I apologize in advance for sounding like a narcissist. (Wait. Should I be starting every column like that?)
Ten years ago, I started a blog called “Holy Crap I’m gonna be 40.” I did it because some of my Facebook friends thought it would be a good project for me. Somehow, the blog led me to being the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist that I am today, so I guess it worked out pretty well for me! (I don’t really have a Pulitzer, but I have aggravated a lot of people over the years, so I guess that is its own reward!)
That was 10 years ago.
TEN YEARS AGO?!?!?!?! How have another 10 years gone by? Remember when 10 minutes in class felt like an eternity? Like the bell would never ring? It totally blows my mind that I am already 10 years older. What really amazes me is that I have been living with Husband #1 for longer than I lived without him. (Some of you might be asking how I was ever able to live without him, while others might ask how has he been able to live with me so long…)
When you look at your life in decades, I am not sure if it makes things better or worse. Your first 10 years are pretty exciting when you look back on them. You made your entrance into the world. You met your parents for the first time. You learned how to walk and run and talk and yell. You made your first friends and you tasted different foods for the first time. You got your first pair of shoes and underwear (which probably was more exciting for your parents than it was for you). You learned how to sing, how to play sports, if you liked singing or sports….
There is a lot going on in those first 10 years.
And then your next decade. That one gets a little harder. Puberty. Self doubt. First loves. Staring in the mirror and trying to figure out why this one likes you and that one doesn’t. High school. (Though I feel that high school never ends so that might not be the best example.) The people who made you feel self-doubt back then have only gotten better at it and now they have children who terrorize a whole new generation…. Sorry. Getting off track.
My twenties were, for me anyway, getting married and having kids. So those 10 years, though extremely exciting and life-altering, are glazed over with a sleepless haze — which carried over into my thirties. And then I turned 40.
These past 10 years, thank God, for the most part, have been pretty good. My boys are all taller than me and smarter than me. We stopped paying high school tuition. We learned all about black hats and that when your son is in yeshiva, you don’t say he is in school. It is amazing how your parenting skill set becomes totally different when the little monkeys grow into big monkeys…
You quickly learn that not everything goes according to plan. You learn that there is a reason why your parents shield you from certain aspects of life. Or that you were lucky enough not to learn about them on your own. And yet, you still are, hopefully, smart enough to know that you never know what goes on in someone else’s house and that you wouldn’t trade your life with anyone else’s.
So here I am, now two weeks before I turn half a century. On the one hand, I am excited and grateful to be reaching this milestone in, thank God, reasonably good health. I look forward to what the next decade will bring. But, on the other hand, I am probably more than halfway to dead, and that is a totally depressing thought, so I will keep thinking about the first hand. Though I have also learned that you don’t know what will happen to you tomorrow, so I should just hope that I make it to 50 before I start talking about it.
One of my friends told me the perfect quote, said by Victor Hugo: “Forty is the old age of youth; Fifty is the youth of old age… Yup. Okay. I am ending this one now, but I get one more introspective rambling column next week — it is my birthday after all….
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck always gets happy when she sees Halloween decorations because her sister’s birthday is on Halloween and her birthday is the day after. And candy is on sale….