Friday, May 9, 2014

43

This year I celebrate Mother's Day and my birthday on the same day. It's a two-for-one deal for my family. I'm getting totally robbed, of course. Those jerks should have to treat me like the Queen of Everything on more than one day.

Just kidding. I'll make them celebrate me all weekend.

And possibly into next week.

So I'm turning 43 on Sunday.

I can't believe I typed that and put it into the atmosphere for people to consume and digest how horrifically ancient I am. Actually, this is quite an achievement. It has taken me three years to admit that I'm in my 40s. I really hated turning 40. So much so that my son still insists I'm 38. For a while I think he really believed it, and then I felt guilty and corrected him, but then he kept insisting to anyone who asked that I was indeed 38 years old because he's just that wonderful.

But I'm 43 this week. For real.

I thought I'd be a grown up by the time I was in my 40s. But I look at my face in the mirror and there's still something wide-eyed and childlike about my appearance. Or maybe that's just me seeing the me I know me to be? Maybe strangers see a 43-year-old suburban housewife.

I see Brigitte Bardot.

But whatever. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'm going to behold me as looking young. Notice I did not say, "for my age." If Madonna can be in her 50s, I can be in my 40s. And neither one of us looks "good for our age." We just look good, thank you.

Perhaps I'm okay with being in my 40s because I'm happier with myself at 43 than I was at 40? I'm married to an incredibly smart, handsome and hilarious man. He's also rich. Just kidding. I just said that to make him laugh. When our daughter Grace was born, I used to quote her a line from the Tina Turner biopic, What's Love Got To Do With It? Ike Turner says to his newborn son, "Why you cryin' baby? Don't you know your daddy's rich and your mama's good lookin'?" So that's how I describe us to my husband and he finds it amusing.

I also have a beautiful and kind son who is ten years old. TEN YEARS OLD! I have parented for a decade! He came into my world and changed my life for the better a whole ten years ago. I can't even believe it. And I have a beautiful and feisty four-year-old daughter. FOUR YEARS OLD! She's no longer a toddler or a baby. She's practically a big girl. She can put on her own pants and everything.

These are things to feel good about. I'm raising two tiny human beings to put on pants and flatter people. If that isn't success, I don't know what is.

And I'm in grad school and I'm writing a book. I think I felt pretty bad about not doing either of those things three years ago … so maybe that's why I'm finally okay with being in my forties? Perhaps I feel like I'm accomplishing stuff. Maybe I feel successful even though I don't have the final evidence quite yet. It's in process. The wheels are in motion. I've got two classes down for the Master's degree and I'm over 250 pages into my first book.

Yeah. Not too shabby. I'm going to stake a claim on it and go ahead and feel good about myself.

It's been a long road to 43. Let me tell you, 33 was hard as hell. I was not in a good place. I was a single mom and scared. I was trying to create an entirely brand-new career out of thin air. And I was full of doubts about my abilities. Maybe I'm a late bloomer? I spent my twenties in a marriage in a bubble. I spent my thirties living the life that you're supposed to live in your twenties. Trying to find myself and trying on all kinds of roles and men. Making lots of mistakes and trying to find my way back to normal.

And 40? What will I do with this decade? I feel like I'm going to get shit done. All the dreams and frustrations of the previous forty years will be answered. I'm doing the work. Burning the midnight oil  that I avoided all those other decades.

40 is better than 30. And 30 is better than 20. And 20 was better than 10. At this rate, I can't wait to be 50 and 60 and 70 and more. Life is good. Being alive is a gift. I'm not going to waste it anymore. I'm going to do things that matter. I'm going to make a difference and connect with people. I'm going to be brave and honest. I'm going to learn to like myself a little more. And I'm going to be nicer to old people and jerks. Maybe even be a little less self-critical and ignore that internal monologue that says "I can't" instead of "I can."

And I'm not going to be embarrassed about how much life I've lived. I've earned it. I'm on my way. And you haven't even seen the best of me yet.

This is how I do 43, bitches.

30 comments:

  1. I'll show you how I do 43.

    Nice post. You're the best. And I mean that in the sense that you're the best.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm especially touched because you wrote something that wasn't entirely filthy.

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  2. It is my mom's birthday today. She gets 'ripped off' on the combo platter of attention every few Mother's Days too! I totally agree that every decade has been better than the last. Although I'm cool with the last 3 years and exactly two months (not that I'm counting) of my forties taking their sweet time to pass by.

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    1. Well my husband is making 50 look pretty good, so maybe you have something to look forward to? Men do look better with age. I have no idea why … they just do. Lucky bastards.

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  3. Love it, mostly because it gives me hope that maybe 43 will be better for me than 33. Rock on, mama. Rock on.

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    Replies
    1. Anything I can do to shed a little light on the path.

      ;-)

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  4. Oh Mandy, I absolutely LOVED this.

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    1. Every time you say "Oh Mandy" you have to sing the entire Barry Manilow song to me. It's the law.

      And thank you.

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  5. You look amazing! You can still put 20-year-olds to shame so keep on rockin' it, girl! :o)

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  6. Happy birthday, Mandy! Here's to getting better every year. It really is true that the forties are fabulous.

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    1. Thank you. You're pretty fabulous yourself, Stacie!

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  7. You look mahvolous dahling!!!

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  8. I felt that way about 40 also...I hadn't done enough, or achieved enough, etc. By 43 my husband had taught me that it's enough just to be. Well, I find myself wanting to modify that statement immediately. But I think you know what I mean. Happy birthday. You are awesome.

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    1. Thank you. I do know what you mean. And it is good just to … be.

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  9. I was 43 for about a year, I think. It was great.

    Thanks for the Brigitte Bardot mention. Can't get over her with a twelve-foot stepladder.

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  10. I don't mean this to be creepy, but you pretty much make 43 looks stylish, cool and hot. If everyone looked as good as you at 43 we'd be a much better looking nation of people. Being 43 isn't bad when you look hotter than most 30 year olds. On the flip side, it must really suck to be a 30 year old that looks 43, and not the good looking "Mandy Fish" 43 but more the Boss Hogg 43. Have you ever known someone who was young but looked old? I've known a few. That must really suck. That's like getting the really short straw in life. Anyway, you look beautiful. Not just for 43, but just in general. Your husband is a lucky man. And your kids have a good looking mother. Rock on. Or write on. Or hell, do both.

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  11. Dude, I feel like you just gave a Braveheart speech and I love it! *high five* I love that life seems to get better with each decade. The crows' feet are a small price to pay for the wisdom. And girl, you're still totally hot and I'm sure will be well into your 70s. Happy Birthday.

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    Replies
    1. YOU CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOM!!!!

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  12. I remember when you were on MySpace - that was a while ago! You're different now, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Still the same in a lot of ways but better. I don't know what it is, maybe perspective. Before you laugh I think you always had a lot of perspective, but now you are just smiling above it all. You must be on to something good - Happy Belated Birthday Mandy.

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  13. I loved 40, it didn't bother me al all. Even 45, I was okay with. THIS year? I can't even say the number. I don't know what that's about. But you......43 looks fabulous on you! Happy belated birthday.

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  14. Dude, I feel like you just gave a Braveheart speech and I love it! *high five* I love that life seems to get better with each decade. The crows' feet are a small price to pay for the wisdom. And girl, you're still totally hot and I'm sure will be well into your 70s. Happy Birthday.

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