I can clearly recall being a kid and reading a classified ad in the newspaper that read “Lordy, Lordy Suzanne is 40!”
For those of you in your twenties, a newspaper was where we got our news before the internet was invented. Articles, cartoons and even an advice column were printed on paper. The print was bold and perhaps something like Sans Serif. No, a newspaper did not have Siri.
Below the cheesy birthday poem was a grainy black and white photograph of a woman named Suzanne. Let’s just say the years were not good to her or she wasn’t good for forty years. At the time, the woman in that photograph seemed so old to me. Her skin looked like a broken-in baseball mitt. Her hair was course and unkept. Come on, was that really the best picture they could find of Suzanne? Hundreds of people would see that photograph and know Suzanne was over the hill. Fast forward and there is no need to place a classified ad. Facebook advertises your birthday for you. I thought about removing a birthdate on my profile, hoping the day would quietly pass by. It’s unavoidable. Friends would post on my wall anyway. Then, other friends would get nervous that they forgot the date and post their wishes. Then, the kid who sat catty corner to me in 7th grade biology would follow suit. Then, the toll booth worker I befriended would give me a shout out and so on and so forth. In fact, you could put the wrong birthdate on your profile and I guarantee people would still wish you a Happy Birthday.
So, here it is. I will no longer be in my thirties tomorrow. I spent the past few weeks feeling sorry for myself. There is a good chance, given my family’s medical history, that I have lived more than half of my life. Over and over again people tried to cheer me up by saying, “Forty is the new 30.” Then, it hit me. Forty is nothing like 30 or even 20 and that is a good thing. There is something I have at 40 that I didn’t a decade or two ago: appreciation. I appreciate the parents that bothered me in my teenage years. I realize how lucky I am to have that incredible support system. I appreciate the family I come home to every night. I appreciate the incredible friendships I have formed. I know my made up friendship with Ryan Gosling doesn’t count. I have friends to laugh, cry and occasionally dance like fools with. I appreciate little things like a good meal, someone holding the door for me, my child’s giggle and the smell of fresh cut grass. I appreciate gifts because now I know it takes hard work to get a paycheck. I am grateful that someone would spend any of that money on me. I also value handmade gifts that come from the heart. Don’t get me wrong, I would enjoy a pair of Christian Louboutins more than crocheted slippers, but I appreciate the thought. Most of all, I appreciate being loved. I’m not talking about the kind of love I had for Kirk Cameron, Kenny Rogers or any other Tiger Beat pinup on the wall in my childhood bedroom. You read that right. I had a crush on Kenny Rogers. We are still working to get to the bottom of that in therapy.
I don’t take anything for granted. I appreciate moments in life that, as a teenager or twenty-something, you allow to pass by without giving a second thought. With age comes wisdom, inner peace and wrinkles, but luckily there is Botox for that. Lordy, Lordy someone should have told Suzanne that when she was 40.