I’m 39 years old, and I have no idea what to think anymore. When I was young, I was so sure, so confident in my beliefs, my concept of right and wrong. I think that’s one of the blessings of youth: conviction. When you’re in your 20s, you know what’s up.
Nothing is scary when you’re 25. At 30, things are a bit more serious: you have a real job, maybe a baby on the way, and at 35, you’re navigating mortgages and car loans and multiple kids. Even so, most things are pretty straightforward. You’re still in your 30s, how serious can things be?
Staring down the barrel of 40, though? This is new.
Forty is act two.
Forty is GROWN.
I never really wanted to be grown. Never imagined I’d make it all the way to grown. I always assumed I’d go down in a blaze of glory, young and full of life, then poof! Like a supernova. People would lament my passing, keening about my youth and vitality. “Gone too soon,” they’d say, “her beautiful spirit silenced before the world could yet love her.” (I’m very melodramatic and have always been prone to self-aggrandizement).
Or something. I don’t know. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now. Suffice it to say, I never imagined myself at 40, with two kids, a mortgage, a minivan, and yoga pants; worried about whether or not we have enough life insurance (we don’t), if I should vote for Gary Johnson instead of Hillary (nope), or if I’m poisoning my children by letting them eat Goldfish instead of Cheddar Bunnies (maybe a little, but probably not enough to be troublesome).
Life looks a lot different at 40 than it did at 25, and I have a whole new list of things to worry about. It’s a very long list, and it makes me anxious on the best day, plain terrified on the worst day, and on a run-of-the-mill day, it just keeps reminding me that I’m clueless about what to think and what to do and how to be grown.
1. What the hell am I supposed to feed my children?!
This is a biggie. It’s not as simple as it was when I was a kid. Everything will kill them, or give them cancer, or disrupt their hormones. Nothing is safe! Even innocuous foods like crackers can have sneaky, insidious, death ingredients.
I could always make my own cheese crackers, from scratch, like a “good mum” would do, but then I’d worry that I wasn’t spending enough time with my children, actually interacting, and then I’d just worry they would turn into sociopaths (see #4).