Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This is 40

Today is my birthday!!  I was born a bit after midnight on this day in 1974, so that makes me 40 years old.  I'm going to link up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for my Five Favorite things about this stage in my life...

1.  My Marriage

Engagement Picture, 1998
Since I'm linking this to Hallie's blog, I'm going to start with this one.  Doug and I were talking the other day about how much we are enjoying this stage of our relationship.  Not that we don't ever have disagreements or even get into some ugly fights now and then, with hurtful words and accusations.  (I did mention somewhere along the way that we were both born the oldest children?  That probably explains a lot, we're still working on sainthood here at our house).  However, we both acknowledge that we've mellowed over our 15 years of marriage.  Looking back, I can see how God has used Doug in my life to mold me, I am a better person today because of his influence on me.

We know each other so much more deeply now.  I met Doug when I was 14 years old and we were friends for years before we started dating.  As our friendship grew I was able to guess how he would feel about a given situation.  But now I can also understand why he holds that opinion.  Even if my feelings on the same subject are completely opposite from him.  Over the years I've gotten better and better at putting myself in his shoes and seeing things from his perspective.  It is second nature to me now, nobody knows me better than him and I couldn't imagine being married to anyone else.

2.  Having older kids

Oldest & Youngest
I didn't really see this one coming.  When you're in the mommy trenches of babies and toddlers it's enough to just survive the day.  Now that I have some older helpers I can be a bit more reflective about my life as a mom.  I am truly enjoying the relationship I have with my older children.  I get a front row seat as they start to think about ideas and concepts and develop their own opinion on the world.  I realize how short the time really is and how fast kids really do grow.  It seems like just yesterday that Firstborn was Toddler Boy's age and it also seems like an eternity ago.  On the practical side, this helps me with my patience with the little ones.  I can know from experience that potty training is just a stage and that the baby who nurses all day long will one day wean.  In addition, my little ones benefit from having older siblings.  Their life is richer from having that relationship with an older brother or sister.  The older ones benefit from it too.  It warms my heart to see the older kids naturally help pour drinks for the younger ones without being asked, or sit down to read them a children's book.  They are more empathetic because of their little siblings.  Of course they have the typical sibling rivalry but they truly do enjoy each other too.

I should mention it really is nice that the older ones are picking up bigger responsibilities around the house.  I pretty much never feed the dog or take out the recycling (unless my kids are at camp).  Then I had to write notes to myself to feed the dog so I didn't forget!  Doug taught them how to mow the grass last year.  They can load dishwashers and do their chores without my supervision.  Now that Firstborn is babysitting age I can even run to get milk at the store/pay a bill/return a video or library book without dragging everyone with me.  #heaven

3.  Health

I expected my health to decline by the time I hit this age.  When you're in your teens and twentys you can pull all nighters and eat Cheez Its and a can of soda for lunch and not really feel any different.  Not so now, I would say that train left the station around the time I hit 30.  The up side of this is that I can do something about it.  It's not because of my age that I can't pull all nighters, it's because humans are designed to need sleep.  I understand my body better, with age has come experience and wisdom.  When I'm following a paleo diet and exercising I can feel better now and have more energy than I did 20 years ago.  It's my choices that dictate my health, not my age alone.

4.  Finances

Anna Maria Island, 2013
When we were a younger family we were so busy.  I decided to stay home after Soccer Boy was born so Doug picked up a second job over weekends to help make ends meet.  He was also finishing his master's degree.  I felt like me and the kids were constantly sacrificing our time with Doug to his work or school.  When you are just starting out you don't have a lot of vacation or sick days either (especially if you use them up with the birth of each child).  You don't have a very big paycheck.  Financially, it's not like we've "arrived" and are living large.  We have more children to support and things do cost more now (like groceries and cell phones).  However my husband now has more seniority at his job and is not going back to school anytime soon.  So he has more vacation days available and can take longer lunch hours if he needs them (like today, we're meeting for lunch for my birthday).  Our budget is not as tight as it used to be because 1) Doug makes more money now, and 2) we've spent the hard early years of our marriage "trimming off the fat".  We got used to eating at home instead of eating out, we didn't even have cable at our first house, and we didn't miss it.  We just recently upgraded to smartphones.  We don't go on a big vacation every year.  Not that there is anything wrong with any of these things, but you have to choose what is important to you and your family, what you value.  You choose where to budget your money.  We spend money on what we really value and we let go of the rest.

5.  Appreciation and Wisdom

Bubbles, the good things in life!
My birthday has made me introspective.  When my three year old wakes up and just wants to be cuddled for a few minutes each morning I can set aside whatever I'm doing because I appreciate that this time is short.  It's easier to live in the moment of each and every day.  It's easier not to blog for months at a time, or not read that book I've been waiting for because I'm living life in the present day.  I truly value each day I'm given.  The wisdom you gain over the years is priceless.  Oprah said that "50 is the new 40", I wonder what will be going on in my life in ten years.  Maybe I'll be a grandmother by then, who knows.

Bottom line...I'm getting better at realizing what to major on and what to minor on in all areas of life.  My relationship with Christ is growing deeper, my marriage is growing sweeter and my kids are growing up.  It's all good and it's all the way it's supposed to be, may God grant me more of His mercy and goodness for my coming years.

So this is what 40 looks like...

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