So this is 40

A few weeks ago, we watched a movie called This is 40. It’s probably the funniest movie I have seen in a long time. Probably because of its appropriateness in terms of my turning 40 a few days afterwards. Whilst the movie is probably not everyone’s cup of tea (there is quite a lot of swearing and sexual reference) I literally had tears in my eyes from laughter throughout the 90 odd minutes. I liked the fact that the two lead characters, both about to turn 40, really did not give a damn about anything! We also watched it at a time when we really needed some comic relief: Having both taken some strain over illnesses and accidents in the family (Gary’s mom broke both her arms, and my father had a wound that just would not heal) And after a few disappointments surrounding the plans for my birthday (sometimes I still feel like an insecure teenager, unsure of where I fit in), it was great to laugh out loud at nonsense for an hour and a half.

But this post is not actually about that movie. (Although if you find yourself hanging about with nothing to do, do give it a watch. You probably want to wait till the kids are in bed though!)

This post is about that dreaded milestone: FORTY.

Just for the record, I wasn’t happy turning 30, never mind a full TEN years older! Aging is a weird thing. It’s a slow process that kind of just creeps up on you, and one day you look in the mirror and think “How did I get so OLD.” And then your five-year old asks you “why do you have stripes on your forehead mommy?” (referring to my, um, wrinkles!) which really tips you over the edge. I seem to have found myself in a weird head space: middle-age is not exactly a label I want to be sporting on my forehead. Then again, maybe it would hide the stripes? And while I am probably in OK shape for 40, both mentally and physically, I can’t say I feel young either.  My back injury is not helping the process, because I am always in pain.  Although I try to ignore it most days, it is very draining on my energy levels.

But enough of the wallowing in self-pity.

All of my friends that are already forty, tell me that forty is FABULOUS. That it’s the new THIRTY, that it’s the naughty forties. One of my friends said in a birthday text message: “Still young at heart and mature enough to enjoy life to the full at last”. While the jury is out on whether or not my forties will be fun, fabulous or naughty (I will let you know once I turn 50!) here are the things that I am thankful for at this milestone:

  • I have the best husband in the world.  He made me feel like the most special girl in the world on my birthday, and in fact does so every day. I am so lucky and grateful to have him in my life. (Sorry ladies, he is taken!)
  • I have two beautiful children who bring me a lot of joy and have shown me what love really means. They have taught me so much. And while I sometimes wish I had had kids a little younger, I would not change anything for the world.
  • I have a wonderful extended family … my two step-sons mean the world to me. It has been a pleasure and an honour being part of their lives for so long.
  • I have brilliant friends who are always there for me.
  • I really am happy. Well most of the time anyway.

It is said that “you are only as old as you feel”, so I am going to try my damnedest to feel 21 forever!

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The innocence of childhood

The other day, I let Alex watch Toy Story 3 for the first time. He loves Toy Story 1 and 2, but I had always felt that the 3rd one was a little mature for a preschooler. Let’s face it: that pink bear is quite nasty. And the baby doll is very a little creepy at times. But I figured that seeing as he had been introduced the characters during the Disney on ice show, that it would be ok for him to watch. (And if I am perfectly honest, I could not bear to watch Cars or Cars 2 for the five-millionth time!)

So while Caris had her afternoon nap, Alex gathered up his Toy Story friends and we started watching the movie. (When we watch Cars, the Radiator Springs Gang and all the Racing Cars are gathered to re-enact movie scenes while he watches.) After some time, he looked at me with his blue eyes, wide and filled with such sadness, and asked me “Why doesn’t Andy want to play with his toys anymore?” I was quite taken aback.  So I explained, while fighting back the lump in my throat, that when children grow up, their interests change and they don’t play with toys anymore. He took a while to digest what I had said, and then responded,  “I will always want to play with my toys!” (… and continued playing with his Toy Story figurines, hardly paying much attention to the movie as he was so engrossed in his make-believe world.)  For me this perfectly illustrates how innocent children are, and how wonderful it is that they are happy to lose themselves in an imaginary world. And that they cannot imagine not playing!

I love the fact that Alex gets completely lost in his games, and how his toys, whether they are trains, sea creatures, cars or people, have conversations and interactions with each other. He becomes totally immersed in his own little world, and it is so cute to watch. I do not have many memories of my own early childhood, but I do remember how much I loved my Barbie dolls, and how for me, they were real. I can remember setting up bedrooms, kitchens and lounges for my doll families to live in; and how they had tea parties and luncheons, while sitting in their (very 70’s!) basket chairs. (…And how much I loved changing their outfits and shoes, of course!)

It is hard for me to imagine a time, when Alex will not be a child anymore, and how he will inevitably morph into a sulky, moody teenager, much like the teenage Andy in Toy Story. How his love of playing imaginary games with his toys will be replaced by going out with friends, and being interested in girls and the like. And sadly, time seems to be flying by so quickly; it’s hard to believe that he will already be four years old in two weeks time. It is a pity really, that childhood is such a small percentage of one’s overall lifespan. And how, when we are children, we do not really appreciate how golden this time is, or how wonderful it is to be able to disappear into one’s own imagination. (Before the responsibility of having homework, having to study, and ultimately having to earn a living kicks in.)

Just last night, while he and Gary were playing with the Toy Story Gang (Only because  his absolute favourite Radiator Springs Bunch was in the box of cars downstairs), I had to smile as he announced, “Quick everybody, HIDE! The BABIES are coming, and they will BREAK us!” because Caris had approached the bed, eager to join in on the fun.

Long may he play, and be immersed in that beautiful imagination … (and I hope that one day, when he has children of his own, he will lose himself once again, in imaginary games with his little ones.)

{Some grainy cell-phone pics of play-time}

{Trains, trains, everywhere…}

{Woody Rescuing Lighting with my shoe!}

{Play-time at Nanna’s house}

{This “Lightning” guy shows up EVERYWHERE}