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.
I’m right there with you – 61 and still growing and maturing! Your daughter sure looks young! I didn’t have children of my own, but it is beautiful to read the pride you have in your daughter between the lines. Well, they’re aren’t hidden or anything! Keep enjoying.:)
Thanks, History Gal. I wish I had looked like my daughter when I was forty!
Me too! 🙂 She’s a cutie! I wouldn’t have minded looking like that at 20!!! 🙂
Haha, History Gal. I’ll have to tell her.
I know. She doesn’t realize how young she looks because she’s never been that old before! 🙂
LOL, History Gal.
Your daughter is simply beautiful and natural. That radiance comes from somewhere.
I wanted more children. I think it’s amazing you were dean of students and had more than two.
I wouldn’t call it resentment as I thought about taking care of so many children in our public schools and not having more…but still I thought it….and now we have grandsons. Life is good.
I have a friend, Georgette, who has one daughter and six grandchildren with another on the way. I have three children and two grandchildren with most likely no more coming. But life is good indeed!
I’m certain that she had a very good teacher.
How kind of you to say so, Tuesday2.
This is such a beautiful post. Happy Birthday to your daughter, and a big cheers to you for being such a wise mother. 🙂
Thanks, Robin. Hard to believe I have a daughter that age when I feel it wasn’t that long ago I was turning forty myself.
I’m glad to see you made it to Michigan! That’s the best gift of all. Those late night visits are nice, but the little ones still want to get up early…It was actually warm here, Monday! Sadly, it didn’t last long. I was still wondering at 50 what I was going to be when I grew up. I guess I just won’t grow up! Enjoy your visit, and wish Emily a happy birthday for me.
Thanks, Patti. I had to laugh when you said the little ones still like to get up early. We don’t have any little ones around here anymore, and teenagers and preteens like to sleep in. I’m the earliest riser around here. I just can’t understand what’s going on with the weather. We need to at least meet for lunch.
happy 40th birthday of being Mom… and a happy birthday to your lovely daughter. Hubby and I had a very similiar discussion today while travelling back down from D.C.. Love this post. Also whispered a prayer for a blessing for you while passing the exit on 95 for Norfolk/VA Beach…
Thank you so much for that whispered prayer, DAF. I am so touched. I hope you actually take that exit some day so we can meet in person.
So that little muchkin I held and fed cheerios to her is 40! Congratulations to you both.
And she is still little and cute, Uncle Mark!
This really made me think Susan, and made me feel better about times in my life when I wish I had become more, done more, accomplished more, and so on. I will try to keep evolving.
Happy birthday to your lovely daughter, who shares her birthday with my husband, turning 65 today.
Two milestones, HG. Happy birthday to your hubby, too.
I would love to know what I wanted to do with my life. But I’m not sure I’m supposed to know. Happy Birthday to your baby.
Hmmm, NQO. I never thought about that. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know. We are just supposed to live a good life, and the direction is not that important.
Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter, Susan. I echo every word you said about life, every word is like a beat of the drum….and you said it so eloquently.
Thank you, Susan!
Thanks, Amy. I am enjoying my visit with her immensely.
Did they come to VB? My daughter, son-in-low, and two little ones came to San Antonio for Easter. 🙂
How long did they stay, Amy? I’m visiting daughter and family in Michigan.
They came on Friday and left on Sunday afternoon. It used to take almost a day to fly from Seattle to San Antonio. Happy to know you are visiting your daughter and family!
Beautifull said. I too look at who I am and somethimes feel I could have something else with my life But then I look at my adoring husband, wonderful children and grandchildren and know that I have done well.
That is totally how I feel, too, Rosie. We really are so blessed.
Happy 40th to your lovely daughter! She is just going to love her forties (it’s when all the wisdom starts to surface). Your reflections are evidence of the wisdom.
I will have to show her your comment, Life. Those of us in our forties or on the other side of our forties know how good those years can be.
My oldest, a son, turned 40 last September. I had a habit of saying “I had him when I was 12,” until someone actually believed me! Being completely satisfied and not yearning for something more is a sign you are ready to move on to Nirvana. I’m not there yet. I’m glad you and your daughter are not there either.
Sometimes I wish I were more satisfied, Adela, but the older I get, that feeling doesn’t last as long. But it does still come to me, and I feel almost in a panic that I’m running out of time. Then I get my drum and I beat that feeling away.
Congrats to you and to her!
Thanks, Grandma. We had a great day today going girl shopping. Great way to spend a birthday.
A lovely picture of a lovely young lady (emphasis on the young).
You are dead on regarding our self-questioning. Seems like we all do it. I like a passage from the Desiderata that speaks to this: “Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Love that Desiderata, Al. I need to print out the whole thing. I think George greatly appreciates it’s wisdom.
Thank you for this wonderful article. It has blessed my heart this morning! Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter and may her special day be filled with many blessings. I can see that you are blessed beyond measure…..enjoy your day!
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Responsebrown. I am very thankful for my wonderful daughter.
Happy Birthday to your lovely daughter. When I tell folks that my son is 32, I always say that “I was just a child when he was born”. NOT!
Ha, Dianna! That little fib would be easy to believe by looking at you, though.
Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter and thank you for sharing these reflections. I share many of the same feelings when the birthdays of my sons roll around. The death of my mother made the passing of time drum a little louder for me as well.
Once there is no one who is a buffer between you and eternity, Stacia, it is such a sobering thing. I felt it a little when my mother died, but I was still in my mid-forties then. When my father died six years ago, I really felt the clock ticking. Sometimes it makes me feel desperate to accomplish something big, and then I take a look at my life and realize just living a good life, not hurting others but helping, is enough, and that desperate feeling leaves me. Hope you are having some days when you can go the whole day without shedding tears, but I suspect you will not be there for quite awhile. Love you.
“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.” This says it all Susan, and your beautiful daughter is the first example of yours and your daughter’s lives well lived.
Thank you so much for that sweet comment, Dor.