I’m not yet 40. And this is not a review of the movie of the same name as the title of this column.
But if someone would like to pay me to write a review of that movie, I would gladly accept an advance copy. Which reminds me. Pretty much the best job I ever had—other than the one for which I was paid by a beauty website to flit around Los Angeles and write about people nicknamed things like “The Fastest Bikini Waxer West of La Cienega” (I have never BEEN so well-groomed!)—was when I briefly wrote previews and reviews of “Sex and the City” episodes for a big newspaper.
Because I received screening tapes before a season launched, I was a full month or so ahead of you when I screamed things like “GOOD RIDDANCE!” at my television upon learning that Big was a) engaged to an “idiot stick figure with no soul” and b) completely unfamiliar with the film “The Way We Were.”
Speaking of “The Way We Were,” it will turn 40 next October, just a few months ahead of me. (See how I did that? Full circle, baby.)
A lot of people around me have hit the milestone recently, which has led to much discussion about aging, life goals and SPANX.
And, yes: We bemoan the parts of aging that, just say, result in nerve damage to one’s foot after one dances to Tone Loc in four-inch heels for three hours at one’s high school reunion—when, just say, one spent almost the entire 1990s doing exactly the same thing with no repercussions. Just say.
But while there are definitely irritating aspects to getting older, there are also upsides.
Just recently, for instance, I realized that I’ve become better at letting things go.
For a long time, I truly believed I would magically become the sort of person who does a load of laundry every day. And FOLDS IT AND PUTS IT AWAY. (I know! Total Lunacy.)
“I can’t wait until I get it together and create a spreadsheet of the people we send holiday cards to—instead of using the one-card-in-one-card-out method of determining our friends and their addresses,” I’d say to myself. EVERY YEAR SINCE 2001.
And I lived in constant fear of the random drop-by.
An “I’m around the corner” text would send me flying through the house, scooping up evidence of my utter failure to transform my kids into the type who put one thing away before they start playing with another. Anything I could grab would get shoved into whatever closet I could open without fear of it attacking me. Opening the front door out of breath, I’d sternly greet my surprise visitor: “You can come in, but only if you close one eye.”
But last month, a friend called and asked if she could come over and mooch a glass of wine while her son was at soccer practice nearby. “Fine,” I said. “But I’m not cleaning up a thing.” And I sat right where I was, reading a magazine at my sticky kitchen island and listening to my boys maim each other and my furniture, until she knocked.
And just today, Houzz.com asked its Facebook followers, “Where’s YOUR craft station?” Whereas this might have previously spun me into a guilty internal monologue about how I need to do a better job crafting with my kids, today I just rolled my eyes and muttered, “Get a life, Houzz” and immediately forgot about it.
I don’t want to stop improving, or learning new things. But I’m beginning to accept that things aren’t neat and organized in my life. Instead, I spend a lot of time being silly with my kids, working hard at my job and sustaining a life outside my home and my office that helps ensure people can stand to be around me.
Will my kids grow up to be the kind of people for whom everything has its place? Who enjoy a well-scheduled and orderly life? Probably not. I regret this to a certain extent. (I imagine that one day their partners will shake their fists in the air, cursing me.)
But perhaps they will grow up to embrace the fun and messy aspects of life, to see the beauty of spontaneity and not get hung up by the fact that they do not possess a well-ordered system for storing and labeling their screws and nails.
I hope they’re able to coexist with chaos (without the help of medication). Because whatever else parenting is, it certainly revolves around a healthy amount of chaos. And the closer I get to 40, the less I try to wish myself into someone adept at wrangling it.
Aging, as far as I can tell, is about accepting who you are, and not apologizing for any of it.
I still have work to do, but I’m getting better at both.
So if you don’t get a holiday card from me, know that it’s only because you didn’t send me one. I’m not sorry.