I turn 43 in two days and I can’t stop reading a book of essays entitled On Being 40(ish) and crying. I know. It’s a bit too on the nose, but bear with me. I’m not crying because I’m turning 43 (more on that later.) And I’m not just crying because I’m reading the book of essays. I’m also crying because I can’t stop watching a video of a mom telling her daughter with a rare autoimmune disease that she gets to go to the Stanley Cup Finals to watch her beloved St. Louis Blues. I then need to show that video to my son and I start crying again and then he starts crying and then I start crying more. I’m also crying because I’m in the middle of packing my four children for camp and my dining room looks like a bomb hit an Amazon warehouse. And that kind of visual chaos makes me feel utterly out of control and no one else in my house seems to give a shit. I’m not crying because I’m sad my kids are going to camp. I know they will have meaningful, exciting, joy-filled summers where they won’t wear the sunscreen I’m packing for them. And I get to have time to myself and time alone with my husband. However, I am crying because for the past month I have been in denial of everything I have to do and I have kept my shit together and everyone’s needs filled and just today I left my own birthday lunch with my wonderful mother because I finally admitted how much shit I have to do. Of course she understood because she has stood where I am currently standing. I am crying because in the next week I have two of my children’s birthdays and Father’s Day (about which my husband gives zero craps) and I feel like I am not going to properly celebrate any of them. I imagine I’m going to do what I always do, which is hustle my family from one commitment to the next, like a sheep dog who is always herding the cattle and never just grazing in the long, green grass. I am crying because my children are getting older and older and I will be visiting colleges with my oldest child next year and I am just so aware of all the moments I wasn’t present for in my life because I was so busy getting shit done. To manage my overwhelmedness, I return to reading the book of essays and I’m crying because 75% of the writers in it are better writers than I am and that pisses me off. I’m crying because I kind of wish I lived in the beautiful houses in the middle of the countryside in which all these writers (except Jill Kargman) seem to live. I’m crying because I often wish I didn’t live in a city that constantly smells like dog piss. I’m crying because I keep saying I just need to get through the next couple of weeks and then I feel TREMENDOUS guilt that I’m wishing time away. [PAUSE for me to run into my youngest children’s rooms to give them more goodnight kisses so I don’t feel quite so awful.] I’m not crying because I’m turning 43. I’m happy I’m turning 43. I feel like I was 43 when I was 13 and so now I’m actually fulfilling my destiny. And for the first time for as long as I can remember, my husband and I and our children will all be together on my birthday. I’m going to set very low expectations and then I will be VERY pleasantly surprised. And then my birthday will be over and It will be my daughter’s birthday and then my son’s birthday and then off they all go onto buses on their way to Maine. And I will cry at the bus because I am going to miss their gorgeous beings so much. I am going to cry very carefully and very quietly behind my sunglasses because I don’t want them to decide they don’t want to go to camp. They need to go to camp so I can miss them with a deep yearning and then reunite with them on Visiting Day and cry until my shoulders shake with all of the pent up love and joy and relief of seeing my children again. For the moment, I will return to my wonderful book of essays written by women more talented than I am and continue to cry for all the reasons mentioned above and some I didn’t mention (like maybe I’m also getting my period.) I will wake up tomorrow morning with a morning-after-a-good-cry headache which brings me back to 3rd grade when I started a new school. For my sake, go read this beautiful book of essays. Go watch the beautiful video of the girl going to the Stanley Cup Finals. Go have a beautiful cry. Think of me crying right alongside with you with a shit-eating grin on my face because sometimes there is nothing better than having a beautiful cry two days before your birthday.
P.S. I wrote this in about 20 minutes and there are probably loads of typos. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to hear about them right now. Tell me in a couple of weeks.