Turning 40

40 years ago the year was 1975. The headlines were sensational! The Vietnam War had ended, AC/DC released their album, “High Voltage”, Margaret Thatcher was elected PM in England while meanwhile in Australia Gough Whitlam was sacked. As 1975 approached its conclusion I was born in an outback hospital in the town of Mt. Isa.

Newborn in 1975
Here I am – one week old with my very young parents! (3 months later I went to my mother’s 21st!)

And so, this weekend, I turn 40. Milestone birthdays often make you pause and realize that time disappears quickly and you’re getting older. Turning 40 is particularly distressing because it has the attached what I think consider an unattractive label of “middle aged”.

How could I be middle aged? For starters I intend to live until at least 100, so I couldn’t possibly be middle aged yet.  Perhaps I should ignore the label and heed the advice of Mark Twain. “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

When I think about it, there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t mind turning 40. 40 may be older, but it’s also wiser. I would say I now possess a smattering of wisdom. It’s very nice being wise. It means that I understand so much more about life. And perhaps sometimes it means I make a few less dumb decisions compared to when I plunged into life with the inexperience of youth.

Sometimes the only way to gain life experience is to laboriously Trudge. Through. Each. Step. – I’ve waded through difficult situations and hardships and have overcome what appears to be insurmountable odds and during these times I’ve developed and added depth to my character.

Then other times it feels like I’ve gained wisdom by cheating. How can something as valuable as life experience be obtained by simply hanging on for the ride of this crazy roller coaster called life?  The literal ride of your life zooms you through the exhilarating descent of childhood, twists you around in the heady spin of romance, it takes you on turns you didn’t expect and sometimes it makes you scream with terror. But it also makes you laugh and cheer, it makes your heart pump and your eyes twinkle.

Roller Coaster Rides
Earlier this year. Taking my five year old on his first ‘big’ roller coaster ride!

The rich memories and experiences of my 40 accumulated years and is not something I would be willing to trade for less candles on my cake this year.

Even the tough experiences like crashing my first car. That day I learned a hard lesson that it’s not worth going slightly over the speed limit because if a car coming the direction at an uncontrolled intersection is also exceeding the speed limit it won’t be good for you or the car at the collision point. And then the humiliation of that incident will continue when your sister gets a poster size picture of your written off car and displays it during her speech at your 21st. Sigh.

Or there’s the memory of the delight and intoxication of falling love and then the reality after the wedding bells stopped ringing and we had a humdinger of a scrap on our honeymoon over the necessity of purchasing nail polish. That was a moment of realization that it was going to take a lot patience, humility and forgiveness to make our marriage work.

Newlyweds. On our way to our Tasmanian honeymoon destination.

Or there’s the tender moment when my firstborn son was placed in my arms and the overwhelming strength of a mother’s love that surged as I stared at his gorgeous face. Within seconds the reality of motherhood became apparent as my son released his bowels all over me. But already I was completely a mother and discovered that love does not diminish when be plastered in this particular human’s poo.

Newborn child moments old
Jonty’s first moments. (The photo conveniently cuts out the poo I’m caked in!)

I can clearly remember the card my father received on his 40th birthday.  There was a mountain goat skipping up a hillside and the card read, “You’re 40! But you’re not over the hill yet!” But when you opened the card, the mountain goat was balancing precariously on the top of a very triangular mountain and the message continued, “You might be at the tippy, tippy top, but you’re definitely not over the hill.”

So here I am. 40. Am I now standing at the tippy tippy top rather than still prancing up the hill?

God only knows. But do you know what? I can’t change it if I’m at the mid point of my life. But my goodness, it’s been something special prancing up this hill called life. There’s glee at reaching the summit when you realize that the excitement of life continues whichever side of the mountain you are on.

Call me middle aged if you must. It might take me awhile to embrace that label.  Right now, it doesn’t bother me because dressed in my twirly party frock, the view from the tippy top of Mt. 40 is spectacular! And this mountain top experience makes me spread my arms in Sound of Music style and declare – Life is wonderful!!!

Life is pretty damn good at 40!
Turning 40? Pfft, why should that make me stop smiling?

Linking up today with Essentially Jess – I Blog On Tuesday.

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  1. Loved this post Caitlin. Happy 40th Birthday. You are definitely not middle aged and I can’t believe you’re 40 because you don’t look it! Hope you’ve been able to celebrate this special occasion.

  2. Happy Birthday. I’m creeping onto 40 and I feel much the same actually. I feel like when you’re 21, 30 even you’re still so much in learning mode and whilst learning never stops, 40 is definitely a time when you most feel like you’ve got your shit together and have been here long enough to have plenty to be grateful for. Good on you I say.

  3. Turning 40 was a bit stressful for me. No partner, no kids and wondering where the hell the time had gone. It felt like there was so much I needed to do and so little time left!

  4. Happy Birthday! I’ve got to say, you make 40 look good.
    I’ve got a few years to go yet. I’m not going to lie, I’m thankful for that. Mostly because it means I’ll also have a nineteen year old, and I’m not ready for that!

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