Well gals, when I asked you for your stories about turning 40, 50, and 60, I was flooded with e-mails! Thanks to all who wrote in and shared, and if you haven’t yet, please send me your story following the outline I provide at: https://www.estherkane.com/blog/send-me-your-story/
So as I’ve started this embracing-midlife party off with the 40’s, I’ll continue giving you stories I’ve received from readers about this particular milestone birthday. To kick us off, please let me introduce Laurie A. Gray, JD of Socratic Parenting, LLC. Here are her answers. Thanks Laurie!
Having turned 40 in 2003 and now bumping up on 50, I would answer your questions as follows:
How did you feel about turning 40?
Growing up, I thought forty was old. But at 37, I married a man 22 years my senior and we were unexpected blessed with a child shortly before my 38th birthday. I was reading maternity magazines and AARP at the same time. So when I turned 40 my life was nothing like I would have expected. I felt young and healthy and like a had a whole new lease on life.
How did you celebrate this milestone birthday?
My husband and I spent the week in Hilton Head, playing tennis and enjoying the beach and pool. We took my mother (a month older than my husband) with us as our “nanny granny” to care for our then two-year-old daughter. On my birthday itself, my husband took me out for one of the finest dinners I’ve ever had at my favorite restaurant on the island.
What were your hopes and dreams for this age (i.e. What did you hope to accomplish by this age?)
I grew up in a very conservative Indiana family that expected me to become either a teacher or a nurse if I wanted to go to college. I became a high school teacher, and it was actually my ex-husband who told me that I should go to law school so that I could get paid to argue all day long and perhaps be a little nicer in the evenings. Best unsolicited advice I ever got! As a lawyer, I was on track to become the first female partner at a mid-sized firm in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but ended up on a different partnership track with my boss, now my husband. I moved to another firm and continued making a name for myself in private practice. I wanted to be a real trial lawyer, so I became a deputy prosecutor, trying mostly high profile felony sex crimes along with the occasional murder case. By this time I had resigned myself to never having children of my own because of my husband’s advanced age and his having had children from his first marriage who were not grown. Our plan was to work hard, play hard and enjoy traveling together. Even after we found out we were expecting, my plan was to take a standard maternity leave, find good day care or hire a nanny, and then get right back to work. But having a child of my own changed everything. Since turning 40, I’ve found ways to grow personally and professionally as an author and attorney, but to keep my schedule flexible so that I can be a wife and mom first.
What was difficult about reaching this milestone?
Honestly, the hardest part is seeing some of my friends really age and hearing them complain about being old. To me it’s just a number. When my husband turned 70 last month, our now 9-year-old daughter said, “You’re not old, Dad. You just have lots of life experience.”
What was wonderful about reaching this milestone?
What’s wonderful is that I do have lots of life experience. I know the emotional rollercoaster is just a ride, and I can get off whenever I want. Loving and nurturing my daughter has really helped heal my own inner child. I’m getting to know myself and feeling comfortable in my own skin (blemishes, wrinkles, flab and all).
What do you think about our youth-obsessed culture and the constant pressure to look younger than we are?
Such a waste of energy and needless angst when we could be embracing who we really are and living each day to its fullest. I’m for genuine health, body, mind and spirit, over appearances. Of course, our youth are all too anxious to grow up and appear older than they are. I think it’s sad.
How do you feel about cosmetic surgery?
Can’t imagine wanting it or feeling like I need it.
I’m not particularly worried about turning 50 or 60, either. I know plenty of healthy, productive people in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s. I also have friends who have died suddenly, unexpectedly and tragically in their 30’s 40’s and 50’s. Each day is a gift.