08 February, 2012

And Then I Was Forty

My daughter had to count to one hundred tonight for her homework as part of the celebration of the 100th day of school. She also had to put one hundred things in a bag to share with her classmates. Candy would generally be her first choice, but we settled on little slips of paper of places we could think of that she has visited.

The list was pretty easy to come up with, which is a little surprising considering she's only five years old. And it's a good list, with lots of states and beautiful national parks, inspiring monuments and small and large towns spread across the country. It made me proud that we are showing her the world.

Of course every place on her list is a place on my list too, if I were to indulge myself the time to make such a list... and I was tempted to think of every little town my husband and I visited in Europe that one summer. What was so interesting to me is that so many of those places on my daughter's list were places we saw together for the first time.

and that made me smile, because I am only forty, and there's a lot more to do.

I am not ashamed of getting older. I don't really care much about crow's feet. I've been 'long in the tooth' for a long time, and this bust line needs industrial strength reinforcements no matter what age I am.

I have accomplished so much less than I thought I would have by this age, and I know because I still have the lists I made when I was twenty and life was spread out before me. All I needed was a pen and some college-ruled notebook paper and I was in charge of my destiny. With a scribble I planned three children and graduate school, trips around the world, and a vegetable garden; I would learn to can my own food.

Once life got rolling it was hard to stop, and no little list is going to dictate when you actually fall in love any way.  There were subsequently no plans for things like a broken leg, or home repairs. My list did not have a six year gap between having my children, and no one had a wheelchair repair scheduled annually.

But I am finished with those lists, because I have done so much more than I thought I could that it is really hard to be disappointed. I have experiences in my life that my little 20-year-old self couldn't imagine if she tried, and they haven't all been great, but I am better for them. I am a much stronger, funnier, capable woman than I had imagined I'd be. I am less restless, and more adventurous. I love more deeply than I ever thought possible.

and I'm not afraid like I was when I was younger, worried I would never get a chance to check off each thing on those lists.  Now all those places I've gone, the things I have learned in just these five years of my daughter's life, the eleven years of my son's life, the fourteen years of my marriage... they lead me to believe that there will be hundreds and hundred more places I will visit in the next forty years, and I can't even imagine all the things I will get a chance to do.

(p.s. I did do a few things on that list)

a version of this post was the editor's pick today at OpenSalon.com
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