I'm feeling pretty good about turning forty, actually.
There are, in essence, three things I wanted to do with my life: be a mother, be a writer, and travel. At forty, I'm still working on all of these—like, please don't snip my thread yet, Atropos, I've still got work to do—but I feel like I've made good progress. I'm not idle. I don't have many regrets.
However, I do feel like turning forty could be a welcome change. A transition long in the making, where I get to spread myself more evenly among those three goals.
I became a mom at 29. Although it made me a far better, stronger, and happier person, it has also taken a lot out of me—my health, my energy, not to mention a decade and a year of fighting just to give my son a shot at a satisfying life of his own. At forty, I don't have any assurances that he'll ever get there... maybe this new situation we won for him will fall apart, maybe he'll fall apart... but, in my heart I feel like we've done the best we possibly could, and that, from this point forward, whatever battles he faces will be his battles—we're just his backup. He is on the way now to being whatever man he will be, and he'll win or fail on his own merit, because we set him up to have that chance. That makes the sacrifices worth it.
My daughter, now... she's a big question mark. Miracle baby, breech baby, late to the party, flipping everything upside down. So independent, and yet a little off. Is she autistic? Is she going to be okay? Are we going to have to fight the world for her too, or can I—please, god—just send her out there to make friends, learn to ride a bike, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and find her way without our having to hover, convene, strategize, consult, medicate, and pray? Will she need us a normal amount? Can I breathe now? Can I conserve a little of myself for something else?
Because, at forty, I don't want to still be nursing my children, which is essentially what I did throughout my thirties—I siphoned so much of me into them.
This is my fear: that I'll spend the rest of my life being a special needs mom without the energy to do all the other things she'd planned... but because I am an optimist at heart, a magical thinker, even, I'm choosing to believe that my forties hold something different—that they'll be freer years, leaner years—the crone has no need for milkfat. I want to be productive but also balanced—giving and yet self-satisfied. I think that has a nice ring to it, and I welcome it.
So, yeah. Forty looks pretty damned good from here.