This is 40

A few weeks ago, the thirteen year olds at church had their rite of passage liturgy, lots of special words and prayers as they enter adulthood. We celebrated with cupcakes after, and when I walked into the reception room, I saw the teens gathered, joking with each other, really uncomfortably, about being grown-ups. What I wanted to say, but didn’t, was that they’d probably still be giggling when they’re 39 wondering who left them in charge! That’s totally how I feel sometimes. The line I used as a (late 20-something) middle school teacher when I’d find kids looking at me to see if they should be doing whatever it is they are feeling unsure or guilty about doing (and to be honest 90 percent of the time, I had no idea what they were doing but could smell the nervousness) was to put it back on them. “Is that something you think you should be doing?” Works on my own kids now. Come to think of it, everyone should ask that of themselves. I had no idea if I should be the grown-up and stop what they were doing. If they weren’t hurting anyone (physically or emotionally), it was pretty much a toss up on interfering or not.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about growing up. Today, I am 40. Both my mom and my husband’s mom turned 40. Neither of them turned 41. But I am healthy — clear biopsy a year and a half ago; clear mammogram six months ago; no chronic illness. Now, I have noticed that my first few steps in the morning hurt my feet. Not sure if that is age or daily flip flop wearing or (most likely) an extra 50 pounds. Still I am healthy. And I am a grown up, even if I don’t usually feel like one. I realize I have a whole lot of great years ahead of me. And I’m pretty excited about them.