Nearly two years in to this much anticipated decade, it has occurred to me that – not unlike every other anticipated milestone in my life – the forties haven’t really unfolded how I thought they would.
That being said, I’m not sure what I expected. Most likely I had vapid, Hallmark-esque sayings like ’40 is the new 20′ running through my head as I set my eyes on the decade ahead, certain I was going to turn into a less cleavaged version of Tami Taylor, spouting sincere and accessible wisdom every time I opened my mouth.
But without the glorious hair or potentially inappropriate shirts.
And I think that more or less did happen, in the first week after I turned 40. I had some profound thoughts, and brief, liberating moments of accepting my flawed self and then it was back to regularly scheduled programming: feeding kids and spinning plates full of unrealized good intentions.
Perhaps if I’d finished watching This is 40, the movie, I’d have been better informed about the realities of this decade. But alas, somewhere between talk of a prostate exam and a birthday party, I turned it off and returned it to the library. Because now that I’m of a certain age, I no longer bother finishing movies I don’t enjoy. And as a tangentially relevant aside, I suspect Leslie Mann is partly to blame, for I also failed to finish another one of her movies: ‘The Other Woman’.
Leslie, if it’s a slow day for you and you’ve Googled your name and are reading this, non-entity of a blog, I’m sorry. Your hair is almost as nice as Tami Taylor’s! I loved you in Rio!
Really, I’m just saying that. Because now that I think about it, I didn’t finish that movie either.
But, back to This is 40, the bit of the movie I did manage to see, where they’re preparing for and talking about all their medical tests. That was actually useful information about the decade ahead. For once you become ‘fabulous’, prepare to spend a bit more time at the doctor’s office than you did in, say, your 20s and 30s….combined. Apparently this is the age where everything starts to fall apart. Mention a headace? They’ll suggest an MRI or maybe a CT Scan. Feeling out of breath? Maybe you should get an echocardiogram or wear a Holter Monitor for a day.
You know, just in case….for someone of your age.
Now, whenever you darken the doors of a medical office, you go in knowing you will likely get at least one, if not two more appointments out of the deal. And so, being 40 is less a state of mind and more a part-time job. A visually impaired job, at that. Because once you cross the line into the best years of your life, you’re going to need glasses. Or, if you’re already wearing glasses, stronger glasses.
I’ll confess I felt a little smug as I watched the professor and those around me of similar age, lament their faltering eyes. Perhaps I would ride into the sunset of my life with the same eyeglass prescription I’d been using for the last twenty years.
That was so 2015 of me.
Because here I am, squinting, with perpetually tired, unseeing eyes. Too apprehensive about the state of my calendar to phone the optometrist and book an appointment.
Now that I think of it, This is 40 may have alluded to the life-determining phenomenon known as the Google calendar with its overlapping rectangles in various shades of [hostile] red.
It appears I emerged from the sleepless fog of my 30s only to be confronted with an unexpected reality: bigger kids can wipe their own butts and make themselves toast! But they do things that require the use of your time and, more often than not, your vehicle. And they don’t go to bed at 7pm. And you take on exponentially more work and volunteering because ‘what are you going to do with all your time now that the kids are all in school?’
‘I need a gap year,’ the professor sighed a couple of morning ago, over eggs, hastily consumed on the way to yet another meeting. ‘Remember this when you’re counseling your children about what to do post-secondary,’ I suggested. ‘I’d tell them, don’t waste your gap year now, save it for when you’re 40,’ he sighed again. ‘What do you want to do with a gap year,’ I inquired, assuming it had something to do with designing and building strange little things.
‘I just want the deadlines to stop. Just for a little bit.’
Truth. The Google calendar got so out of control this year we had to abandon our 14 year tradition of being a one-vehicle family and purchase a second vehicle. The sadder truth is that we bought another, slightly newer, Toyota Sienna so now we are the slightly glum owners of not one, but two old minivans. Perhaps when the Gort starts driving, we can acquire a model from the 2010s and have three decades sitting side by side in front of our house.
Ironically, of course.
For two hours every evening, our lives are like a scene from the Truman Show. One minivan pulls up to the curb while another minivan departs. Our phone conversations are 30 second clips of instructions: ‘I’m going to drop Percy off on the way to the Hen’s game. Can you pick him up?’
I distinctly recall standing on the sidelines at soccer games in previous years, wondering who these unparented children were – being dropped off by invisible parents who seemingly did not care about their kids’ performance in U8 soccer.
Turns out they were parents who had other kids also playing soccer or baseball, etcetera. At least, that was the conclusion I came to on Tuesday night, when I dropped off my six year old at the soccer field toute seule, yelling ‘I’ll be back in 45 minutes’ as I sped off to the next thing. While the professor was in Edmonton for yetanothermeeting.
Dinner has evolved into the comical: ordering pizza on the way to picking up a kid; making a slight detour on the way home for a cardboard box of pepperoni, or two boxes of Annie’s Mac & Cheese with some frozen peas thrown in as vegetables by proxy. Or a one-pan amalgamation of brown rice, chicken and vegetables. With a can of black beans thrown in if the professor is in charge of dinner.
This morning I started roasting a chicken at 6:30am, ‘to get a head start on the day’, only to discover a pack of unopened, forgotten red snapper that I’d purchased on Tuesday. Best before May 12.
Slightly bad fish for breakfast, anyone?