[Doctor wraps up lecture on how my anti-depressant is notorious for weight gain, which I nod and can appreciate, but know that it's not the pill--it was the brownies I had in food storage. A year's supply, LOL, consumed in one summer. I didn't have a year's supply of GRAIN in the food storage, but by golly, I had a year's supply of BROWNIES.]
Doc: And then of course, there's your age.
Me: [surprised by sudden change of topic] My age?
Doc: Well, you turn 40 this year. That means your metabolism is slowing down and it's just plain harder to lose the weight.
I pause for a moment to consider this. I mean, it's not like it's a well-kept secret or anything. Everyone knows that the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight--until you're 86 and you've eaten every delicious thing you can think of and food just doesn't hold the attraction it once did for you--so this was no news flash. What was a newsflash was that she was seriously thinking of my turning 40 as a negative. I stared at her for a moment while my thoughts raced around, and I had to face the fact that my response to this assumption was simply far too complicated to go into and--as friendly as she is--really exceeded what she was expected to listen to as my doctor.
I settled for something along the lines of "Um-hum" and "I'll mention it to my psych."
Because here is how I really feel about turning 40:
I. can't. wait. Bring it on!
Turning 30 was fabulous. I had a better understanding of my moods and the stupid things I do when I let myself get too low or too high. I understood that in the throws of a sudden shift from low to high brought on by stress or even a fever or a dramatic change in sunlight in the spring, I was capable of astonishingly stupid decisions that might even be criminal in nature (although never with malice aforethought, and I'm not capable of violence or neglecting my children). I was developing the coping skills to stop myself before I got to that point. I was learning a little bit about how to manage my money like an adult. I was getting work that earned real money. I had managed to stay married for four years to the same guy and I--I wasn't twenty-something anymore. I was only too happy to put that decade to bed.
I have even higher expectations of 40. Here at the close of my thirties, my highs don't go so high and my lows don't go so low and I have survived the battle of secondary infertility and cloth diapers and Southern California cost of living and come out on the other side ahead. With a few exceptions, I get more sleep, I am paying off my debt instead of accumulating more of it (this year was a setback, but we're nearly through the worst of it), we probably have all the kids we're going to have so the house will probably gradually look cleaner and neater over time instead of progressively more chaotic. We are determined to soon be in the position of having no debt other than the mortgage and to be more aggressive about saving for our retirement.
I expect the following things to happen in my forties:
1. Grow ever closer to my husband.
2. Save more.
3. Watch my sons start to cross that bridge from child to man. (start to. Not complete it.)
4. Have more time for spiritual pursuits.
5. Take some vacations that require a passport.
6. Grow better tomatoes.
7. Watch my husband establish and grow his photography business (even if he gets a "regular" job in the meantime)
8. Enjoy my children's teenage years because they will also pass too quickly.
9. Go further gray and start to get white hair patches.
10. Knit more.
If my twenties taught me hard lessons about what I am capable of screwing up by being too willing to take too many risks, my thirties have taught me hard lessons about what I am capable of missing by working too hard and always setting impossible goals.
Somewhere in the middle of this is a place where you let go of control to the others in your life and to your God, while maintaining responsibility for the things you can control. My mantra for my twenties was something like, "Life life to its fullest." and that sometimes led me astray. And my mantra for my thirties was something like, "Where there's a will, there's a way." without an understanding that it needs to be GOD's will, not mine (well, except to the extent that my will be to do God's will). I anticipate my 40's mantra to be the serenity prayer. Let's look at it:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change; the courage to change the things i can;and the wisdom to know the difference.
--Reinhold Niebuhr, 1934 [lower case i intended by author]
There is, apparently, a mother goose rhyme that expresses a similar sentiment. Like many synonyms, it contains a slightly different take on things, and I like it, too, so I'm including it here.
- For every ailment under the sun
- There is a remedy, or there is none;
- If there be one, try to find it;
- If there be none, never mind it.
And for my forties, which will be the last decade in which I have an opportunity to really MOTHER my children, I plan to keep this quote from this year's general conference talks in mind:
"We can lay down our lives for those we love not by physically dying for them but rather by living for them—giving of our time; always being present in their lives; serving them; being courteous, affectionate, and showing true love for those of our family and to all men—as the Savior taught."--Elder Claudio R. M. Costa, "Don't Leave for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today", October 2007 General Conference
So yes, I'm turning 40 in 2008, but you won't hear me saying it like that's a bad thing. In my 40's I'll have sons that can help with the raking of the leaves, write me wonderful works of Science Fiction, and tell me how great it is to be 8 or 12 or 16 (and how hard it is, of course). I'll have more time with my husband, not less. I'll have one more decade under my belt of understanding how to be a better me. I understand I will have to work harder to lose the weight and I'm at peace with that because the older I get, the better I get at keeping things in perspective, recognizing when it's the kind of day I shouldn't make any long-term decisions, and in general, spend a lot less time worrying about what others think of me.
Now don't get me wrong--I don't feel anywhere near where I want to be yet. Maybe I never will. But I know I bounce back faster than I used to and I'm a better "half" to the whole that is Chris and I. And a person can't feel anything but gratitude about that. With things internally improving so much with each ten years that passes--it's hard to get too upset about things slowing down on the physical plane. Oh, I reserve the right to curse my metabolism from time to time--but I've never had a particularly speedy metabolism anyway, so that won't be all that new. The news that I'll have to stay on my diet longer to achieve the same results doesn't really sound like news. Dieting sucks. Always has, always will. But the rest of the stuff about being in my 40's--that all sounds good. I'm at no new risk for anything that could kill me and I'm past 2am feedings and high-interest rate loans. I think I'm going to find my 40's wonderful. I really do.