My thoughts on turning 40...
I recently turned 40… And to be honest I was a bit scared. I did not want to celebrate as I thought it was nothing to celebrate... My initial idea was to just go away with my husband and kids. That did not work out unfortunately and as the big day came closer I realized I would like to have a party and celebrate together with all my friends. It did not matter that it was a round birthday, I just wanted to celebrate - celebrate life. So I planned a party at home in Germany with all my ‘old’ friends who are - although so far away and although I don’t see them regularly - so important to me and so close to my heart.
When I went on my girls trip to Sri Lanka with Akemi - a present from her which was just amazing - I started writing down my thoughts on turning 40. And I turned them into a speech for my friends. Today I want to share them with you and with my kids, my thoughts about aging and turning 40.
Oh, and by the way, the big day came and it was not so scary at all and actually nothing has changed ;-)
The perception of being 40 has changed
When I was my son's age, 9 years old and my parents turned 40 I thought they seemed so old to me. I know I seem very old to my kids now. My dad always told us stories of when he was young and that seemed so unreal to me. How could he have been a child and young? He seemed to remember every detail and that seemed even more strange to me. Now I understand - like with so many things - as I remember so many things of my childhood like yesterday! Do you know what I mean? Is it the same for you?
Why do we remember so many things of our past like they happened yesterday and still it feels so long ago?
The perception of time changes…
When I was in my mid 20s and my colleagues were in their 30s and started having kids they seemed like a life time away and although I did not think they were old, I was definitely not there yet and 40 seemed again so so far away.
I also know that 10 years make such a big difference. To my brother, who is nine years younger than me, I seem a lot older than it feels for me. Does that make sense? May be he doesn’t feel it the same way I thought my parents were old when I was young but I do know my age and life seems like a life time away to people who are 10 years younger.
I actually think it is not the age that makes us older or grow up, it is having kids. I think kids move us into a new life era. Having kids changes everything in a profound way and we can’t turn it back!
With age comes wisdom
When I was in my 20s and 30s I read these stories in magazines of women in their 40s being a lot happier than they have ever been. They said that they are now really living life, every wrinkle is part of their body and they feel pretty and just fulfilled. And to be honest I thought how can they be? They are old? Their best years are behind them not ahead of them? I smiled and often did not read their stories, I just could not relate. Well, now I can! I know exactly what they meant. So it probably has not changed over time, it is a normal thing, it is the normal way of life.
I still feel like I am 'only' 30. Just a lot wiser and a lot more confident. I don't think I am happier now but I am definitely more fulfilled, I am so much more self confident and just relaxed within myself. I realize and recognize many things more and I am a lot more grateful for the little things in life.
With age comes wisdom. For a long time I did not believe this or I should say I did not understand this. I wasn't wise enough… Now I understand. I understand many things much clearer now. It is the same with children, you only really understand things once you have children of your own.
I understand my parents and why they treated us the way they did. I understand how difficult it is to raise kids and how difficult it is to really understand each personality of their kids and how to handle them individually. I understand why they travelled alone, I understand why they did not allow us to watch so much TV or why my dad did not allow us girls to go out with these tight hot pants. I understand why my mom kept telling us that we can tell her anything, I can understand why she told us over and over again that we should not go with strangers. I also understand why she told us over and over again that she loves us. When I did my girls only trip the other month and told my kids over and over again how much I love them and that nothing will ever make that change, no matter where I am and they were like “yeah, mummy, I know... you don't need to tell me that all the time.”
I also understand now that there are more important things in life than the right pair of jeans or a new bike or to be part of the 'cool' gang at school.
Children teach us so many things
A lot of the wisdom came with age. I would say most of it was taught to be by my kids. So I am actually truly grateful for all the things my kids teach me every day without even knowing it. They taught me the meaning of true and unconditional love of course. They also taught me what life is truly about. And it is not about a pair of jeans from the right brand. It is nice, I love clothes and finding out about new trends but it is not as important as many people make it seem to be.
They also taught me to appreciate the small things again. And time. Time spend in peace with my kids. Time to admire an ant, butterfly or a little flower – things around me. I did not see these kind of things when I was in my twenties. Time flies and soon they won’t want to look at a butterfly with me anymore. So I take the time and admire this butterfly now. And feel content and happy about it.
Kids also make you see life in a different way. I feel like it is one of my essential roles as a mother to give them self confidence to master anything that life throws at them. I want my kids to love themselves and to be happy. To not judge others or themselves. They are so lucky that they are growing up in an environment where everyone comes from different countries and has a different background and just is different, not only their looks but how they speak, behave, what they celebrate and the list goes on. Because my kids grow up in this environment it might be easier for them in the future to not judge people because of their looks. (I hope :-) They are also very fortunate that we travel a lot with them and they see so many different countries at their young age. By growing up this way and so many things being totally normal to them, they also teach me that these things are normal. There are no differences between people. We need to treat everyone the same, with respect and with love.
Be nice and the world will be nice to you
My mom always told me she loves the saying: smile at the world and the world will smile at you. I always loved this and tried to live by it, however once I had kids and started teaching them to be friendly to the world - to give and you will receive - it became a whole new meaning. People say you will learn by teaching and I think this is what it's all about I am learning by teaching my kids and by living (or trying to) as an example for my kids.
And to come back to the original topic - turning 40 - I have to say nothing much has changed. I still feel like I was early thirties, my body is fit and I have just become a little more confident and wiser. The big change came with the kids and more change is coming with them growing up.
However, the number 40 in itself still sounds old and far away to me. I still can not really relate to it ;-)
What do you think? Are you 40 already? What has the number brought to you? What are your thoughts on age?