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Forty Isnít Always Fabulous: Truth From a Mid-Forties Mom

There’s a brief moment each morning between the alarm going off at 5:30 AM and complete consciousness. I can’t quite remember what day it is or what’s on my agenda. Once I come to, I feel…tired, anxious, or, on a good day, ready to take on new challenges. I shuffle to the bathroom and catch a quick glance in the mirror. “Holy crap,” I think. “When did I get so old?”

As I approach my birthday that will “officially” put me in my mid-forties, I often wonder, “How did I get here?” It seems like only a few moments ago I was swinging single, a power house career woman and living life on my own terms. Of course, back in my twenties and thirties I had other insecurities like meeting “the one” and crazy ambitious career goals.

Now that I have achieved the dream that many women aspire to, a beautiful family, my own business, and solid friends and family, I feel…terrified.

I had never experienced a panic attack until I was in my forties - that horrible, out-of-control feeling with the realization that you can’t find your way out. Anxiety seems ever-present these days and I find myself feeling constantly on the edge.

I worry non-stop about my kids. Don’t get me wrong, they are healthy and happy but the “what ifs” in life keep me up at night.  As with most moms, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect them and it is a 24/7, all-consuming job.

I wonder if I am still relevant. As we age there is a fine line between being hip and being desperate. I still listen to “Top 40” radio stations, but also can’t help dancing to my favorites from the 80’s like Duran Duran. I strive to remain stylish, but not become a slave to every fashion trend.  Can I still wear shorts, mini-skirts, and stilettos or am I supposed to be wearing “mom jeans?” God forbid!

I feel like I am never quite accomplished enough in my career. I’m not sure where I thought I would be in my forties, but it definitely wasn’t here. Like most working moms, I am continuously trying to find the balance between my own professional growth and earning potential and being flexible and present for my kids. Somehow things always seem to be off-balance on one side or the other.

I mourn the loss of my youthful beauty. Call it vain if you will, but I like to look attractive…beautiful. As the years slip by, it is hard not to focus on what seem to be more and more imperfections. I recently visited my dermatologist deciding it was time for some Botox.  At the appointment I was told that I should consider injecting filler in my face which is losing collagen and doing laser treatments for sun damage. My attempt to feel more youthful had actually just backfired and amplified my biggest fears.

I worry about my relationship with my husband. As the years pass, it often feels more like we are parenting partners rather than husband and wife. Conversations almost always center on the kids’ sports or schoolwork and togetherness and intimacy have paid the price. I wonder what we will talk about once the kids are in college.  Will we have anything in common?

They say 40 is the new 20. Maybe so if you are J. Lo or Jennifer Anniston who has never looked better, but I’m sure having a private chef, personal trainer, and a full entourage for hair, makeup, and wardrobe doesn’t hurt. For the rest of us “normal” women, even the extra push-ups, sit-ups, and miles on the treadmill aren’t a match for gravity pulling everything south.

I often feel stuck. Not wanting to dwell on the past, but too paralyzed to jump into the future and all of the uncertainty it brings with it.

Even with all of this anxiety, I have some moments of peace, strength, and security. At this point in my life, I am who I am and will no longer try to change for other people. I am not for everyone…and that’s okay. I feel extraordinary pride for the beautiful children I have created; by far, the most amazing accomplishments of my life. I try to live in the moment more often and enjoy life’s littlest pleasures. And most of all, I understand that this is just another stage in life. Once it’s gone, I will likely remember more of the good than the bad.

I am a work in progress - an imperfect mom, wife, and human being. I am finding my way, one step at a time. So for now, I’ll have one more cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and put one foot in front of the other. My great grandmother lived to be 102, so if genetics are any indication, I still have a lot of living to do.

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