Thursday, March 29, 2012

Something Funny Happened on the Way to Forty

For those of you that don't know me, I'm one of those warped individuals who has always felt that age is just a number.  Truly, I mean, as long as I am still having birthdays I must still be clicking along, right?

I still feel that way, but wow, the reality of being forty hit me out of the blue today.  No it wasn't anything as spectacular as bending over to pick something up and throwing out my back, suddenly realizing that my body is changing.  It was one of those "holy cow, really?" kind of moments that just struck me while sitting in the park with my daughter.

You see, I've always been a super driven person; never happy unless I had about eight things going at once and lived in a state of constant change.  I've never been good at just sitting or doing only one thing.  Heck, I have a tendency to have three or four books going in the "currently reading" hopper.  I drive my family crazy because I can't watch television without reading or surfing the web at the same time.  For crying out loud, I've never lived in the same place for more than 18 months in my entire life (I swear I'm part gypsy).  I'm telling you, I am the poster child for multi-tasking!

So imagine my surprise today when I was sitting at the park watching my daughter play and......well, that's the point, that was it!  I was just sitting there watching her!  I was perfectly happy and content with that moment.  There was no nagging urge to check my phone or start a new project.  I was sitting there with no need to control her every move or constantly worry that she might hurt herself - I just let her play and do her own thing and that was okay.  That realization got me wondering if I should immediately head for the closest emergency room because clearly I had to be having a stroke!  This type of causal behavior is so against my type-A personality.

After recovering from my initial shock, it hit me that I've been behaving in this "in the moment" manner for a while now.  I've actually watched television recently - no really, WATCHED it!  I've been to the park with the girls on multiple occasions.  Heck, I even took a vacation with my older daughter this weekend and didn't work (so unlike me).  In fact, I recently went.....wait for it.....over two weeks without nail polish on my toes AND I wore sandals in public!  (which everyone in the South knows is a totally no-no for any respectable Southern woman)

A few hours later I was walking through the grocery store, post park so I'm sure I smelled of a lovely outdoor aroma, and caught myself doing it again.  There I was, walking down the hair care aisle singing along with, and rather loudly in fact, Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat".  I haven't behaved in that manner in public in so long!  And ever since surgery #12, let me assure you that I can no longer in fact "sing".....I now croak in time with the music.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm still a driven person, but some where along the way, in between 30 and 40, some ability to live in the now and enjoy the little things crept back in.  At some point I decided that loosing a half an inch and gaining 14 pounds since high school was okay (no gasping, I still workout, but suddenly I'm okay with my new body and no longer crave my pencil-thin frame from 20 years ago....curves are cool).

I now find myself talking to and playing with other people's children....and enjoying it!  I'm cool with driving a mommy-mobile and the fact that it's never spotless.  Come to think of it, I can't recall the last time my house was up to my typical OCD standards of cleanliness.  It's been in this state of "three small girls live here" for some time now.....and I'm okay!  No one lost a friends refused to come over and hang meteors hit the Earth due to some unexplained shift in the universe.

What is it about 40 that causes some to have a mid-life crisis and others to finally slow down and start to appreciate life for what it really is about?  And at what point does the super secret switch inside of us get flipped without us knowing?  Is there a main control room somewhere with the cast of Golden Girls sitting watch deciding when it's time for each of us to flip over?

I'm really not sure how or when it happened, but man, if being forty brings this much calm and clarity, I can wait for fifty!

[END NOTE: And for those of you wondering, yes I did in fact pick up the hair color while in the grocery store today.  I said I'm calmer and am enjoying life more.....I didn't say I was cool with the graying roots just yet.]

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