by MIM STACEY
I’m turning 40, and I think I’m OK.
In my day (yes, I was going to wait until I ACTUALLY turned 40 to use that expression, but it just slipped out!) kids were older when their mums turned 40.
I remember as a 14 year old, sitting sullenly in the back of our cream Mitsubishi Colt, while Mum was trying to close the garage doors in our little house in Salisbury, Brisbane. Completely out of character, she threw the old brick that used to anchor the doors shut, to the floor. My sister and I just looked at each other and shrugged. She got in the car and we mumbled in stereo “what’s wrong with you?”
“I’m turning 40 tomorrow, and I’m not happy about it”. Sis and I just shrugged again and without giving it a seconds’ thought, grunted something unintelligible, and turned back to our all-consuming Donkey Kong and Oil Panic games.
For so many years, this has been a suppressed memory. Forgotten in a haze of jelly pens, spiral perms, Russian wedding rings, Reeboks and other mid to late 80s fabulousness. Until now…
Next month, I will turn 40. A number that always seemed ancient, and so very, very distant . . . until now. I decided a few years ago that I wasn’t going to have a 40th birthday party, a decision after which my hubby threw me a surprise 39th! (I’m an attention-to-detail-kinda-gal, it’s hard to get one past me, but a party for my 39th birthday?? Clever, clever man.)
I presumed that as the big Four Oh loomed, I would want to go and scurry under a rock, or at least hide under a very fluffy doona and hibernate for as long as was humanly possible, until the need for alcohol and food (in that order) arose. But no! I am staring it in the face and embracing this number with every aching bone in my body.
I recently went to a 40th, and it was a rather sombre affair. The birthday girl hated the idea and everyone took her lead. When I got home with a head full of champagne and a heart full of trepidation, I thought: I’m next. And then I stopped. No, that’s not me! I am proud of my 40 years.
I am proud of the lines starting to sprout around my eyes. They remind me of the late nights and early mornings of partying, they remind me of the late nights and early mornings of waking with each of our 3 crazy kids and they remind me of the late nights, and early mornings of working in telly.
I wear those wrinkles as a badge of honour, reminding me of everything I have experienced; joy, devastation and true grief, confusion, wonder, thrill, amazement, disappointment and pure love.
For the past 16 years I haven’t really celebrated my birthday (except for the surprise 39th!) You see, my beautiful Dad was killed suddenly on my 24th birthday. It marked the beginning of a very dark time for me. My birthday from then on was always marred with bittersweet feelings, more bitter than sweet quite frankly. So, after much internal deliberation, I think it’s time to reclaim and celebrate the day as my own again.
While as teenagers, we were so oblivious to poor Mum’s reluctance to turn 40 (we took her on the Kookaburra Queen no less!), I never take for granted how lucky I am to have her in my life, and I am so thrilled that she will be around to help celebrate my 40th amongst the hand made cards and macaroni necklaces made by the little fingers of her grandchildren.
So raise a glass in celebration of your life. Enough of this “40 is the new 30”. No it’s not. It’s 40 and it’s fantastic.
Mim is the former Supervising Producer of The Circle (R.I.P) and is currently working for a few weeks as a publicist for the new Geoffrey Rush stage show, after which she is going to stop to catch her breath. Find her on twitter here: @mimstacey.