I just celebrated another 40-ish birthday.
Okay, I’m 44. Still the low 40s. If we’re rounding, 40.
My five-year-old’s response when I told her how old I was? “Mommy, that’s not a real number.” Yes, sweetie, it is a real number and we really need to work on your counting.
Thanks to a Huffington Post sponsored Facebook post, I also just learned that I am at the end of my mid-life crisis. That’s right, by age 44, women are supposed to be done with their mid-life crisis. Just like puberty, women start and finish their mid-life crisis before men, on average between age 35-44.
Thank you, Facebook algorithm for the birthday wishes.
Have I been going through a mid-life crisis these past nine years?
Trying to age gracefully
I’m definitely exhibiting signs of (audible gasp) aging.
I’m no longer coloring my hair for fun. Blame the five-year-old. And her sisters. Whether it was the hormonal changes of a “geriatric pregnancy” or the stress of taking care of four kids, within months of delivering number four, I went from plucking the occasional gray hair to hair full of glitter.
That wedding gown carefully entombed for 15 years in a box in the back of my closet? Never going to fit. Not even close.
Don’t even get me started on the weird places on my body hair has started to sprout.
Okay, so I definitely look older. Truth be told, I feel older too. And looking older + feeling older = mid-life crisis, right?
My mid-life crisis, I mean epiphany
No, not quite.
When I look back on the last nine years, I’ve experienced less of a “mid-life crisis” and more of a “mid-life epiphany.”
I clearly remember in my teens and early twenties focusing on what I wasn’t. I’m not athletic. I’m not outgoing. I’m not attractive. I could go on, but you get the point. I had goals for overcoming these perceived flaws, but those goals were defined by other people, what others viewed as athletic, outgoing, attractive, etc.
What’s changed since then? My list today is all about what’s great about me. My goals today are all about applying my greatness. And success? That’s 100% defined by me.
I am athletic
My youthful athletic endeavors were not the stuff of legends. Last one picked in gym class. Parents who didn’t think girls should play sports. The only teams I played on were of the “no cuts” variety, and those petered out after middle school.
Today I’m an athlete. Heck, judging by the amount of Lululemon and Athletica in my mom wardrobe, I’m dressing the part.
After high school, no one’s keeping score (no pun intended). You want to play basketball? Join an adult rec league team and *poof* you’re a basketball player. Softball? Same.
For me, it was running. Since my mid-twenties, three to four times a week, I hit the pavement. Through the stress of working 60 to 80-hour weeks as a young lawyer, I ran. Through the years and years of sleepless nights up with babies and toddlers, I ran.
And I am still running.
I have a box full of participation medals to prove it. 5K(s), 10K(s), 15K(s). Heck, I even just ran a half marathon. I hadn’t gotten close to finishing the training plan. Any high school track coach (or sane person) would have told me to not even try. But I gave it a go, thinking the worst thing that could happen would be quitting and summoning an Uber.
But I finished it. Running. With a fairly decent time when you subtract out the multiple bathroom breaks. Another side effect of aging for a mom after four big-headed babies? “Bladder management” becomes a key part of your running strategy.
I am outgoing
I’m Team Introvert all the way. Speaking before a large crowd? I’d rather die a death by a 1,000 paper cuts. Parties where I know few, if any, people? Drains the very life blood out of me.
In a family of mostly extroverts, I always saw this as a flaw, something I was always working against, never able to fix. That is, until I became a lawyer.
As any introvert will tell you, we’re great listeners. More importantly, we always listen before we speak. Clients, who are terrified to be in circumstances where they need a lawyer, feel better knowing you have actually heard them.
Same goes for teenage girls, as I am learning. More listening and less talking on your part means more talking on their part.
As for not being outgoing? While I won’t be giving a TED talk or hitting the lecture circuit anytime soon, I am outgoing, after a fashion. As a blogger, I’ve interacted with hundreds of people over the last couple of years and thousands more have read my (hopefully) humorous take on parenting and the law.
Heck, I’ve just shared my teenage insecurities with you fine folks, preserved for all eternity on the Internet. A hundred years from now, my great, great granddaughter could be reading this. If that’s not outgoing, I don’t know what is.
I am attractive
Our teenage years are filled with acne, hair growing in weird places, cumbersome new hygiene routines, and constantly trying to match someone else’s idea of what is beautiful.
So are your 40s.
The acne? It’s back. The hair growth? It’s back, but the places are even weirder. Your hygiene routine? It now includes Retin-A and wrinkle cream. You are supposed to be striving to look like what you looked like in your teens and 20s, which is very funny considering most of us weren’t happy with how we looked back then.
Or you can forget all that and choose to focus on the greatness in you.
My weight and dress size? Definitely higher numbers than what they were in my teens and 20s. So what? Thanks to my athletic transformation, I’m in better shape now than I was 20 or even 25 years ago. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see the extra weight. I see strong muscular arms and legs, capable of powering me through a half marathon or a day chasing after four kids.
Wearing a swimsuit at the pool? Definitely looks different on 44-year-old me, but wouldn’t trade the look of sheer glee on my kids’ faces when they see me wearing it (because they know it means mom is going to play in the pool) for any inches off of my waist.
And as for trying to match someone else’s ideal of beauty? I match my husband’s ideal. God bless that man for always being quick with a sincere compliment. More importantly, I match my own. Is there anyone more beautiful than a strong, confidant woman?
How do you like me now, 16-year-old Siobhán?