A couple of weeks ago I turned 40, hit the big 4-0, whatever you want to call it, and it would seem that this birthday affects people in different ways, so I thought I’d blog about its effects on people and what it means to me. As I have no shame I’m also going to share photos of me around each decade throughout the blog post too…
I have friends who have had utter meltdowns at the approach of their 40th birthday and who have actively had therapy to help them through it.
Others have thrown wild, extravagant parties to celebrate it. Cheers!
Some have tried to pretend it didn’t happen by not celebrating it.
A few have likened celebrating it to a funeral rather than a birthday party.
All of which got me thinking about what it means to me and why some people struggle with it so much.
First of all, why it’s hard for a lot of people.
I think that 40 is seen as a big milestone, so if you hit that point in the road and you’re not where you want to be / who you want to be with / you’ve not achieved what you had expected to achieve it can hit you in the gut.
I’ve heard people say all of the following:
“I wanted to be a millionaire by 40.”
“I’m 40 and can’t stand my husband, what a mess!”
“I’d expected to be a mum by the age of 40.”
“I can’t believe I’m 40 and I still haven’t met Mr Right.”
“This is not where I expected to be, and now the best of my life is behind me.”
So I can certainly understand why it would be a hard time for some people. If you’re not happy it’s just going to exacerbate that.
In the run up to my 40th many people asked me “how are you feeling about turning 40?” or similar such questions, and my answer was always “Bring it on!” delivered with a big grin.
The way I see it is this:
I get to live to this great age, and to keep on living, which is more than quite a few friends and acquaintances who sadly never got to reach 40. Who died before their time was up. So I celebrate that I am still around for my kids as they grow up, and that I am still around to celebrate, live and enjoy life.
I have never felt so happy, so loved, so comfortable in my own skin, so sure of myself as a person, as a friend, as a wife and as a mother.
I’ve had toxic friends in the past, I’ve second guessed what snide comments have meant, I’ve been made to feel sad, stupid, ugly and uncomfortable. Not any more, because now I don’t care. I’m happy in myself and who I am. Take me as I am or walk on by.
My teens were all about angst, “does he like me?” or “should I do XYZ to fit in?” or “why do I look this way?!” and more.
My 20s were all about shitty jobs, break-ups, juggling wanting to be “young” but having to be responsible too and finally wanting a baby that didn’t come. My 30s were about my kids, getting to have them, but equally the harder side of being a mum – pregnancy, morning sickness, night-time wake-ups, needing to be around to breastfeed a baby (my choice!), sacrificing career and holidays to spend time with them, budget for their needs and so on.
But now. Now I feel like my 40s are going to be more about me. Our girls are 9 and 3 and are in full-time school (in Mauritius where we now live they can start school at 3 and C loves it!). We have a great babysitter so Hubs and I can go out and enjoy life. We have enough money to be able to have fun and treat ourselves. I have the time to concentrate on my career and I am so excited.
I’ve got an online training course for French-speaking kids wanting to learn English coming out next month over at Fun and English. I’ve got some goodies coming up for you, my lovely Franglaise Mummy readers, (watch this space), and something else new planned for later this year. Exciting times 🙂
So for me turning 40 feels like the happiest and most exciting time of my life so far. Bring on the next decade I say!
What about you? What was turning 40 like for you? Did you love it, hate it or were indifferent about it? Maybe 40 is still ahead of you and you’re dreading it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the big 4-0!
I’m going to run a free webinar soon and it will be for you if any of the following applies to you:
- you struggle to make decisions
- you’re afraid of change
- you don’t know which risks to take and which to avoid
- you have fears around all of this (fear of making the wrong decision, fear of change, fear of other people’s opinions of the decisions you make, fear of failure etc).
A little bit of background for those who don’t know me…
10 years ago I had just moved into my forever home, which we’d seen go from architect’s plans to our family home, I was pregnant with my first child, and in a good, well-paid job. In the last decade we have sold the forever home, moved country twice (including to one where we know no one and have never visited, in Africa), I have given up two good, well-paid jobs to set up on my own and known failure and success.
I get emails from you, my lovely readers, every day asking me how I / we made those decisions, and asking for advice. So I thought I’d share how I’ve done it, the thought processes I go through and more. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in please drop me a line with your time zone and what time/day would suit you: FranglaiseMummy@gmail.com
Love this. I am with you on the privalege that I am still here as unfortunately not everyone makes it. I feel totally under pressure to celebrate though and I don’t think I really want to make much of a fuss. At the end of the day I just want to spend it with the people I love the most and that is my family. I think it can jog a bit of a midlife crisis. But mine had already started with the death of my Mother in law a year or so ago. It makes you evaluate your life a bit. But overall I’m happy. Glad you are enjoying Mauritius and getting to have some time for you xx
I say celebrate it how the hell you want, and be damned with everyone else! If that’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last 40 years, it’s that you’ll piss people off whatever you do, so you might as well do what you want 🙂
I’m with you Sophie. Getting old is like gravity – it happens and you can’t do anything about it. My view is that it is a complete waste of precious time and energy agonising over getting old. I firmly believe that reflection is time very well spent as long as it is with a view to making the most of living in the present, rather than regretting the past and worrying about the future. I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the big 4-0 with family and friends (cheers).
Beautifully put! And what a 40th your one was 🙂