What Turning 40 Means To Me


Tomorrow I turn 40. I was born at 1:03am, so I’ll be 40 as soon as I wake up.

We’re right in the middle of a move, so the birthday stuff has kind of been on the back burner. Don’t even get me started on how brutal it is to find a place when your husband is a luthier so you have really specific housing needs and trying to fill those needs while you’re basically immobile for the first half of the month because preeclampsia isn’t something that just disappears the second you cease being pregnant or being so depressed that you can’t really get up the energy to think about finding a house, let alone actually doing the move. Let me just say that this is among the hardest moves I’ve ever done.

But despite all of the insanity that has happened this month, tomorrow is the big day. One of those milestone birthdays that ends with a zero, meaning I’m starting a whole new decade of my life.

In the waning hours of my 39th year, I feel like I should have some Big, Important Thoughts about what it means to turn forty. After all, that’s one of those ages where I should know things. I should be old enough to have some sage advice to dispense.

I guess I do know what turning forty means to me.

Not very much.

Here’s the deal. The things in our lives that really change us are seldom going to happen at times when we expect them. Turning forty is unlikely to change me. I’m still waking up today to go teach piano lessons. I’m going to spend the afternoon with Rich and my kids. We’ll get some kind of take-out because we’re living between two houses, so that’s easier than cooking. All of the people who are good singers will probably sing purposefully out of tune. We’ll play a game of cards, go to bed, wake up and it won’t be my birthday anymore.

Life altering stuff happens much more unexpectedly. Sometimes it’s really big and immediate, like Elliott’s death. Sometimes it’s much more gradual, like the realization that I love cooking with Rich. We can’t look at our calendars and say, “This is the day that I’m going to fall in love!” or “This is the day that my dad will die!” or “This is the day I’m going to write a blog post that goes viral!”

Good or bad, most of the events that shape our lives tend to sneak up on us without our knowledge. They catch us unaware and make us different. Sometimes, even things that we have planned can catch us off guard. Either they don’t go the way they were supposed to, or they don’t have the outcome that we expected.

So yes, I’ll celebrate. I will be with people who I love and who love me. And maybe something spectacularly life-altering will happen.

But it won’t be because I’m forty. It will be because I’m alive. 


Photo by Jon Jordan

4 thoughts on “What Turning 40 Means To Me

  1. Great post, though slightly off with one thing. Early in the post you say, ‘I should be old enough to have some sage advice to dispense’ implying that you don’t. But, my friend, you do, you really freaking do. Because this is all sage advice, topped off by that excellent last line.
    Happy Birthday… may you have more energy today than you think you will and may the move go better than you expected.

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