Four Oh

When I crawled into bed the night before my fortieth birthday, Bob looked at me and exclaimed, “So! It’s the last night of your thirties. Ever! That’s kind of crazy, right? You’ll never be thirty again. Weird.” He then promptly rolled over and closed his eyes leaving me to ponder the unrelenting march of time all on my own. How thoughtful.

I fell asleep on the last night of my thirties trying to remember what the last night of my twenties had looked like. In October of 2005, I was about two months shy of giving birth to Henry, my first child. My thirties were all about pregnancy and babies and toddlers. I think I spent the entire decade either thinking about getting pregnant or talking about getting pregnant or trying to get pregnant or being pregnant or recovering from being pregnant. My thirties were years and years of nursing and diaper changes and bottles and cribs and spit up and high chairs and that weird rice cereal and fantasies about hiring a night nanny.

I hadn’t really thought about turning forty as the end of something until Bob brought it up. This birthday has always seemed like the beginning of something. Something different. The beginning of the post-baby phase of my – of our – life. We’ve spent so much time building our family that I’m excited to get to enjoy our family. Well, now that everyone can walk upright anyway.

IMG_6419

I celebrated turning forty by shedding 22 pounds, cutting off most of my hair and purchasing additional life insurance. I’ve been working at the weight loss since May and have wanted the hair cut since forever but the life insurance was a last minute panic purchase two days before my birthday. Nothing screams advancing age like pondering and planning for what would happen to your family following your untimely demise.

Outside of a lovely mid-week lunch date with Bob, the majority of the birthday revelry was pushed to the weekend, when my sister arrived from Louisville. My sister is the life of any party but you probably couldn’t tell that or anything. She makes everything brighter. And, funnier.

IMG_6479

Friends joined us throughout the day on Saturday as we visited local wineries. Some friends, I’ve known for what seems like forever and some I’ve just had the good fortune of meeting since our move here. I loved having the chance to relax and catch up with each of them. I’m always sort of oddly humbled when people go out of their way or make special arrangements to accommodate time together and I know the childcare gymnastics each one of my friends had to go through to make Saturday happen was definitely an exercise. I feel eternally blessed to have such lovely, giving women in my life. The copious amount of wine and cheese was nice, too. It was just a perfect day.

IMG_6458

So far, forty is off to a great start. I walked for four miles with Millie this morning but then had to come home and take a mid-afternoon nap to recuperate. That seems about right. I suppose I should expect a little yin and yang in this coming decade, no?

Eyes Up

I cracked open my calendar one Sunday morning not too long ago to see what the following week had in store for us. I took one quick peek and then immediately shut it again in a fit of panic and anxiety. There were too many things on the list. There were too many places we had to be. There was one day where so much had to be accomplished that I ran out of room altogether to write things down. I needed a supplemental planner page for my to-do list. Instead of feeling compelled to take action, I felt completely overwhelmed. I sipped coffee and stared at the wall.

I don’t really consider us Busy People. We’re not the family with all of the sports and all of the extracurriculars and all of the clubs. Not yet anyway. Our kids are still pretty young. Why then are our days so maxed out? Why are they so stressful? Why are they scheduled down to the minute sometimes? Why am I regularly clearing out backpacks and dumping lunchboxes at 9:30 at night?

I don’t have an answer other than it’s just a tremendous amount of work managing the life of a family of five. There are an awful lot of details in the day to day feeding, clothing, housing and educating of three children. And, I handle most all of them.

So, in between doctor’s appointments and homework negotiations and birthday celebrations and volunteer responsibilities, I go for walks. I put miles and miles under my feet, climbing hills, navigating traffic and avoiding wildlife. I spend hours walking each week. Sometimes, I think about nothing. Sometimes, I think about everything all at once. Each and every time, I have to remind myself to look up. To take in the scenery and to take deep breaths. To stop looking down. At my feet. At my to-do list. At my phone.

Because when I look down, all I see is what still needs to be done. I see the dirty baseboards and dusty vent covers and crumb-covered kitchen floor. I see the endless piles of laundry in overflowing baskets and I see summer clothes where the winter clothes should be by now. I remember the sink that’s draining slow and the weird spot on the tile I keep meaning to scrub. I see all of the things that remain undone. But, when I look up on my long walks, I only see blue sky and white clouds stretching to the horizon.

IMG_6373

When I look down, I see the hallway walls that still aren’t painted and the thousands of dollars we just spent fixing the furnace and the odd place where water is leaking from that one pipe in the basement but only when it rains. I see the closets that should be better organized and the garage that needs to be cleared out and the basement that is becoming a catch-all. I see all of the toys that should be sorted and the items that I still haven’t donated. But, when I look up, I see the leaves on the trees in all of their brilliant colors.

IMG_6361

When I look down, I see the flu shots and the drippy noses and the coughs and the doctor’s visits and the medicine I must administer convincingly. I see the calls I have to make and the letter that I should have written. I see the emails and texts I haven’t answered and the bill I forgot to pay. I see the paperwork piling up on my desk and the school forms I haven’t returned. I see the books stacked on my nightstand that I haven’t even cracked open and I remember all of the things I was going to write about when I ran out of time. But, when I look up, I see the rolling hills and mountain valley that shelter our home. I see the sun set on another day.

IMG_6370

When I remember to look up, I remember that all of those little details matter but they don’t matter, too. They are important but probably not as important as I think they are. When I look up from the details, I see Charlie riding his bike, Henry climbing a tree and Millie – literally – dancing to music only she can hear. And, those things are just as important as flu shots and math homework. When I look up, I prioritize time with family and friends and worry less about laundry and dishes and fixing dinner. When I look up, the stress and franticness of my day fades away.

We’re all struggling with the same lists, the same sense of urgency, the same endless errands and appointments. So, this weekend, I sincerely hope you have time to look up. After all, it’s finally fall. The leaves are exceptional, the view truly magnificent.

Revelry

This is four.

IMG_6218

IMG_6199

IMG_6176

image

IMG_5993

image

IMG_6093

IMG_6065

IMG_5981

Millie turns four years old today. She is so excited, has been counting down for days and days, will tell you all about it if you ask. It is a Big Deal.

We’re celebrating at home. Just the five of us. Some presents. Some cupcakes. Time together. Time spent marking a special birthday for a special girl.

Happy day, Amelia Claire!