I jokingly insist I’m turning 30-10 this year. Next year, I’ll be 30-11 and so on. I just can’t wrap my mind around 40. It sounds so, well, old.
Number 9.It’s an important figure in our family.
Everyone — except my husband — was born in a year ending in the number nine — 1969, 1989 and 1999.
Nine is not without significance in relation to my husband, however. If you add the last two digits in the year of his birth, 1963, you get nine.And you thought journalists couldn’t do math.
But this column isn’t about math, random numbers, prime numbers, odd or even numbers or numerology either.It’s about marking milestones in 2009.
It all started in February when my son Christopher turned 10.
Double digits is decidedly a big deal for a kid, and it was marked with several celebrations spanning an eight-day period and the purchase of a customized Boston Celtics home jersey with his name and the number 10 on back.
Next month, my stepdaughter Kira turns 20, leaving her teen years behind. While 21 might be considered the larger landmark birthday, 20 is memorable. I remember thinking when I turned 20 how much older and more mature that sounded than 19.
Tomorrow I’ll reach a landmark of my own, but as it closes in, I don’t feel the eager “It’s my birthday” anticipation that I did a few decades back.I jokingly insist I’m turning 30-10 this year. Next year, I’ll be 30-11 and so on. I just can’t wrap my mind around 40. It sounds so, well, old.
When my husband turned 40, (several years ago; he’s much older than I, you see) he slid into that “I’m-officially-middle-aged-now” funk and dashed all my plans to throw him the mandatory “over the hill” party.
He’d been rounding up to 40 since he was 36, so when he finally turned 40, he seemed much older than that, and grumpier.
I suppose I could sink into a funk of my own now that 40 is staring me in the face. Or I could panic over those deepening crow’s feet staring back at me in the mirror and start reading up on Botox and plastic surgery options.
I could go on a frivolous shopping spree and blow my savings on clothing, jewelry or designer handbags (just kidding, dear) in the hope it will ease the blow of leaving 30 something behind.
But the thing is, I don’t feel bad or ready to slip into a depression.And I don’t feel 40, whatever that feels like.
My very kind friends and family members have assured me that I don’t look 40 either – whatever 40 looks like.Maybe 40’s the new 25 – OK, maybe 30.
But it really doesn’t matter when you get right down to it. It’s a number; that’s all. Just like the number nine that weaves its way through our family.
It’s hard to find a reason to be down when there are so many good things in my life, things that I appreciate now more than I did, or could have at 28 or 29.
That extra decade of living and experience really does make a difference when it comes to taking stock of what you have and what you cherish – like my family, for instance.
I have a wonderful husband, who happens to be my best friend, too; a terrific, bright son, who keeps me too busy to get into a middle-aged funk; and a lovely step-daughter, who is inspiring us all with her dedication to a career path that highlights her compassion and desire to help others.
We have a good home and home life, and jobs we find both rewarding and challenging. We’re all in good health and trying to keep it that way through diet and exercise.
Of course there are things I haven’t done, goals I had set in my younger days that I thought I would have accomplished by now. Writing a book is one of them. But there is plenty of time for that. A wise colleague of mine, who hit his own milestone in January, offered me these words of wisdom:
“You have to stand up in life before you can sit down and write.”
With 39 years behind me, there’s certainly more to write about and a different perspective to guide that story when the time is right to write it.
So I’ll pass on the middle-aged angst, if you’ll pass me a piece of birthday cake.
Alice Coyle is the managing editor of Gatehouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass. office. She can be reached at email@example.com.