How are things?
Here, 40 is coming.
Like a monster.
It’s hitting everywhere – there were two celebrations in one night earlier this year, and there’s another one coming up next month, and a few being prepped for the summer. As I was typing this I got notified of another one.
I would by lying if I said it wasn’t freaking me out. I remember being a little girl in my neighborhood when this was hitting our group of parents – when my own mom turned 40, the neighborhood parents walking down their street towards our house with paper bags over their heads as an indication of her age. It’s one of those memories that I don’t know if I actually remember, or if the story was told so many times afterwards that I have made myself part of the memory. 40 doesn’t seem the same today as it did when we were little, for lots of reasons, but mostly, for me, it’s less glamorous. I remember my mother doing all the mom-things – taking care of us, taking care of church-stuff, taking care of her parents, taking care of her job. I remember her going to city council meetings (me sitting in the corner of those meetings with chips and a soda – two things that I coveted daily and was never allowed to have), and thinking I couldn’t wait to be an adult that took care of things.
Taking care of things is so much harder than it seemed from the corner of Berlin City Hall, though.
I wish I could watch my young life like a television show, sometimes – especially the parts with my parents. I think the most shocking part of this stage of life is that I don’t feel any differently. I think I keep waiting to wake up and feel like a real person – or rather, a real adult. Someone who could take care of things. I watch Anna watch me and wonder what kind of story is forming in her head about her life now – is her childhood happy? Does she feel taken care of? Does she know how much I love her?
Does she think I’m an adult that takes care of things?
I don’t know what this magical person looks like, but it doesn’t feel like I am it. A few weeks ago I was mindlessly scrolling through instagram and saw that a friend from high school had a nice rug on hardwood floors that looked clean and had some inkling that she must be a real adult. I realized almost instantly that having a nice rug on hardwood floors was pretty insane criteria to put up for ‘real adult’ – but I also put ‘new rug’ on my list of things to do (even though Butterball rips them all up) – do real adults have cats that don’t rip things up?
I know what we all know – that the current world of social media propels us into the unhappy land of comparison, and I do my best to remember that when I’m scrolling through and hitting ‘like’ on vacation photos and anniversaries and birthdays – but the real comparison that leaves me on the floor is the comparison I have from me to me. Younger self to older self. Yesterday to today. Last night to this morning. What I thought I’d be doing to what I’m actually doing. In truth, while I know that the last 10 years have had an impact on me I didn’t see coming, I know there’s still some heavy lifting to do. I still cannot imagine the plane going down and reaching for my oxygen mask first. Has anyone ever done that? Really. I want to know. If you were with your significant other, or your kids, or your mom – did you grab yours first? If you did, I want you to be my life coach. YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT.
I have been trying to figure out how to deal with my me-to-me shaming, and it seems I am a little stuck. For some reason it seems especially important that I take care of it all before I hit 40. Because I haven’t been able to, I’ve been trying to find something that feels good to focus on right now – like running. And Anna. And finding a way to sleep well. So, while I do all of that…
53 days and counting.