Drum roll please…….
In three days time, I am going to be 50.
There. I’ve written it down and it didn’t feel too awful. Actually, I’ve been saying it out loud for a while, just so that I get used to hearing it. ‘When I’m 50….’ and ‘I’m 50 this year…’ and even once ‘I’m 50 now you know so you can’t expect me to…’
The thing about milestone birthdays it that they just keep coming. I remember being devastated that I was going to be 17. It felt so very grown up when 16 had been filled with childish frolics for which I didn’t have to take responsibility.
I have no recollection of turning 20 – it’s lost in a haze of other Septembers.
When I was 30, I had a party at my house which was fun but not wild because I was pregnant with my eldest. I felt old, that my youth was already behind me but I was just starting out on my new motherhood adventure so that didn’t matter. I remember telling myself that the passing years were not an issue because I was managing to cram so much into my life.
By 40 I was exhausted after a decade of pregnancies and babies but I scrubbed myself up and had a party. I mean, you do, don’t you? Just to show that you’ve still got it. Life begins at 40, people kept telling me. It was like some desperate mantra that we all grasped at so that we could pretend that we weren’t perturbed by the top of that hill which was looming into sight.
It turns out that being in your 40s is actually pretty cool. I discovered a clear sense of self without the fear of what others thought and surrounded myself with other strong, women who all seemed to think like me. It’s been a cracking decade.
And now 50.
I’ve read lots of articles – it’s the new 30 you know. We can do as we please, wear what we like, are just coming to our peak and certainly women in their 50s don’t look like women in their 50s did when I was growing up.
I’m not entirely convinced that it’s the new 30 though. My eyes no longer function as effectively as they did, my hair seems to have forgotten what colour it’s supposed to be and if you pinch my skin it doesn’t spring back into place obediently. They are definite signs of wear and tear.
But my attitude to life? Now, that is definitely still improving. I am excited about my future. I have really big plans. The world is most definitely still my oyster. I also appear to have developed some wisdom of sorts on my trail through the first 50 years and the foundations of my life seem pretty stable. Whilst I may be on my way back down the hill, I can take the journey as slowly as I like. Why not stop to investigate the tiniest flower or spend time dangling my feet in a cooling stream? There is absolutely no rush any more. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to reach the bottom but I’m going to enjoy every step.