I’m 40 today!

I’ve never really been bothered by birthdays or aging, but I’ve got to admit, this one is making me a bit contemplative. This morning I was blessed to log on and read tons of birthday messages on Facebook and my various message boards. My mom sent me three e-cards and wrapped all of my pressies (she is the most wonderful gift wrapper, each present looks exquisite, and birthdays have always been a big deal in my family). My dad and his wife flew in from Ohio to celebrate. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve gotten to see each other and we are having a wonderful visit. My husband took the little ones at lunch, during his extremely busy work day, so that I could have lunch with Jenny, Dad, and Dotttie. All in all, a wonderful start to this new decade of life.

But I find myself very blue today. I didn’t sleep well which exacerbates my fibro symptoms and feeling overwhelmed, and the little ones are being a bit of handful today. One of the first things I read today was a CarePage update from a mom who lost her 4-year old daughter to cancer last year. She has also turned 40 recently and she is one of those amazingly optimistic and positive forces of nature. I read her long update about feeling 40 and fabulous and finding joy when and where you can without guilt. Here she is, having lost her daughter, and she is by far a healthier emotional person than me. Each day for me feels like the last, a Groundhog Day if you will. I vowed not to indulge in a pity party today, but it is what it is. This is a hard life.

I scrapped my very first page about myself last night in honor of turning 40. I examined my thoughts on this and really thought about who I am. I am defined almost exclusively by other people: wife, mother, daughter, friend… and by my roles: caretaker, nurse, doctor, researcher, advocate, volunteer, cook, etc. Just like every other mother in America, except for the special needs parenting part. I have a found a small niche just for me with digital designing and I love it. I’m thinking of taking a photography course in the spring. I need to start focusing on myself more but it’s very hard. Whenever I see a picture of myself, I immediately pick out all the flaws. I’m overweight, out of shape, broken, and sick. I’m also strong, kind, gracious, and generous. Why does that negative voice persevere more than the positive? I used to be like this other mom whose writing moved me so much this morning. I used to be positive and sunny. Now I feel defeated and tired. What happened to me?

As I reflect about turning 40, I also imagine the future while thinking about how I got here. So much is unknown, I don’t have a roadmap for parenting Anna or what her adult life will look like. It may be that my life remains intertwined with hers long past typical children and I need to make my own space now. She needs it too, she is very dependent on me. I will seek help with this. I will exercise more and eat better. I will seek more laughter and dwell less on negative thoughts. I will accept myself. I will accept Anna. (And I want to take a moment to thank you all for the wonderful words of suppport on my last post.) I will not be broken and sick, I will be healthy and vital. I will be happy when I can and sad when I need to be; I will be present in this moment and twine together the past and future. I will honor my husband and my mother and my oldest daughter for their incredible day-to-day support and unconditional love. I will reach out more to friends and also take care of myself. I will find pieces of me that are waiting to be found and I will enjoy that process. Here’s a toast to the next five years, they will be better…. I will be better.

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