Almost 40

cakeSo, this note was supposed to begin with the line “Tomorrow I will be 39.”
But I fell asleep before I could start writing. And when I opened my eyes, I was 39. I didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to 38. I just sort of passed out, woke up, and here I was. That’s the thing about being a year away from 40 — you’re tired a lot. Or maybe I’m just tired a lot …I wasn’t always. Once I was 18, fresh-faced and perpetually well-rested. I slept until noon, ate candy for breakfast without repercussion and pretty much thought of 40 as an age I wouldn’t see for a century or so. Forty was just plain old.

Forty was the moms in my freshman Psych 101 class. The ones who sat in the front row and always asked a lot of annoying questions as if they were actually trying to learn something. Forty was minivans (I was NEVER going to drive one of those …) and scrapbooking parties. Forty was just plain old.

But wait — I’m still only 39. Being almost 40 is a curious thing. In many ways, I feel as if I am caught between time zones. I’m clearly not 18. I drive a minivan, and I have gone from eating candy to brainwashing — I mean educating — my kids about the evils of the stuff. My kids. I’ve given birth to two of them. I feed and care for and chauffeur them around each day. I am married. I pay bills. When I sign my name, people take it seriously. I have been the mom on the front row trying to learn something. Surely all this means I’m a grown-up.


So, I guess the curious part is this: When do I actually start feeling like one?

Since scrapbooking is my incredibly scientific and obviously rational litmus test for adulthood, let’s start there. I scrapbooked the first three months of my oldest child’s life. That’s it. That leaves five years and nine months plus one ENTIRELY OTHER CHILD unscrapped. Five years and nine months + child no. 2 = random, chaotic pictures hiding in drawers, stacked in plastic tubs, shoved in photo albums all. over. my. house.

I thought adults were supposed to be organized?

Organized and responsible. At least responsible enough to not spend 30 minutes playing Words With Friends instead of doinglaundrymealplanningvolunteeringmakingtheworldabetterplace. Responsible enough to go to sleep when tired. And definitely responsible enough to never substitute “u” for “you” in a text message. EVER.

Organized, responsible and totally confident. Confident as in the opposite of: “Is this mom-outfit okay for this mom-event I’m about to drive to … in my minivan?” Confident as in the opposite of: “I’m almost ready. Just let me google ‘What to wear to a mom event’.” (Not that I’ve ever done anything like that … ahem …)

Here’s the thing. I will be 40 in exactly 365 days. And I’m still unorganized. I’m still a little irresponsible. And I still wonder what the popular moms will be wearing. I guess I’m still a little bit 18 on the inside.

I have cards in my wallet. I get my oil changed semi-regularly without my husband’s help. I remember life before email.

But I still get zits, I still dance to good music, and I still stay up later than I should.
It took me longer than I care to admit to understand Twitter. I remember the first time neon was in style. I use the word “cool.”

But my insurance still confuses me. I still browse the juniors section. And I still look at my kids every once in a while and think, “I am really old enough to be in charge of you????”

Caught between time zones.

Maybe the secret of this life is that I always will be. Maybe I really am just 39 going on 18. And maybe that’s ok. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe I need to get my photos in scrapbooks and stop the chaos. I’m not really sure. And perhaps the beauty is figuring it all out as I go along.

So here’s to being 39. Here’s to whatever that means and whatever it looks likes. Here’s to scrapbooks filled with nothing more than good intentions. Here’s to flawless faces and lots of sleep. Here’s to tweeting and the occasional piece of candy. Here’s to all the rad moms in cool neon shirts. U r totally awesome.

Here’s to being able to put almost” in front of 40 for another 365 days.

Here’s to being a grown-up.

-by Jai Wallace Tracy


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