June 7 – Today I turned 40. Yup, the big 4-0. It still feels weird to say it. I very clearly remember my own mother turning 40, so how is it possible that I’m now the one??? What is it about 40 that marks it as such a big milestone? It feels bigger than turning 20 or 30, and 50 for some reason feels less daunting. But 40 is a biggie. I can’t say I’ve been dreading it. It’s just a number after all. And I’m not expecting to have a huge midlife crisis or anything. Josh was asking the other day how I was feeling about it and I said to him that many people haven’t experienced life by the time they are 40 and feel this pressing need to “get going” now that they are mid way thru it. But we’ve experienced more in the last 5 1/2 years than most do in a lifetime, so I feel no regrets or wishes about things I’d done in the last 40 years and feel like I’m ready to move forward. Not to mention 39 kind of sucked. So what better moment to kick the past in the ass and embrace the future of this next decade.
However, I can’t say I’m super excited about today. I live 4000 miles away from my family and the majority of my friends. And while I’m starting to make friends here, it’s not exactly at the stage where you plan a big party to invite everyone to join in the celebration. Therefore, the big reason that I haven’t been looking forward to today is that I miss the idea of celebrating this milestone with all my family and friends together. I felt the same when trying to plan Josh’s birthday – I felt it was a little bit of a letdown because I was limited in what I could do from 4000 miles away. However, in an attempt to look at the glass half full as I enter my new decade, I may be missing out on my family and friends at home today, but I have my little family right here with me. And they have made me feel incredibly loved on my big day. I woke up to hugs and kisses and snuggles from my favorite 8 year old. Josh made me potato pancakes for breakfast (a breakfast so labor intensive we save only for holidays and birthdays!!). After that, everything fell apart…
June 14 – So it took me the better part of the week to regroup from my birthday. Yes, most of the week. Though let me back track for a moment here. I was looking forward to spending my big day with my little family. I would have liked to be home celebrating with everyone there as well, but that just wasn’t going to happen so I would embrace the day with just the 4 of us. That’s what we’ve been the last 5 1/2 years – a team of 4.
But when it came to opening my presents, the kids walked away after my first present. Like left the room with no intention of coming back. Yes, they are kids. But it hurt me to the core that they couldn’t sit for less than the 5 minutes it would take to open my 3 presents – 5 minutes for me to feel special on my big day. The things that Josh bought me didn’t fit. It all set me off on a spiral that days later, I was still trying to get out of. And no, they are not the reason for the spiral, they just set it spinning.
These days it doesn’t take a lot for me to spiral out of control – and the spirals are far worse than they ever were in Spain. I know it’s silly. I should be back to “normal” by now. But holidays and birthdays are the times that I miss home the most. And my birthday, my big birthday, was no different. I thought I’d be ok, but in reality, that one moment with the kids was all it took to send me off in tears for most of the day, missing home with an ache that consumed me.
I didn’t expect my spiral to last so long. But something about turning 40 and being 4000 miles from home made me miss it even more than usual. I couldn’t get out of my own way. Looking towards the future and the bright side of things – a week has passed and my birthday feels far behind at this point. I want to make the best of my 40th year even if it did get off to a rough start. The end to the week was a great one – filled with new friendships, my happy little family, a great summer to look forward to soon (kids don’t finish school til early July). Oh and I should mention that Josh gave me a gift to open in August – so I have that to look forward to as well!
The day ended on a high note thankfully – even if my emotions ran strong for the rest of the week. With a family bikeride around town, calls from friends and family at home and overall just feeling loved, I’m ready to tackle 40 with everything I’ve got. I love my family and I’m sorry for all the grief that I caused them on my birthday – I can imagine seeing their mother breakdown is a scary thing for the kids and lashing out at Josh was hurtful to him in a way that I never intended. If I could take back those moments, I would. I can only look forward and hope that this year will be filled with many more happy moments than the one horrible day that I inflicted upon myself.
I don’t have any special goals or bucket list for this milestone year, but if I can accomplish a sense of feeling settled here in the Netherlands, securing friendships, seeing the kids happy socially and academically and feeling as though I belong here – I will feel that 40 is a good year. What would make me extra happy would be getting back into my pique physical condition – I was in a great place 3 years ago – now… not so much. If I can accomplish that, I think everything else will also fall into place. Regardless, 40 is a new start, a new opportunity, a new decade – a chance to reinvent myself. And I’m ready…
Knuffels en kussen, Julie