Last Friday, I turned forty. An age I remember my parents turning. An age, I assumed, that would also mean predictable routines – dinner at 6, helping kids with homework, weekends of soccer and checkbook balancing and yard work – all of the things that scream Responsible, Stable, Forty-Something Adult.
Forty seems like a strange age. It’s an age we’ve been conditioned to accept as ‘old’, yet it comes so quickly. It sneaks up. It sneaks up so fast that you swear you were just twenty-seven, like, three days ago.
But I don’t really feel twenty-seven. At least, I don’t feel like the Unmitigated, Hot-Mess of a Disaster my twenty-seven year old self was. With my Judgy-Judgements of Parenting Techniques, Know-It-All Attitudes, Crushing Expectations, Paralyzing Anxiety, and Too-Often Inappropriate Work Outfits (thanks for nothing, Ally McBeal)….thank god blogging hadn’t been invented yet. The last thing the world needed was the inane blatherings of my twenty-something self immortalized forever on the internet.
Rather, I feel like a mythical version of my Twenty-Seven Year Old Self. The cool-girl portrayed in movies – all sexy and wise. The very best version of myself. And I do feel like the best version of myself these days. Perhaps that’s the gift forty brings. I feel like I’ve lived enough life to have something interesting to say, but I’ve also lived enough life to know when to shut up. And despite the scars from c-sections and breast cancer, the loose skin on my stomach and the wrinkles on my face….I’ve never felt so beautiful.
I’ve heard that beauty is wasted on the young. I totally disagree – it’s when we need that beauty most.
It’s amazing, as you age, how beauty becomes a fluid, living thing. That waking up to a little hand patting my cheek makes me feel like a goddess. “Wook at me Mommy,” Pax says. “So I can see yurs beauful face.” Or how Raines, my eight year old, will blush and walk into a wall (grinning like a fool) when I throw him a flirty wink. “Why do you wear all that makeup?” he’ll ask. “I just like your face.”
Forty feels gorgeous. The sex? AMAZING (we’ve come a long way since this post-baby sex article). And forty with kids-recently-out-of-diapers is especially delicious. I swear, leaving the house without that giant diaper bag is more freeing than cruising down the highway in a red convertible, top down, wind in your hair and road stretched out in front of you.
If you can’t tell by the pics, Mike (with the help of my sister, Scotti and our nanny, Gwen) threw me an EPIC surprise party. I have never – ever – been so surprised. Friends and family flew in, locals kept the secret for months while simultaneously riling me up, “I’m sure Mike will do something for your birthday, Shana. It’s your fortieth! You can at least expect him to make dinner reservations, right?”
Mike, if you haven’t guessed, is not typically what I’d call, ‘A Planner’.
And in hindsight, there are a million little things that should’ve tipped me off. Typically my sister doesn’t scream, ‘YOUR MAKEUP MUST BE PERFECT!!!” and have a mini-breakdown while we’re getting ready to go out. Mike doesn’t usually text constantly through my birthday dinner and get annoyed when waiters are slow. My friends don’t usually take such an interest in helping me pick out something to wear – I’m a forty year old fashion blogger, I GOT THIS. Even Gwen followed me upstairs suggesting in her sweet voice that I might want to “rethink the plain sweater.”
So when we walked into Hotel Monaco’s rooftop bar, I really shouldn’t have been so surprised. But I was. I couldn’t believe how many people came out to help me celebrate – I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Let’s do this.