Today my beautiful little baby girl turned forty. Lest you say, as you surely will or should, “Susan, you are much too young to have a daughter that age,” our joke is that she is actually my husband’s daughter by his first marriage. (Yes, I am indeed his one and only wife.). We stayed up and talked with each other until after midnight last night, and she told me that turning forty bothers her a bit because she is not where she envisioned herself being at this stage in her life. Even less than a year ago, she said she was more focused than she is now. “Mommy,” she said to me, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
I had to chuckle because I’m sixty-four and feel the same way. I think this is the cycle of life for most people. Most of us would like to have do-overs, make different choices, know what we want at every stage of our lives, have no regrets, be satisfied with who we are. And we are, more or less…sometimes. Sometimes we really can sit back and take a look at where we are and feel content, even happy, with the path we’ve taken. It’s those other times that get us down, when no matter what we’ve chosen, we’re not sure it was what we really wanted, though it might have been right at the time.
As long as we have breath in our lungs, I think most of us will always feel we are not quite where we wanted to be. I think that is the nature of life. And it’s not a bad thing. It is what keeps us striving to keep trying. We have periods in our lives where we are focused and driven, and then we have those other times when we can’t seem to get out of our own way. We can’t do the simplest things that we know we should be doing, that we desperately want to be doing.
And then there are those huge moments when we look back on our lives and think we should have gone in an entirely different direction and now it is too late, and we bewail the fact that we weren’t bold enough to make the choice we really know NOW that we should have made.
Here at sixty-four, I see things a little differently. If we are really honest with ourselves, what is really our heart’s desire is to be loved and to love, and to feel that we have contributed in some way. At the end of the day, if we can say we have accomplished that, then that discontentment we sometimes feel really has no more sway over us.
As I look at my beautiful daughter and see how much she is loved by so many people, not just family members, and see how much she has done for so many others and continues to do, when I see her happy family and lovely home she cares for, I think she is in a good place.