Since I’ve been asked more than once about the spelling of “fourty” in my blog title, I thought I would take this opportunity to clarify my attempt at being witty and explain that I do, in fact, know how to spell the word “forty”.
I’m sure many of you have already put together the parallel between my age and the fact that I’m raising four kids. I have at least one friend who said to me, “I see what you did there,” so I know some of you made the connection. And while I did initially choose the name for this blog to be a play on words that combined my recent birthday and the fact that I have – and adore – four rock-star children, it became increasingly evident the number four has more significance in my life than I realized.
Four example (you see what I did there?), four is the number on all of my second oldest child’s jerseys. If she doesn’t get her lucky number on her back, the season is certain to be cursed.
Four is the number of colleges I attended before finally earning my undergraduate degree. This wasn’t because I just REALLY loved transferring schools and checking out new campuses and degree programs. It was due in part to that whole doing-life-out-of-order thing and the requisite moves that came with my husband’s job.
On that note, four is the number of times our address changed during the first four years of our marriage. I’m pretty sure I must have some gypsy blood in me, or I would’ve thrown in the towel, and my finger cymbals, during those early years.
Four is the number of chapters I’ve completed in a novel I began a year ago. Although they all belong to the same story that is “loosely” based on my own life events (I’m telling you, folks, you can’t make this stuff up), they are not in any sort of comprehensible order and, if we’re being honest, it may take another four years for me to tie it all together.
And lest I forget, four is the number of times every day I ask myself (mainly because my family pokes fun when I say it out loud), “Where are my keys?”
Four is also the number of decades it took me to figure out who I am and what I want out of life. This is not because I’m a slow learner, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. It’s really more about where I, and many others I know, am in my journey.
Let me explain. Most of us don’t even remember half of our first decade of life, and now that I’m a parent who’s still learning as I go, I’m thankful for that gift. Childhood is about being unaware, young, and carefree, or so I’ve been told. It’s when your biggest decisions are your favorite color (then, yellow), number (I never had one), or which tacky dress-up clothes to put on your younger sibling. Looking back at old photos, we didn’t have to play dress-up to look tacky.
The teen years, well, they’re just rough. If you’re lucky, your worst problems are trying to cover up that giant zit on your forehead on the day of school pictures and not running into your crush in the hallway with sweaty pit stains. If you’re not so lucky, you learn that people who are supposed to be your friends are unkind, some will betray you, and sometimes, boys lie.
For most of us (again, so I’ve been told), our 20s involve the firm belief that we already know all there is to know. We are ready to conquer the world. While many of us proclaim to be “finding ourselves” during this second decade, our efforts are clouded by a youth-induced state of arrogance that leads us to believe that we’re invincible.
Our 30s remind us that we are not.
We get married. We have a job, and a mortgage, and maybe even some kids. We are forced with choices between career, motherhood, or both, but no matter which path we choose, we wonder if it’s the right one. It is somewhere in this third decade when we lose that part of us that is focused on ourselves, and part of it is by design. How could we properly care for ourselves AND all of these people depending upon us without letting go of the selfishness of our 20s?
Yea, I know I’ve been proclaiming my newfound focus on taking care of me, but I guarantee that selfish at 20 is worlds different than selfish at 40. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just different. It’s as different as choosing to wear blinders and regaining lost sight after twenty years. It’s learning to balance all of those demands that reared their hungry heads during our 30s, and keep them all fed while feeding ourselves.
I know I’m only a few days in, but I’m learning things about myself at forty I never knew before. I know now that even though I am far from perfect and work on myself daily, I am content with who and where I am. I know family is the most important group of people in life, and not all people who become family share the same blood. I know who my friends are, and I know how to choose them (this would’ve been helpful knowledge in my teen years!). I know I wouldn’t have the confidence or experience to live life to the fullest if I hadn’t worked through all of those stages and phases.
And oddly enough, I never knew I had a favorite number until today – four. It has become my number, and “fourty” is just the beginning of my next chapter. I don’t know what tomorrow or any new day holds, which means I will treasure the present and hold tightly to the ones I love. I know as I navigate this next phase, I will continue to learn and grow and try my hardest to better myself as well as the world around me. And I know that’s the best any of us can do.