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The Dreaded 40 - Articles Surfing
The life-altering event I had been dreading finally occurred. I went to bed one night able to say I was thirty something and woke up with the realization I was forty something. Somehow, I had thought I would be able to escape the inevitable, that somehow the rules of nature would not apply to me. I made the conscious decision that regardless of what any calendar might say, a single date would have no profound impact upon my mental state. Scores of people had reassured me that nothing truly earth shattering would happen the day I reached the age of forty. They could not have been more wrong. Actually, the ground trembled and the skies opened up.
By the way, these scores of people were all forty and reassured me that forty is merely the beginning of life. Age is a state of mind. A time for introspection and re-evaluation of life. A time to re-prioritize what is truly important. All I can say to that is, bull crap, when I rose this morning, my bones ached and creaked. I took the handful of multi-source vitamins that are a special formula for women of middle age. I mixed my Mega Green so things will continue to flow properly.
Re-prioritize? Now when am I supposed to do that? After I pick up a child from drama club, drop one off at baton practice, swing through the pizza joint for supper, rush across town to pick up another child, drop them off at the soccer field, taxi back to baton, back to soccer, then off to boy scouts? On the other hand, is it when I get home and have to placate the husband who now feels abandoned, run the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, and make lunches for tomorrow, feed the dogs, pick up the bathroom from the toothpaste fight and walk the dogs? Too tired to re-evaluate anything now, perhaps it will be next Tuesday after the PTA meeting, while I bake cookies for the bake sale at school the following day. Then it might be quiet enough to re-evaluate.
I am tired before I even make it to the bathroom mirror, just thinking about thinking about re-evaluating life. The youthful glow that used to be there stares back as wrinkle lines and creases. I need my bifocals to put the contacts in to see what I used to call the sparkling eyes full of life. What in my twenties was a size two body now sags and bulges from three children and twenty more years of life. And there, to my horror, is yet another gray hair poking through the brunette strands. I mentally make a note to the long list of to do's for the day to call the salon.
When the kids returned home, throwing their bags on the table, papers inevitably splay everywhere. Going through them there was an essay from my middle child's English class. Something caught my eye, so I sat down with a cup of coffee to read, "The greatest teacher in my life is my mom." Setting my coffee aside, knowing this will be a revelation, I assure myself that the wonderful child of mine will say how I have taught her proper manners and to pick up her dirty laundry.
To my astonishment, she wrote of a person I did not know myself, of a woman who had taught her that home is a place in the heart, and no matter the scarifies any one makes if one has the love of family, they can overcome anything and be happy in spite of the sacrifice. She wrote of a woman who gave of herself more than anyone else she ever known, who taught her what love, compassion, understanding and hope were.
I turned the paper over a few times wondering if I was reading another child's essay rather than my own child's. I realized that the person I saw in the mirror was vastly different from the one my children saw. In that one moment, every priority and every petty worry over my wrinkle lines and gray hairs shifted.
I looked out the window realizing I would not wish to be any other age than I was at this very moment. I would take every gray hair, every wrinkle line formed from laughter, and every creaky bone given from chasing them, over being twenty again. Wiping a tear from my eye, I went outside and piled everyone, including the two dogs, into the middle-aged soccer mom's minivan and headed off to the soccer fields.
The ground did tremble; the skies did open up, just in an unexpected way. The old adage that, "when everything else physical and mental seem to diminish, the appreciation of beauty is on the increase," took on a whole new meaning. I had thought that beauty was to be found in the mirror. Now I realize it looks up at me every night when I tuck the beauties of my life into bed. Being forty is not so bad today. However, do not ask me about fifty.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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