections that were there at thirty. The unfinished product. The one who's gained more wisdom in this one decade than I had in the three that came before. The one who's learned to put one foot in front of the other, breathe, and press on, even when that seems like the most impossible of tasks. The one who tells truths- which sometimes are not all that pretty. But she tells them anyway- with all of the shame and the self-doubt thrown to the side. And like a warrior, she loves herself.

Staring down the barrel at 40.... if for some reason I never make it past this place, where I am now, I will have lived a much fuller life than I ever could have dreamed. And that, my friends, is the icing on a most delicious birthday cake.


Six Pack said...

As the big 4-0 lingers only days away for me as well, reading your blog helps to put everything into perspective. Thanks for reminding really matters.

Lori said...

Well, Judy, you're in a much better place with this than I. I'm turning 40 tomorrow and for reasons I can't explain, when I think about it, my eyes well up. Like you, I'm in a great place with wonderful friends and family and more blessings than I can count, and yet...tears. I'm gonna have to get a grip...I'm happy for your positive outlook and will strive for the same...quickly! :)

Judy said...

Lori- get on that blog and write girly. You gotta say what you need to say- even if you cry through the whole damn thing. :) hugs, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! I turned 40 last September. You SHOULD have a party, baby. You deserve to have cake and prezzies!

jen said...

I am about to turn 50. You are just a baby. I still feel young and sexy. I am so glad you feel so good about yourself. Stay strong and keep happy. You look so beautifu in your picture. So good to see you. Not sure how I lost your blog but I have found it again and am so glad.


Carrie L. said... rock! Thanks for sharing a few of your 40 years with me! I raise a glass to 40 more years of happiness for you and yours. L'chaim!

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Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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