In my teenage years, I was deeply in love with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. I felt like I was floating on cloud nine, enjoying good health without consequences, and living in the present with little thought for the future.
In my twenties, I married the love of my life, had four babies, and started taking better care of my health. However, my motivation for staying fit was mainly to maintain a hot body, and I valued good sleep for its ability to give me bright, refreshed eyes. I also enjoyed working outside the home because it allowed me to make friends and gave me a sense of freedom. The income was an added bonus.
During my early thirties, I developed a strong sense of self. I cared less about how the world viewed me and focused more on how I viewed myself. My marriage became my primary focus, and my approach to raising my children shifted from simply meeting their needs to considering who they might become as adults.
Now, as I approach my late thirties and head towards my forties, I find myself surprised by a range of emotions and insights that are simultaneously new, refreshing, alarming, and comforting. Today, I'd like to share 4 of them with you.
Baby Fever and Questions about Pro-Life
A Strong Desire to Have a Baby... or a Puppy: Growing up as a millennial, I heard a common narrative that as a woman approaches 40, two things happen. First, she becomes sexually mature and supposedly experiences the best sex of her life. Second, she begins a desperate fight to conceive with her remaining eggs. I always found this narrative funny and interesting, but as I quickly approach 40, I wonder if there is some truth to it after all.
It's the strangest feeling, difficult to fully describe. Deep within me, there is a longing for when my children were very young. I miss those days with an intensity I've never known before. When I see babies, my heart melts. I suppose this is what people refer to as "baby fever." I yearn to hold and nurture something tiny. The sleepless nights seem like an invitation to experience a unique kind of love and nurturing that can only be fulfilled by caring for a dependent human being.
But as my body (and my biological clock) betrays me, I am grateful for my sharp mind and the wisdom that comes with approaching 40. I don't want another baby. I'm not sure if my aging body could handle it. My desire to build a career and save for retirement remains strong. The idea of starting all over again seems impractical at best. However, the sound of the ticking biological clock grows louder each day, accompanied by images of a sweet, chubby baby girl wearing a bow that's three sizes too big for her head.
And here is where the millennial in me clashes with the Catholic in me. I could simply get a puppy. A puppy would fulfill those yearnings that I seemingly cannot escape while allowing me the freedom of not having to have another child. But I question whether this option is truly pro-life.
A Realization that I am Not Immortal
I have never considered myself to be immortal, but one of the luxuries of youth is not having to contemplate the somber reality of death. Approaching 40 has brought with it a sobering realization of mortality. The challenges of losing weight, health scares, and witnessing the passing of family members have opened my eyes to the finite nature of life. It has become clear that time is passing quickly and life is precious. This realization has served as a wake-up call to reassess my goals, aspirations, and how I spend my time. It has ignited a desire to make the most of the years ahead, focusing on personal growth, meaningful relationships, and pursuing long-held dreams. Acknowledging our mortality has become a powerful motivator to embrace life's opportunities
The Ability to Let Go
As I approach my 40s, I have experienced a remarkable shift in my ability to let go of past experiences, regrets, and grudges. The weight of holding onto negativity has become increasingly apparent, leading me to yearn for emotional liberation. I am grateful for the wisdom that comes with age, which has allowed me to recognize the futility of carrying emotional baggage and the importance of forgiveness and self-compassion. This newfound ability to let go of toxic people and situations has fostered personal growth, inner peace, and a capacity to embrace new opportunities without the burden of the past.
A Comfortable Relationship
Last, but certainly not least, aging has brought me a sense of comfort in my relationship. I often used to hear stories of two people getting comfortable in their relationship, and the young or young-minded individuals seeing it as a negative thing, prompting them to seek new and exciting experiences elsewhere. I was no exception. I cherished that bubbly feeling and did everything in my power to maintain it in my ever-aging relationship. I focused on looking beautiful, and keeping things fresh and spontaneous. My youth was consumed by the notion that I had to constantly work to keep that bubbly feeling alive, not necessarily because it felt right, but because society made it seem like the expected norm.
However, as I grow older and embrace the blessed wisdom that comes with it, I have come to realize that this narrative is often a fallacy among many. There is something profound about being able to settle comfortably within your relationship. Approaching 40 has allowed me to become fully secure within myself, and this newfound security has had a profound effect on my relationship. I no longer find myself on the rollercoaster of youthful insecurities. The uncertainties have gradually given way to a deeper, more authentic connection with my husband. It is a beautiful and profound experience that deserves its own dedicated blog (stay tuned for more on that).
Approaching 40 has been an incredibly intriguing journey, to say the least. It has instilled in me a deep appreciation for my body, my health, and my loved ones. It has opened my eyes to the things and people in my life that truly matter, and it has filled me with anticipation for what the future may hold.